Bowe Bergdahl Investigation Forwarded to Commander for Possible Disciplinary Action

PHOTO: This undated image provided by the U.S. Army shows Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.U.S. Army/AP Photo
This undated image provided by the U.S. Army shows Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.

The Army has forwarded the results of its investigation of Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl’s disappearance to a four-star general who will decide if any disciplinary action is warranted.

The general could decide on a number of possible outcomes, ranging from no further action to a possible court martial for the soldier held by the Taliban for five years after he left his post eastern Afghanistan.

“After a thorough investigation and a comprehensive legal review, the investigation concerning Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl has been forwarded to a General Courts Martial Convening Authority, Gen. Mark Milley, commanding general of Forces Command,” the Army said in a statement today.

“Gen. Milley will determine appropriate action -- which ranges from no further action to convening a court martial.” The statement added that no further comments about the report and its findings would be made “while disciplinary decisions are pending before commanders.”

U.S. Forces Command spokesperson Paul Boyce confirmed that Milley had received the report today.

“The commander will review carefully the Army's facts and findings to determine impartially any appropriate next steps and possible actions,” Boyce said. “Given the need to thoroughly review the Army's comprehensive report, we can't speculate on the estimated timing of any possible next steps or actions.”

Being Absent Without Leave (AWOL) and desertion are both violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice and commanders can determine potential disciplinary outcomes that can include counseling, a reprimand, non-judicial punishment or a court martial.

Bergdahl could also face the possibility of losing out on some of the hundreds of thousands of dollars of back-pay he had earned during his captivity. Bergdahl was held by the Taliban for five years after he disappeared from his unit’s outpost in eastern Afghanistan on June 30, 2009.

His freedom was secured in May as part of a controversial prisoner swap involving five senior Taliban officials who had been held at the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Those former detainees were transferred to Qatar, where they have remained since the transfer, U.S. officials said.

After his release, Bergdahl participated in a six-week reintegration program at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas, military officials said. He then returned to active duty at the base, where he has been working a desk job, according to officials.

In June, the Army appointed Major General Kenneth Dahl to conduct an investigation into the circumstances surrounding Bergdahl’s disappearance. Officials familiar with an earlier 2009 investigation of Bergdahl’s disappearance said that early report determined that Bergdahl had left his post willingly, though it could not determine his intent.

Dahl interviewed Bergdahl in August and his report was presented to senior Army leaders in October. Since then it had undergone legal reviews and processing.

On Friday, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel was briefed on the report’s conclusions, officials said. Hagel is not in the chain of command for potential punishments, but Army Secretary John McHugh had offered him a briefing as a courtesy.