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The Army has concluded its lengthy investigation into the disappearance of Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl in eastern Afghanistan and must now decide whether Bergdahl should face criminal charges. Bergdahl reportedly walked away from his base into the hands of the Taliban and was held hostage for five years. Based on the investigation, the Army must now decide whether Bergdahl should be charged with desertion or a lesser charge of being "absent without leave," AWOL.
In June 2009 Bergdahl disappeared from his remote outpost in eastern Afghanistan, was reportedly captured by the Taliban and turned over to the Haqqani terrorist network in Pakistan. Bergdahl was released in a prisoner swap for five Taliban commanders held at Guantanamo Bay in May.
The Army’s investigation began once Bergdahl was repatriated and returned to Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, where he’s been working a desk job pending the outcome of the Army’s probe.
Military officials and military legal experts point out the Army’s first investigation in 2009 concluded that Bergdahl deliberately left his base, which could lead to criminal charges of desertion or AWOL. A conviction on either charge could lead to imprisonment, reduction in rank and loss of $300,000 in back pay and benefits which accrued during his time in captivity.
The results of the investigation were provided this week to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Army Secretary John McHugh for review. It would ultimately be up to the Army to decide whether Bergdahl should be charged.