Bowe Bergdahl returns to duty. That’s not the shocking part.

Posted on: July 14th, 2014 by Will Rodriguez 23 Comments

CNN is reporting Bowe Bergdahl is returning to duty.  The investigation into his alleged desertion continues and while most will be drawn into a discussion of his reintegration into civilization or the correctness of Bergdahl being assigned duties (seems inefficient to have to assign two supervisors to a soldier returning to duty) or getting $350k in back pay, what I found unbelievable was the following reported statement, “Talking to Bergdahl himself would likely be the last step in the investigation, one official said.”  HUH?

When’s the last time you heard of an investigation saving the interrogating of the prime suspect as the LAST THING?  Most investigations START with questioning the suspect to determine the direction of the investigation.  As I predicted in SOFREP, I doubt Bergdahl will be court martialed.  It’s less embarrassing to the Army and the administration to quietly separate him.  I still believe he will likely walk away with the same benefits and rewards as soldiers who didn’t desert and that’s the biggest shock of all.

Or is it…

Be Respectful, Candid and Pertinent. No Posers, No Trolls…
  • LauraKinCA

    The administration has spoken with the Rose Garden parental reception…. can’t find Bowe in the wrong now…..

  • Luddite4Change

    I’d expect this to be dragged out a little while…….likely until mid-November.

    I also wouldn’t be totally surprised if he only receives part of the $350K.

  • Camo_Steve

    I have a feeling he is not going to be well liked at his new post.

  • Sir Drinksalot

    While this guy gets all the benefits being a deserter, many other Veterans who REALLY served with honour and their families still await benefits…

  • YankeePapa

    .
    …Colonel Ralph Peters pointed out that Bergdahl has not been assigned to an infantry unit… but rather to a “Protocol” office.  Usually young soldiers who look as if they belong on recruiting posters escort drunken Congressmen around military bases.  
    .
    …The Army claims that it is investigating… but to date has not interviewed soldiers from his platoon… nor Bergdahl himself.   Odd sort of investigation.  
    .
    …Colonel Peters strongly suspects that the Army Chief of Staff has been “unofficially” advised that Bergdahl is not for the chopping block.  The administration released five terrorist rock stars… something that they should not have done for Audie Murphy… let alone an apparent deserter.  
    .
    …Navy prosecutor in Japan years ago… Navy dentist molested number of Navy wives who were under anesthetic… Prosecutor cut a deal… dentist resigned… no jail time… and prosecutor got to go back to golf course.  High brass let it slide.  
    .
    …A proper military court would not be impressed by the fact that Bergdahl “suffered” for his foolishness.  The moment that he walked beyond the wire on his own, he should have been aware that he was potentially walking into some sort of Joseph Conrad “Heart of Darkness” trip.  
    .
    …Number of possibilities.  The Army might mealie-mouth some reason for not acting and give Bergdahl Honorable Discharge, back pay and VA benefits… (former “POW” status one of highest levels…)  Or they might treat his absence after he was scarfed up as somehow not his responsibility and have him face the charge of UA (AWOL)…for the brief period before that… in effect a misdemeanor with slap on the wrist penalties.  
    .
    …If it gets grim, they might cut him a deal… he gets to walk away with a General Discharge (and most likely his pay and at least some VA benefits…)    
    .
    …As Colonel Peters pointed out… if he does not face a court martial for desertion, the message will be clear… desertion in the face of the enemy is really not a big deal after all.  And what if somehow, against all odds… Bergdahl winds up in front of a GCM?  Time to push the PTSD button… or maybe “…too much pre-trial publicity… can’t get a fair trial…”  Certainly POTUS doesn’t want it to get to where he would have to issue a pardon… Doubtless he would arrange payback if that happened…
    .
    …This episode is sort of the “Anti-Dreyfus Case…”  ‘railroading’ a guilty man into an acquittal… This train will run on time…
    .
    -YP-

  • YankeePapa 
    The “Anti-Dreyfus Case”, nice metaphor.
    FWIW, San Antonio doesn’t have any real infantry units.  It’s a base that specializes in medical training.
    I don’t think anything is going to happen to Bergdahl given the current climate.  If the Army and the administration can keep the lid on vet organizations this will slip neatly under the rug.  They don’t have to worry about the military.  They’ve already demonstrated an adept ability to keep them muzzled. http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2014/07/14/exclusive-marine-corps-transfers-whistleblower-who-questioned-top-general/?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_term=*Situation%20Report&utm_campaign=JULY%2015%202014%20SITREP

  • YankeePapa

    majrod YankeePapa ,
    .
    …So the Commandant feels justified in using Soviet mental health technique against lawyer… and essentially calls him and 3 star General liars… He admits that he should not have inserted himself (which is admitting to command interference…) and then falls back on the Watergate testimony gambit… “Senator… to the best of my recollection I do not recall having…”
    .
    …Real Caesar’s wife problem here.  The term so often seen in Navy relieving C.O.s… “Lack of confidence in their ability to command…”  
    .
    -YP-

  • Luddite4Change

    YP,
       I think that a deal as you describe above with an Article 15 for UA, honorable discharge and entitlement to some back pay (but not the POW pay, status, or medal) is the most likely scenario.  
    Everyone has an incentive to end this thing in the next 120 days.
    My personal feeling is that he should pay a much stiffer penalty for his very poor and selfish decision, but I have to weigh that against the realities of the law, and the precedent set in other UA cases in theater over the last 13 years.  
    My understanding of the public facts and reading of the MCM requirements to prove desertion, leads me to believe that there is a better than even chance that a judge would not substantiate the charge of desertion in an Article 32 hearing given  the high bar required to prove desertion (for example: his whereabouts were known within a short period of time, he did not “dispose” of his equipment in a legal sense, there is some historical evidence that he had gone outside the wire previously and returned).
    If this did go to a judge (either at an Article 32 or GCM) I’d expect Bergdahl’s legal team to track down every single instance of a service member who was UA or outside the wire without authorization during the last 13 years of conflict and what punishments, if any, they received.  I doubt anyone else was called before a GCM, which would call the entire prosecution into question.  Are we prosecuting a guy just because he was detained by a hostile force and didn’t get back to the unit?

    As to Bergdahl’s current assignment, I wouldn’t read much into it.  Everyone has to be assigned somewhere, and it might as well be to the closest GO command with GCM authority for administrative purposes.  Investing in a PCS (and ADSO)  to somewhere else doesn’t make much sense either, given that his ETS date is long since past.

  • YankeePapa

    Luddite4Change ,
    .
    …Indeed everyone has to be assigned somewhere… and they have no intention of assigning him to an infantry company in spite of his MOS.  His “welcome” might be problematic… Where he is now he can’t fulfill the normal duties… they won’t have him escorting VIP’s anywhere.  
    .
    …His previous forays outside the wire are hardly exculpatory… A man planning on deserting in a hostile and foreign land might well do some “recon” before taking the plunge.  As Majrod said, soldier in trouble with him who said, “But I have done it before…” not likely to enjoy the outcome.  
    .
    …I fully understand how difficult it is to prove desertion… But he is unlikely to face a court martial and be convicted or acquitted.  
    .
    …In the end, his fate pales in comparison to the fact that POTUS traded five top enemy players for him… something that should not have been done for *any* soldier. 

    .
    -YP-

  • Luddite4Change

    YankeePapa Luddite4Change …In the end, his fate pales in comparison to the fact that POTUS traded five top enemy players for him… something that should not have been done for *any* soldier.  
    Agreed!

  • YankeePapa

    Luddite4Change ,
    .
    “…Are
    we prosecuting a guy just because he was detained by a hostile force
    and didn’t get back to the unit?”
    .
    …Hardly.  There is at least enough evidence to warrant a full investigation into a possible charge of desertion.  The pattern of his behavior, his letters and notes.
    .
    …He did not go AWOL from Fort Dix and go into town and whoop it up for a couple of days.  He left a combat base under enemy observation and threat and walked away from his place of duty knowing that there could be massive consequences.  He was not absent from potential mess duty… he was absent from the potential of being called upon to help defend that base.   

    .
    …A soldier who is arrested by civilian authorities and ultimately cleared of all charges… can expect a far better welcome from his command upon his return… if he wasn’t AWOL at the time of his arrest.
    .
    …It doesn’t have to be a choice between an Article 15 and a General Court.  An awful lot of guys who “flipped the fence” and were not charged with desertion upon their return… still faced a Special Court Martial… usually resulting in six months confinement at hard labor, reduction to Pvt… loss of 2/3rds pay and allowances… and a Bad Conduct Discharge.  At Graduate Casual at MCRD I saw 21 of those handled in one morning. 
    .
    …This may all prove to be academic.  The White House does not want him to answer for his actions.  The Army may seize upon his discharge from the Coast Guard (not to mention his being declined by the Foreign Legion) to indicate that he was unfit to serve in the Army in the first place and should have been discharged before completing basic.  Of course that hardly enhances trading the family cow for “magic beans…”
    .
    -YP-

  • Wiggy111

    The Obama administration already told top Army brass what the conclusion will be so they will quietly release a statement at some point in the future after conducting a phony investigation.

  • Luddite4Change

    A special would still require an article 32, which is where I believe a desertion charge would have issues.
    By all means have a full (and transparent) investigation. I wouldn’t be satisfied with less.

  • YankeePapa

    Luddite4Change ,
    .
    …My point was that those 21 Special Courts run in one morning did not have a single charge of desertion… All were for UA… This limited the maximum punishment to 6 months confinement, reduction to Private… loss of 2/3rds pay and allowances and a Bad Conduct Discharge.  
    .
    -YP-

  • Luddite4Change

    YankeePapa Luddite4Change MCRD doesn’t fool around.

    Its been 30 years, but I remember vividly an Article 15 of a boot in my company for buying tobacco.  The proceedings were conducted in public and witnessed by all 8 platoons on the land nav course at Camp Pendelton.

  • steelhorse

    I,d say you are right Maj they will keep him at a desk job for 6 months or so then about christmas time general discharge if not honorable ( which would really be bs ) and he will fade away forgoten and a big slap in the face of those who died try to find his sorry ass

  • HM1 (FMF) Ret.

    Makes sense.. Like wiping your ass before you shit…

  • LawyerHandle

    They are possibly finally getting around to questioning him next week.
    http://edition.cnn.com/2014/07/29/us/bowe-bergdahl-case/index.html?hpt=hp_t3

  • YankeePapa

    January 27, 2015…..
    .
    …The election is behind us… Obama lost big time.  He has no special love for Saint Hillary.  So now is a good time to cough up this fur-ball.
    .
    http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/bowe-bergdahl-to-face-desertion-charges-nbc/ar-AA8DpYm
    .
    …So was it worth trading five heavy hitters for a deserter with a wheel off the ground…?
    .
    -YP-

  • YankeePapa

    .
    …The whitewash is underway.  A Major General is beating the drum all but praising Bergdahl and saying that he “…doesn’t see a jail sentence at the end of this…”  The “Anti-Dreyfus” case rolls on…
    .
    http://abcnews.go.com/International/bowe-bergdahl-hearing-squad-leader-calls-quiet-introverted/story?id=33856535
    .
    -Yankee Papa-

  • Luddite4Change

    YankeePapa 
    As we are in an article 32 hearing, appears to me that the General’s leadership saw things differently.

    I think questions of possible punishment don’t really have a place in an article 32 hearing.  That’s a recommendation for the judge/panel to make after hearing all the facts.

    FWIW, I don’t think that he will be serving any time either but will be convicted of something (perhaps a guilty plea for NJP for a lesser charge) which makes him ineligible for the POW status, pay and medal.

    The why of being AWOL is irrelevant.

  • YankeePapa

    Luddite4Change YankeePapa ,
    .
    …The Pentagon has crucified some members of the military for doing their duty… others for exposing criminal behavior… and now they may let this insult to the uniform walk… “and call it good…”? 
    .
    “…POW status and medal and pay… should not be on the table at all if he has done what he is alleged to have done.  The issue, if convicted,  should be one of prison time vs being shot… (nobody in the Pentagon or administration has the stones to permit the latter…)
    .
    …We *already* “cut a deal” on his behalf… trading five “heavy hitters” back to the lifelong enemies of this country.  We should not be contemplating cutting *any* other type of deal. 
    .
    … If we do and he walks… a real slap in the face to all those who did their duty out there when he walked away from his.  Worse… a slap in the face to the families of those who may have died because they were sent out looking for him.
    .
    -YP-

  • Luddite4Change

    YankeePapa Luddite4Change 
    I’m not passing judgement on the justice, I’m just giving an assessment of where I think it will go.
    I don’t think the POW medal or pay should be an option either, but without at least an NJP conviction that makes his capture and confinement “Line of Duty – NO” then the regulatory requirements don’t leave much wiggle room.