Bowe Bergdahl is reportedly pleading guilty to both desertion and misbehavior before the enemy, and the discussion now turns to what his punishment should be.

CNN’s John Berman, is wondering aloud if he’ll be sentenced to more time “beyond what he already served in captivity w Taliban”. Yes, he said that on a news network.

I’ve seen a lot of talk of Bergdahl getting life in prison. I disagree completely, Bergdahl should face the noose and should hang for his crimes.

The applicable portions of the codes, 10 U.S. Code § 889 – Art. 99 and 10 U.S. Code § 885 -Art. 85.

10 U.S. Code § 889 – Art. 99 Misbehavior before the enemy

Any member of the armed forces who before or in the presence of the enemy—

(1) runs away;

(3) through disobedience, neglect, or intentional misconduct endangers the safety of any such command, unit, place, or military property;

(4) casts away his arms or ammunition;

(5) is guilty of cowardly conduct;

(8) willfully fails to do his utmost to encounter, engage, capture, or destroy any enemy troops, combatants, vessels, aircraft, or any other thing, which it is his duty so to encounter, engage, capture, or destroy; or

(9) does not afford all practicable relief and assistance to any troops, combatants, vessels, or aircraft of the armed forcesbelonging to the United States or their allies when engaged in battle;

shall be punished by death or such other punishment as a court-martial may direct.

10 U.S. Code § 885 – Art. 85. Desertion

(a)Any member of the armed forces who—

  • (1) without authority goes or remains absent from his unit, organization, or place of duty with intent to remain away therefrom permanently;
  • (2) quits his unit, organization, or place of duty with intent to avoid hazardous duty or to shirk important service;

(c) Any person found guilty of desertion or attempt to desert shall be punished, if the offense is committed in time of war, by death or such other punishment as a court-martial may direct, but if the desertion or attempt to desert occurs at any other time, by such punishment, other than death, as a court-martial may direct.

In a time of war, desertion is punishable by death. Misbehavior before the enemy also carries with it a punishment of death. We know from Bergdahl’s own words that he knew abandoning his post was wrong and against Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Due to Bergdahl’s actions at least 6 men died while looking for him and countless others were injured in the months that followed.

Because the needs of the Military went into looking for Bergdahl, this caused a delay for units like 4th Brigade of the 4th Infantry Division who were trying to removing its units out of Combat Outposts all over the Nuristan Province. Bravo Troop, 3rd Squadron 61st Cavalry Reg, (all 53 men) were still at COP Keating on Oct 1, 2009, when they were attacked by a force of more than 300.

During the Battle of Kamdesh 8 soldiers were killed and 27 were wounded. This battle last more than 12 hours, and the Quick Reaction Force did not arrive until 13 hours after the battle had started. The delay in assets being deployed was in part because the military was still looking for Bergdahl, and that delay cost men their lives.

The full weight of Bergdahl’s actions may never be known, but what we do know is good men were killed and injured because of his selfish actions. For this Bowe Bergdahl should be the first military member to be hung for desertion and misbehavior before the enemy since 1945.