Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s high-profile desertion case was referred for trial by court-martial on Monday, in a blow to his defense team which had urged a lower-level referral. Gen. Robert Abrams, the commander of U.S. Army Forces Command, ordered the court-martial on Monday, breaking with the U.S. military officer overseeing Bergdahl’s preliminary hearing who recommended that Bergdahl be referred to a special court-martial and face no jail time.
Bergdahl, of Hailey, Idaho, was held by the Taliban for nearly five years after he walked off his post in Afghanistan on June 30, 2009. Bergdahl was released from captivity last year in exchange for five Taliban detainees from Guantanamo Bay. He was later charged with desertion and misbehavior before the enemy, accused of abandoning his post before he was captured. U.S. Army Forces Command announced Monday that both charges are being referred to a general court-martial.
The desertion case, meanwhile, has created an uncomfortable situation for the administration. National Security Adviser Susan Rice said last year that Bergdahl served with “honor and distinction,” and President Obama appeared in the Rose Garden with Bergdahl’s parents to discuss his release.