Pvt. Bowe Bergdahl was captured by the Taliban in 2009 when he walked away from his post in Afghanistan. He was held for more than five years.
According to Fox News, the US Army is in the middle of a perplexing dilemma following his trial earlier this month. They are debating whether he is entitled to up to $300,000 in pay and benefits while he was in captivity.
This startling revelation details the complicated issue surrounding Pvt. Bergdahl’s desertion and subsequent captivity. Pvt. Bergdahl pled guilty to desertion and was given a dishonorable discharge for deserting his post. He was also demoted from sergeant to private but was not sentenced to serve any prison time.
President Trump has been extremely critical of the court’s finding saying on Twitter, “The decision on Sergeant Bergdahl is a complete and total disgrace to our Country and to our Military.”
According to ABC News, President Trump was also highly critical of the deal that was used to obtain Pvt. Bergdahl’s freedom from the Taliban. The Obama administration had exchanged five high profile Taliban prisoners, including enemy combatants, for Pvt. Bergdahl.
Likening the trade to the Iran nuclear deal, President Trump said, “We get Bergdahl, who was a traitor, and they get five of the greatest killers that they’ve wanted for eight years. We get Bergdahl — I call it the five for one trade.”
Regardless, the current dilemma concerns whether Pvt. Bergdahl should be entitled to pay and benefits for his time in captivity or if he could potentially owe money to the US Army.
Normally captive soldiers are specially compensated for the hardships endured with $150,000 in addition to their normal basic pay. They could also receive certain bonuses for hostile fire pay.
This is clearly complicated by the fact that Pvt. Bergdahl was captured while deserting his post, and that he pled guilty to desertion. This could influence the Army’s determination as to whether he was a Prisoner of War (POW) and therefore entitled to any compensation.
An Army official told reporters, “My understanding is there has to be an administrative determination of his duty status at each point, from the time he was captured until now. In order to figure out what he’s owed, you’re basically going to have to start from that point of captivity.”
It’s possible that the US Army could determine he was overpaid given his desertion and would owe money to the military, though this determination is less likely.
LTC Randy Taylor told reporters that the trial will greatly affect the Army’s decision. “Based upon the results of trial, the Army is reviewing Sgt. Bergdahl’s pay and allowances. His final pay and allowances will be determined in accordance with DoD policy and Army regulation,” he said.
The Army is debating whether Bergdahl should receive payment for his time in captivity. What do you think?
While Pvt. Bergdahl’s military service prior to his desertion is deserving of compensation, his captivity was the result of his desertion and does not deserve compensation. Had Pvt. Bergdahl remained at his post, he likely would have avoided captivity and all the horrors that accompany it. His captivity also resulted in the US losing five assets that could’ve been utilized for information or the liberation of other hostages the Taliban may have obtained.
There’s no denying that his time in captivity was one of terror and pain, but he largely brought it upon himself by deserting. The military may consider his time in captivity punishment enough for his desertion, and may not find him entitled to any pay or benefits considering his capture was the result of desertion — not loyal service.