In a statement to the Associated Press Tuesday, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey revealed that the U.S. Army might conduct an investigation into the circumstances of recently returned Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s disappearance from his base in 2009.
His first statement regarding the ongoing controversy indicated that his comments would be limited because he doesn’t want to make any assumptions or unduly influence the decisions of other military officials.
Dempsey did acknowledge that leaders with Americas’ armed forces “have been accused of looking away from misconduct,” noting that any assumption they would do the same regarding the former prisoner of war is premature.
The Army has an array of possible actions through which it could determine Bergdahl’s status, he noted. Officials could pursue a court martial or seek a non-judicial punishment related to less-serious charges. It is also possible, Dempsey explained, that the military could sentence him to time-served after taking his status as a prisoner of war into consideration.
He reported that he has not yet talked to Bergdahl regarding the situation, citing the recommendation of medical professionals that he be given sufficient time to adjust to his newfound freedom. Though he remains physically sheltered from the potential repercussions of his actions for now, plenty of public outrage surrounds his alleged desertion and the deal made to facilitate his release.
Bergdahl’s fellow soldiers report that he left a note explaining he did not support the military’s mission and wanted to start a new life. After he was reported missing, a recovery mission reportedly resulted in the deaths of several soldiers involved.
According to the AP report, Dempsey also weighed in on reports that Bergdahl is set for a promotion. He indicated that, since the soldier is no longer missing in action, such an advancement in rank is no longer a given.
Dempsey explained that missing soldiers are routinely promoted alongside their fellow soldiers; however, Bergdahl’s “status has now changed,” meaning “the requirements for promotion are more consistent with normal duty status.”