Misbehavior before the Enemy

As of May 2023, the United States is holding 30 detainees at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. In May 2014, former President Barack Obama notoriously released 5 terrorists in exchange for U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl who disgracefully deserted his post in Afghanistan to join enemy members of the Taliban. Bergdahl pleaded guilty in 2017 to charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy, but a federal judge voided the conviction in 2023.


Declining to hand down a prison sentence, a military judge on Friday dishonorably discharged Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl based on desertion and misbehavior before the enemy charges for leaving his base in Afghanistan, triggering a years-long search and divisive prisoner exchange. Bergdahl, 31, must also forfeit $1,000 of pay a month for 10 months and was reduced to the rank of E-1 private, according to an Army news release. The soldier pleaded guilty on Oct. 16 to walking away from his combat outpost in June 2009. He was captured by the Taliban-linked Haqqani network within hours of his disappearance, and his absence set off an intensive manhunt that is blamed for some of his comrades being seriously wounded.


U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton on Tuesday issued a 63-page ruling granting summary judgment in favor of Bergdahl, who was convicted after pleading guilty in 2017 to charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy. Walton argued that Bergdahl was denied a fair trial because the military judge who presided over the court martial, Jeffrey Nance, failed to disclose that he had applied to the executive branch for a job as an immigration judge, creating the potential for a conflict of interest.


The former prisoner of war pleaded guilty in 2017 to desertion and misbehavior before the enemy, having left his post in Afghanistan in 2009, subsequently being captured by the Taliban and held for nearly five years. Bergdahl received a dishonorable discharge, loss of rank to private, and forfeiture of $10,000 in pay. His case was appealed through the military court system, which upheld the original verdict. After exhausting his options in that system, however, Bergdahl sued the United States in federal court.


  • What Is Article 99 Of The UCMJ?

Article 99 covers incidents where an enlisted officer is charged with misbehavior before the enemy. Abandonment of the post and surrendering arms are not the only misbehaviors dealt with under this article. Any person who has caused false alarm, participated in plundering or pillaging can also be charged under Article 99.


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