Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl spared prison time for deserting Afghanistan post, Trump calls the sentence a 'disgrace'

FORT BRAGG, N.C., Nov 3 (Reuters) - U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl on Friday was spared prison time for endangering fellow troops when he deserted his post in Afghanistan in 2009, but a military judge ordered he should be dishonorably discharged from the service.

Bergdahl, now 31, was captured by the Taliban and spent nearly five years under brutal captivity by the insurgent group. He had faced up to life imprisonment after pleading guilty to desertion and misbehavior before the enemy in a case that sparked debate on whether Bergdahl was a villain or a victim.

The sentence drew swift condemnation from President Donald Trump, who called it "a complete and total disgrace to our Country and to our Military" in a Twitter post from Air Force One as he flew on the first leg of a trip to Asia.

RELATED: A look at Bowe Bergdahl

31 PHOTOS
Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl and his desertion case
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Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl and his desertion case
U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl leaves the courthouse after the first day of sentencing proceedings in his court martial was adjourned at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, U.S., October 23, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake
Eugene Fidell (R), U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl's civilian defense attorney, arrives with Bergdahl's judge advocate Lt. Col. Franklin Rosenblatt (L) at the courthouse for the start of sentencing proceedings in his court martial at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, U.S., October 23, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake
U.S. Army Private Bowe Bergdahl watches as one of his captors displays his identity tag to the camera at an unknown location in Afghanistan, July 19, 2009. The U.S. military denounced on Sunday the release of the video showing a soldier captured in Afghanistan, describing the images as Taliban propaganda that violated international law. REUTERS/via Reuters TV (AFGHANISTAN MILITARY CONFLICT)
FT. BRAGG, NC - JULY 7: U.S. Army Sgt. Robert Bowdrie 'Bowe' Bergdahl (right), 30 of Hailey, Idaho, leaves the Ft. Bragg military courthouse during a recess in a pretrial military hearing on July 7, 2016 in Ft. Bragg, North Carolina. Bergdahl faces charges of desertion and endangering troops stemming from his decision to leave his outpost in 2009, which landed him five years in Taliban captivity. (Photo by Sara D. Davis/Getty Images)
U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl is pictured in this undated handout photo provided by the U.S. Army. U.S. Army/Handout via Reuters THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS
HAILEY, ID - JUNE 01: Yellow ribbons line Main Street as the hometown of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl awaits his homecoming on June 1, 2014 in Hailey, Idaho. Sgt. Bergdahl was captured in Afghanistan in 2009 while serving with U.S. Armys 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment in Paktika Province. Yesterday he was released after a swap for 5 prisoners being held at Guantanamo Bay was arranged. Bergdahl was considered the only U.S. prisoner of war held in Afghanistan. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 31: President Barack Obama makes a statement about the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl as his parents, Jani Bergdahl (L) and Bob Bergdahl (R) listen May 31, 2014 in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, DC. Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was held captive by militants for almost five years during the war in Afghanistan. (Photo by J.H. Owen-Pool/Getty Images)
Undated image from video footage taken from a Taliban-affiliated website shows a man who says he is Private First Class Bowe R. Bergdahl, a U.S. soldier captured by the Taliban in southeastern Afghanistan in late June. The Afghan Taliban said on December 25, 2009 that they had issued a new video tape of Bergdahl and added that in it he asks his government to take part in a prisoner exchange deal. REUTERS via Reuters TV (CONFLICT CIVIL UNREST) FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS
An undated family handout of U.S. Army private Bowe Bergdahl, 23, who is being held captive and detained by Taliban forces in Afghanistan, released to Reuters on July 22, 2009. Afghanistan's Taliban called on Americans to put pressure on their government over the capture of Bergdahl, saying in an internet message released over the weekend that Washington could not win the war despite its modern weaponry. REUTERS/Family Handout (UNITED STATES MILITARY HEADSHOT) FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS
SAN ANTONIO, TX - JUNE 13: (From left) Colonel Bradley Poppen, Ph.D., Major General Joseph P. DiSalvo, and Colonel Ronald N. Wool deliver a press conference at the Fort Sam Houston Golf Course July 13, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas. They are reporting on Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, his return to the United States, and reintegration at Brooke Army Medical Center after being a prison of war under Taliban captivity. (Photo by Drew Anthony Smith/Getty Images)
FT. BRAGG, NC - JULY 7: U.S. Army Sgt. Robert Bowdrie 'Bowe' Bergdahl, 30 of Hailey, Idaho, arrives at the Ft. Bragg military courthouse with his legal counsel for a pretrial military hearing on July 7, 2016 in Ft. Bragg, North Carolina. Bergdahl faces charges of desertion and endangering troops stemming from his decision to leave his outpost in 2009, which landed him five years in Taliban captivity. (Photo by Sara D. Davis/Getty Images)
A billboard calling for the release of U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, held for nearly five years by the Taliban after being captured in Afghanistan, is shown in this picture taken near Spokane, Washington on February 25, 2014. Bergdahl has been released and is now in U.S. custody, President Barack Obama said on May 31, 2014. Picture taken on February 25, 2014. REUTERS/Jeff T. Green (UNITED STATES - Tags: MILITARY POLITICS CIVIL UNREST CONFLICT TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)
U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl (R) is escorted as he arrives at the courthouse for the start of sentencing proceedings in his court martial at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, U.S., October 23, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake
U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl (R) is escorted into the courthouse for the start of sentencing proceedings in his court martial at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, U.S., October 23, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake
FORT BRAGG, NC - OCTOBER 16: U.S. Army Sgt. Robert Bowdrie 'Bowe' Bergdahl, 29 of Hailey, Idaho, leaves the Ft. Bragg military courthouse for a lunch recess after pleading guilty to desertion and misbehavior before the enemy on October 16, 2017 in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Bergdahl could face life in prison stemming from his decision to leave his outpost in 2009, which landed him five years in Taliban captivity. (Photo by Sara D. Davis/Getty Images)
FT. BRAGG, NC - DECEMBER 22: Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl (2nd R) of Hailey, Idaho, leaves a military courthouse with his attorney Lt. Col. Franklin Rosenblatt (L) on December 22, 2015 in Ft. Bragg, North Carolina. Bergdahl was arraigned on charges of desertion and endangering troops stemming from his decision to leave his outpost in Afghanistan in 2009. He was captured by the Taliban and spent five years in captivity before being freed in a prisoner exchange. (Photo by Sara D. Davis/Getty Images)
BOISE, ID - JUNE 01: Bob Bergdahl speaks about the release of his son Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl during a press conference at Gouen Field national guard training facility on June 1, 2014 in Boise, Idaho. Sgt. Bergdahl was captured in 2009 while serving with U.S. Armys 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment in Paktika Province, Afghanistan. Bergdahl was considered the only U.S. prisoner of war held in Afghanistan. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 31: President Barack Obama walks with the parents of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, Jani Bergdahl (L) and Bob Bergdahl (R) back to the Oval Office after making a statement regarding the release of Sgt. Bergdahl from captivity May 31, 2014 in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, DC. Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was held captive by militants for almost five years during the war in Afghanistan. (Photo by J.H. Owen-Pool/Getty Images)
FT. BRAGG, NC - DECEMBER 22: Military personnel leave the Ft. Bragg Courthouse after the arraignment of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl on December 22, 2015 in Ft. Bragg, North Carolina. Bergdahl faces charges of desertion and endangering troops stemming from his decision to leave his outpost in Afghanistan in 2009. He was captured by the Taliban and spent five years in captivity before being freed in a prisoner exchange. Bergdahl now faces a maximum five-year penalty if ultimately convicted by a military jury of desertion, as well as potential life imprisonment on the more serious charge of misbehavior before the enemy. (Photo by Sara D. Davis/Getty Images)
BOISE, ID - JUNE 01: Bob Bergdahl listens as his wife Jani reads a message to their son Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl during a press conference at Gouen Field national guard training facility on June 1, 2014 in Boise, Idaho. Sgt. Bergdahl who was captured in 2009 while serving with U.S. Armys 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment in Paktika Province, Afghanistan was released yesterday after a swap for Taliban prisoners. Bergdahl was considered the only U.S. prisoner of war held in Afghanistan. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
HAILEY, ID - JUNE 01: A sign announcing the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl sits in the window of the Hailey Paint and Supply store on Main Street June 1, 2014 in Hailey, Idaho. Sgt. Bergdahl was captured in Afghanistan in 2009 while serving with U.S. Armys 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment in Paktika Province. Yesterday he was released after a swap for 5 prisoners being held at Guantanamo Bay was arranged. Bergdahl was considered the only U.S. prisoner of war held in Afghanistan. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
HAILEY, ID - JUNE 01: A sign announcing the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl sits outside the Power House restaurant on Main Street June 1, 2014 in Hailey, Idaho. Sgt. Bergdahl was captured in Afghanistan in 2009 while serving with U.S. Armys 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment in Paktika Province. Yesterday he was released after a swap for 5 prisoners being held at Guantanamo Bay was arranged. Bergdahl was considered the only U.S. prisoner of war held in Afghanistan. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 10: Senate Armed Services Committee Member U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) talks with reporters after being briefed by military officals about the prisoner exchange that freed Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl at the U.S. Capitol June 10, 2014 in Washington, DC. The trade of Bergdahl for five senior Taliban officials has angered some members of Congress because they were not informed of the swap beforehand. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
HAILEY, ID - JUNE 02: A poster showing support for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl and signed by guests is taped to the wall inside Zaney's coffee shop where Bergdahl worked as a teenager on June 2, 2014 in Hailey, Idaho. Sgt. Bergdahl was released from captivity on May 31 after being captured in Afghanistan in 2009 while serving with U.S. Armys 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment in Paktika Province. He was released after a deal was worked out to swap his freedom for the freedom of 5 Taliban prisoners being held at Guantanamo Bay. Bergdahl was considered the only U.S. prisoner of war held in Afghanistan. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
HAILEY, ID - JUNE 02: The home of Bob and Jani Bergdahl is tucked into the base of a hill about 5 miles outside of town on June 2, 2014 near Hailey, Idaho. Sgt. Bergdahl's family and residents in the small town of Hailey are waiting for the return of Sgt. Bergdahl who was released from captivity on May 31. Bergdahl was captured by Taliban forces in Afghanistan in 2009 while serving with U.S. Armys 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment in Paktika Province. He was released after a deal was worked out to swap his freedom for the freedom of 5 Taliban prisoners being held at Guantanamo Bay. Bergdahl was considered the only U.S. prisoner of war held in Afghanistan. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
HAILEY, ID - JUNE 02: The home of Bob and Jani Bergdahl is tucked into the base of a hill about 5 miles outside of town on June 2, 2014 near Hailey, Idaho. Sgt. Bergdahl's family and residents in the small town of Hailey are waiting for the return of Sgt. Bergdahl who was released from captivity on May 31. Bergdahl was captured by Taliban forces in Afghanistan in 2009 while serving with U.S. Armys 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment in Paktika Province. He was released after a deal was worked out to swap his freedom for the freedom of 5 Taliban prisoners being held at Guantanamo Bay. Bergdahl was considered the only U.S. prisoner of war held in Afghanistan. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JUNE 10: Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.,speaks with reporters as he leaves the Senate Armed Services Committee briefing in the Capitol on the Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl prisoner exchange on Tuesday, June 10, 2014. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 18: (L-R) Andy Andrews, father of deceased U.S. Army 2nd Lt. Darryn Andrews, retired Army Spc. Cody Full, who served with Sgt. Bergdahl in Blackfoot Company, Second Platoon, and Mike Waltz, who commanded a Special Forces Company in Eastern Afghanistan in 2009, testify about the Bergdahl prisoner swap during a House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Capitol Hill, June 18, 2014 in Washington, DC. The subcommittee heard testimony on Implications for U.S. National Security due to the Bowe Bergdahl prisoner swap. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
SAN ANTONIO, TX - SEPTEMBER 17: U.S. Army MSG Frank Minnie announces the ground rules to the media covering the Article 32 preliminary hearing in the Bowe Bergdahl desertion case at Fort Sam Houston on September 17, 2015 in San Antonio, Texas. The hearing will decide if Bergdahl will face a military trial for leaving his post in Afghanistan. (Photo by Erich Schlegel/Getty Images)
SAN ANTONIO, TX - JUNE 13: A sign for Brooke Army Medical Center is seen on June 13, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas. Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl returned to the United States and is being cared for at Brooke Army Medical Center after being a prisoner of war for five years in Afghanistan. (Photo by Drew Anthony Smith/Getty Images)
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As a Republican candidate for president last year, Trump, now the military's commander in chief, called Bergdahl "a no-good traitor who should have been executed."

In a military courtroom at Fort Bragg in North Carolina late Friday morning, Bergdahl trembled as he waited to hear his punishment.

Army Colonel Jeffery Nance delivered the sentence in a hearing that lasted just two minutes, and did not comment on his decision. He also recommended that the Hailey, Idaho, native be demoted to private and forfeit $10,000 in pay.

Defense lawyers, who had urged Nance to show leniency, said Bergdahl was relieved and eager to move on.

"This has been a terrible ordeal," Eugene Fidell, one of the soldier's lawyers, said after the hearing.

Prosecutors, who had sought 14 years of confinement, did not comment.

A dishonorable discharge, given for the most serious offenses, typically means a loss of all veteran and military benefits, including healthcare from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

That could pose difficulties for Bergdahl, who, according to testimony, suffers significant nerve damage as a result of malnutrition and torture while a prisoner of the Taliban and has several mental health conditions.

The discharge will not take effect until an appellate court affirms his conviction and sentence.

Bergdahl's actions in Afghanistan drew withering criticism from political leaders in Washington and fellow soldiers, both for the dangerous efforts to find him and the Taliban prisoner swap brokered by the Democratic Obama administration that secured his release.

In May 2014, Bergdahl was handed over to U.S. special operations forces in Afghanistan in exchange for five Taliban detainees, who were released from Guantanamo Bay prison and flown to Qatar.

Nance, acting on a defense motion, had previously ruled that Trump's comments had not influenced him nor affected Bergdahl's chances of a fair sentence, but said he would consider them a mitigating factor.

Defense attorney Fidell said on Friday that Americans should be offended by Trump's behavior.

"President Trump's unprincipled effort to stoke a lynch-mob atmosphere while seeking our nation's highest office has cast a dark cloud over the case," the lawyer said.

RELATED: The past 16 years at war in Afghanistan

23 PHOTOS
The past 16 years at war in Afghanistan
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The past 16 years at war in Afghanistan
The United States and Britain on October 7, 2001 launched a first wave of air strikes against Afghanistan and President George W. Bush said the action heralded a "sustained, comprehensive and relentless" campaign against terrorism. Eyewitnesses said they saw flashes and heard explosions over the Afghan capital of Kabul in the first phase of what the United States has said will be a protracted and wide-ranging war against terrorism and the states that support it. The attack had been prepared since the September 11 suicide attacks on the United States that killed around 5,600 people. A U.S. Air force B-52 bomber drops a load of M117 750-pound bombs over a bombing range in the United States in this undated file photo.B-52s, B-1 and B-2 stealth bombers are some of the aircraft that were reportedly used in the attacks on Afghanistan. REUTERS/USAF-Handout KM/HB
Two Northern Alliance soldiers watch as the dust and smoke rises after explosions in Taliban positions on Kalakata hill, near the village of Ai-Khanum in northern Afghanistan, November 1, 2001. The Pentagon said on Wednesday B-52s dropped heavy loads of bombs, a tactic known as carpet bombing, on Taliban troops north of Kabul as a result of improved tergeting intelligence, partly from U.S. special forces on the ground. REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko VF/CRB
U.S. Marine PV2 Eileen M. Schnetzko stands on guard at Bagram airport, March 2, 2002. U.S. troops are based at Bagram, north of Kabul. There are some 4,000 U.S. troops based in Afghanistan as part of the international war against terrorism. REUTERS/Mario Laporta REUTERS ML
A U.S. special forces soldier (L) watches while Afghan militia wait in line to turn in their weapons at a military base in Kunduz, Afghanistan October 22, 2003. A long-awaited U.N.-sponsored project to disarm, demobilise and reintegrate 100,000 soldiers across Afghanistan was under way in the north, a key step to bringing eventual peace to this war-torn country. The "New Beginnings Programme," which lets soldiers exchange their weapons for jobs, began in the northern province of Kunduz this week. REUTERS/Richard Vogel/Pool RV KAJ/FA
A Chinook helicopter hovers over U.S. troops in the village of Jegdelic, about 90 km (56 miles) southwest of Kabul, Afghanistan, in this picture taken on December 24, 2004. A U.S. military helicopter carrying up to 20 American troops crashed during an anti-guerrilla mission in eastern Afghanistan on Tuesday, U.S. officials said. The fate of those on board was not immediately known. Picture taken December 24, 2004. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood Am/mk BEST QUALITY AVAILABLE
An Afghan boy looks at U.S. soldiers as they patrol a village near the town of Makkor, southwest of Kabul April 20, 2007. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic (AFGHANISTAN)
A U.S. soldier works with a shovel as a vehicle is stuck in mud, some 70km south of Ghazni, southeastern Afghanistan April 23, 2007. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic (AFGHANISTAN)
British and a U.S. soldiers control the crowd during medical assistance in Kabul February 26, 2008. U.S. and British troops provided medical assistance worth of $50,000 to the Afghan locals in Kabul on Tuesday. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood (AFGHANISTAN)
Sgt. William Olas Bee, a U.S. Marine from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, has a close call after Taliban fighters opened fire near Garmsir in Helmand Province of Afghanistan, May 18, 2008. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic (AFGHANISTAN)
U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates (L) and U.S. Army General David McKiernan, the top U.S. and NATO Commander in Afghanistan (R) listen to Afghan governors and local officials during their visit to Forward Operating Base Airborne in the mountains of Wardak Province, Afghanistan, May 8, 2009. Gates on May 11, 2009 replaced the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, U.S. Army General David McKiernan, less than a year after he took over the war effort there. Gates said he asked for McKiernan's resignation and recommended Army Lieutenant General Stanley McChrystal, a former commander of special operations forces, to take over command of 45,000 U.S. troops and about 32,000 other troops from non-U.S. NATO countries. REUTERS/Jason Reed (AFGHANISTAN MILITARY POLITICS)
U.S. soldiers of the 2-12 Infantry, 4th Brigade prepare to tow a broken-down improvised explosive device (IED) detecting Huskie vehicle during a patrol in the Pesh Valley in Afghanistan's Kunar Province July 30, 2009. REUTERS/Tim Wimborne (AFGHANISTAN CONFLICT)
U.S. soldiers kneel during a memorial ceremony for Captain Daniel Whitten and Private First Class Zachary Lovejoy from Charlie Company, 4th Brigade combat team,1-508, 82nd Parachute Infantry Regiment at the Remote Sweeney FOB in Zabul province, southern Afghanistan, February 8, 2010. CPT Whitten from Grimes, Iowa, and PFC Lovejoy from Albuquerque, New Mexico, were killed by an IED on February 2. when on patrol in southern Afghanistan. REUTERS/Baz Ratner (AFGHANISTAN - Tags: CIVIL UNREST CONFLICT MILITARY)
Canadian soldiers play table football under flashlights at a military outpost near the village of Bazaar e Panjwaii, in the Panjwaii district of Kandahar province August 8, 2010. REUTERS/Bob Strong (AFGHANISTAN - Tags: CONFLICT MILITARY)
U.S. Army medic Staff Sergeant Rahkeem Francis with Charlie Company, 6-101 Combat Aviation Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, treats an Afghan boy with a broken leg onboard a medevac helicopter near the town of Marjah in Helmand Province, August 19, 2010. REUTERS/Bob Strong (AFGHANISTAN - Tags: CONFLICT MILITARY POLITICS)
U.S. Army soldiers from the 2nd Platoon, B battery 2-8 field artillery, fire a howitzer artillery piece at Seprwan Ghar forward fire base in Panjwai district, Kandahar province southern Afghanistan, June 12, 2011. REUTERS/Baz Ratner (AFGHANISTAN - Tags: CONFLICT MILITARY IMAGES OF THE DAY POLITICS)
An Afghan shepherd walks with a flock of sheep past a U.S. Marines armored vehicle of the Weapons Company, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines outside the Camp Gorgak in Helmand province, southern Afghanistan July 5, 2011. REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov (AFGHANISTAN - Tags: POLITICS MILITARY ANIMALS IMAGES OF THE DAY)
First Sergeant Mac Miller from Comanche Troop 3rd Squadron 4th Cavalry lift weights as he exercises in Forward Operating Base Connolly in Nangarhar province, eastern Afghanistan, March 3, 2012. Picture taken March 3, 2012. REUTERS/Erik De Castro (AFGHANISTAN - Tags: MILITARY CONFLICT)
A U.S. Army soldier and a member of the Afghan Uniform Police arm wrestle prior to a joint patrol near Command Outpost AJK (short for Azim-Jan-Kariz, a near-by village) in Maiwand District, Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, January 28, 2013. REUTERS/Andrew Burton (AFGHANISTAN - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST MILITARY SOCIETY TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)
A U.S. service member takes a "selfie" as U.S. President Barack Obama shakes hands with troops after delivering remarks at Bagram Air Base in Kabul, May 25, 2014. Obama, on a visit to Afghanistan, said on Sunday his administration would likely announce soon how many troops the United States will keep in the country, as it winds down its presence after nearly 13 years of war. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (AFGHANISTAN - Tags: POLITICS MILITARY)
Afghan children gesture at U.S. soldiers from Grim Company of the 3rd Cavalry Regiment as they stand guard near an Afghan police checkpoint during a mission near Forward Operating Base Fenty in the Nangarhar province of Afghanistan December 19, 2014. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson (AFGHANISTAN - Tags: CIVIL UNREST POLITICS MILITARY CONFLICT)
U.S. soldiers attend to a wounded soldier at the site of a blast in Kabul, Afghanistan June 30, 2015. At least 17 people were wounded in a suicide bomb attack on NATO troops as their truck convoy passed down the main road running between Kabul's airport and the U.S. embassy, police and health ministry officials said. REUTERS/Omar Sobhani TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A U.S. soldier keeps watch at the site of an explosion in Kabul, Afghanistan January 4, 2016. A large explosion struck close to Kabul airport on Monday, causing at least 10 casualties near to the area where a suicide bomber blew himself up earlier in the day in the latest in a series of attacks in the Afghan capital over the past week. REUTERS/Omar Sobhani
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Defense lawyers had argued during Bergdahl's sentencing hearing that he was a young, hardworking soldier who did not understand the full consequences of his actions when he deserted.

Bergdahl, who has said he wanted to report problems in his unit, apologized in court this week for the suffering he caused his comrades and admitted he had made "a horrible mistake."

Fidell said Bergdahl was especially grateful for "those who heroically sustained injuries" searching for him after he left his combat outpost in Paktika province in June 2009 without permission.

Prosecutors, however, said Bergdahl knew his disappearance would trigger alarm in the war zone.

They acknowledged that Bergdahl suffered during his years as a prisoner of the Taliban, but argued that did not diminish the pain of fellow service members who were wounded during the futile hunt for him. (Reporting by Greg Lacour; Writing by Colleen Jenkins; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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