While I believe that soldiers should be allowed to leave the Army at will, there is no doubt in my mind that Bowe Bergdahl deserted his post. He swore to become a member of the army, left a note on his bed that he was disillusioned, and slinked out of the base. Under the modern deifintion of deserter, Bowe is indeed one.
The has been a depressingly high suicide rate in the ranks. There was a definite leadership deficit in the unit, following poor mission definition from the leaders of our country. When you are being misguided, and bullied by your disfunctional team, who would not want to leave. It is a poorly managed effort and many have died disillusioned and disappointed.
No, there iis not sufficient evidence to prove that Bowe Bergdahl deserted the army while serving in Afghanistan. Although the testimony from his fellow soldiers accuses him of leaving his post without his equipment, they do not actually know what his intentions were at the time. Without knowing what he planned, there is no reason to assume that he willfully deserted.
From what I understand of Bowe Bergdahl's last interactions before he was captured by the Taliban, he was obviously disillusioned with the United States and perhaps depressed by his role as a soldier. He may even have wanted to desert, or been in the process of deciding to do so. However, it seems like when he was captured, he was not shirking any patrols or tasks required of him (a tiny bit of free time perhaps), and seemingly had not been missing or presumed a deserter before word came that he'd been captured. He may have wanted to leave, but I do not believe that he had tried to act on those thoughts at the time he was taken. If they'd never captured him, he may have deserted or he may have stayed. That is something we will not have the chance to know. Not knowing what might have been in some alternate future time line, I prefer to understand and stick to the technicalities. He was not officially a deserter before he was captured, so he cannot officially be classified a deserter now that he has been released from Taliban captivity.
While the evidence is very interesting and I would like to know what he was doing leaving the camp so late at night and unarmed, I still think we need to hear what he says before we can officially call him a deserter. When all of the evidence comes out then we can make a determination, but for right now I believe he is innocent until proven otherwise.
I was in Bowe's unit and from what I understand of him and the people he was with he was the victim of bullying. Yes I know it sounds ridiculous to think that a grown man can be the victim of bullying but under the extreme stress of combat being bullied leads to social isolation and eventually suicide. This is what I believe leads to much of the suicide we see in the military and in Bergdahl's case this was a case of passive suicide much like suicide by cop.