Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdah

Recently, the Associated Press announced that Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl plans to plead guilty to desertion and misbehavior before the enemy. This may seem like the right move for Bergdahl, who may well be the most universally reviled American soldiers of his generation.

The Plea Statement

If he does indeed plea out, that decision will nearly bring to an end one of the most watched military controversies over the past eight years. After leaving his unit in the field, Bergdahl was captured by the Taliban and held captive for about five years.

Since he was released into the care of the military, Bergdahl has become an epithet. President Trump has said he should have been executed, and millions of Americans absolutely agree with that assessment. Instead, he will face about five years for desertion and a possible life sentence for the other charge. Now, a judge will decide his fate. The sentencing phase is expected to start later in October. That is expected to be a heavily reported event. Several soldiers who were wounded while on a mission to find Bergdahl, are planning to testify.

Media Not Jumping to Conclusion

The media has not said whether or not the defendant’s plea is part of a deal previously reached by the advocates involved. At this point, only an Army spokesman has offered comment, telling the Associated Press: “We continue to maintain careful respect for the military-judicial process, the rights of the accused and ensuring the case’s fairness and impartiality during this ongoing legal case…”

Public opinion, though, is not necessarily inclined to “impartiality” in this case. Bergdahl, no matter what happens during the sentencing in his trial, will likely see his name go down in historic infamy.

Military desertions are certainly nothing new, but this particular case became a political hot-button from nearly the moment it was first reported. When the Obama administration officials worked out a deal to get Bergdahl back, pundits on the right went ballistic. From that moment forward, every aspect of this case became a high-profile political matter, not just another military disciplinary action.

History with Bergdahl

Back in May 2014, Bergdahl was traded by the Taliban for the return of five Taliban detainees from Guantanamo Bay prison. This five-to-one swap further enraged those who were already angry with Bergdahl. They called him a “traitor” and worse. President Obama countered, saying, “We do not leave our men or women in uniform behind… Whatever those circumstances may turn out to be, we still get an American soldier back if he’s held in captivity. Period. Full stop.”

But Bergdahl’s detractors and President Obama’s political foes were not the least bit finished, and they had no intention of stopping.

Those added factors put a massive amount of political and PR pressure on everyone making any decisions in this case, and it virtually assures Bergdahl that any hope of redemption and repairing his reputation is a longshot, at best.

Ronn Torossian is the Founder and CEO of the New York based public relations firm 5WPR: one of the 20 largest PR Firms in the United States.

ronn torossian - Bergdahl expected to offer “guilty” plea

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Ronn Torossian is the Founder, President and CEO of New York-based 5W Public Relations. He has overseen the company's rapid growth and expansion to the Inc. 500 list, as well as provided counsel to hundreds of companies, including members of the Fortune 500, Inc. 500 and Forbes 400. His work spans global interests, corporate entities, high-profile individuals, regional business entities, government agencies and academic institutions - both on routine public relations matters and extremely sensitive issues. One of the foremost public relations experts in the U.S., Torossian is known for his aggressive, results-focused orientation, as well as his close working relationships with members of the media, influencers, decision makers, politicians and celebrities. At 5W Public Relations, Torossian's client experience has included programs for Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Anheuser-Busch, Barnes & Noble, Cantor Fitzgerald, IHOP, McDonald's, Evian, EDS, VeriSign, XM Radio, Seagram's, The Loews Regency, Bad Boy Worldwide Entertainment, Marriott Hotels, Vail Resorts, Pamela Anderson, Snoop Dogg, the Government of Israel, and others. Referred to by The New York Post as a "publicity guru," by Fox News as a "high-powered PR CEO," by Tyra Banks as a "crisis management guru," and by CNN as "a leading PR expert," Torossian is regularly featured in and quoted by the media, including by CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, NBC, The New York Times, and others. CBS National News said "Ronn Torossian knows spin," and a New York Times feature story on Torossian referred to him as "The consummate hard-driving, scrappy NY publicist." Earlier in his career, Torossian was a Vice President/Group Director for one of The InterPublic Group's (IPG) largest PR agencies, where he was responsible for significant client growth and successful client programs, including work for Clinique, Fox News Channel, DHL, Hard Rock Café and others. A resident of Manhattan’s Upper West Side, Torossian was named to the Advertising Age "40 Under 40" list, PR Week's "40 Under 40" List, is a regular lecturer at universities and conferences, a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO) and a board member of numerous non-profit organizations.