The recent release of Craig Bergdahl has me wondering about the status of prisoners of war from a strictly economic standpoint. When a soldier is POW, he is clearly not in a position to be able to change his "employment" but is he also left without money during that time? Put another way, does a soldier who is captured accrue pay?

That said, if the allegations hold true that Sgt. Bergdahl did in fact desert, would this affect his compensation?

While I am most interested in the specifics of the United States, I'd like to know if there is general international consensus on what happens with the finances of POWs.


1 Answer 1


Yes POW's are still considered active duty soldiers, and entitled to pay and benefits as such. In addition it is assumed that they performed their duties in an acceptable manner and any promotions that the PoW is eligible for are granted.

That said PoW's have an obligation to attempt to escape(see Article 3). There may be evidence here that Bergdahl had opportunities to escape and choose not to avail himself of them. That is a violation of general orders and could subject him to NJP or even a court martial that would likely fine him a large portion of that back pay as well as that rank he gained.

It is also possible that he was less a prisoner and more of an unwanted guest of the Taliban and that the SSG was AWOL and not a prisoner. In which case he could be charged with desertion and any back pay would likely be taken in penalty in addition to any other punishments a court martial would impose.

I would expect SSG Bergdahl will at some point become Pvt Bergdahl with a long stretch making small rocks from larger rocks.

  • 1
    you guys are making my day. any thoughts about income tax penalty exemption?
    – lowtech
    Jun 4, 2014 at 22:53
  • 1
    Any sources for the claim that POWs are obliged to escape?
    – Anixx
    Jun 5, 2014 at 5:02
  • 1
    @TomAu - That is not true. It used to be that enlisted soldiers deployed out of country in a designated combat zone did not have to pay Income tax on their earnings for the time while they were deployed. But, was changed in 1994... conveniently shortly before I was deployed to Kosovo... Though I think the 150 days thing is still true. Jun 6, 2014 at 1:45
  • 2
    If you are serving in a combat zone, you get an automatic extension of at least 180 days after you leave the combat zone: source
    – cpast
    Jun 8, 2014 at 23:48
  • 1
    @Anixx: There is the Code of the United States Fighting Force. Article III(a) includes "I will make every effort to escape and aid others to escape." However, it is unclear from that article whether this code carries the force of an order. Jun 13, 2014 at 3:37

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .