Bowe Bergdahl
US Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl leaves the courthouse after an arraignment hearing for his court-martial in Fort Bragg, North Carolina Reuters

US Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl who deserted his post in Afghanistan and was held captive for five years appeared for the first time in front of a military judge on charges spurred by his disappearance.

Bergdahl entered no plea during the arraignment at Fort Bragg in North Carolina on Tuesday 22 December.

According to The Associated Press, Bergdahl also did not make a decision whether he wants to face a court-martial with a jury or one with just a judge. "The accused wishes to defer for reflection," Bergdahl's attorney, Lieutenant Colonel Franklin Rosenblatt said.

Colonel Christopher Federikson, the judge in the hearing, told Bergdahl that if he opted against a bench trial, he would face a panel of officers all ranked higher than him.

The judge explained that if the jury found him guilty and chose to sentence him to over 10 years in prison, it would be through a three-fourths vote via secret ballot.

CNN reported that Bergdahl spoke very little during the hearing, other than responding "yes" or "no" to questions over whether he understood what his rights were and the court proceedings.

Around 50 journalists and military personnel, attended the 11-minute hearing.

The 29-year-old left his post at Combat Outpost Mest-Malak in Afghanistan's Paktika province on 29 June 2009. His disappearance, and subsequent capture by the Taliban, sparked a 45-day official search. The US then spent years attempting to discover his whereabouts and bring him back home.

Major General Kenneth Dahl, who led the military investigation of Bergdahl's disappearance and capture, said that no soldiers directly involved in his search were killed. Dahl also said that Bergdahl did not sympathise with the Taliban.

Bergdahl's release was secured by US President Barack Obama in a prisoner swap announced on 31 May 2014. The soldier, who was exchanged for five Taliban members held at Guantanamo Bay, returned to the US two weeks later.

The next pre-trial hearing is scheduled for 12 January with Army Judge Colonel Jeffery R Nance who will preside over future hearings.