Conscientious objector to face court martial?

An Army hearing officer has recommended a court-martial for a soldier charged with desertion after he refused to deploy to Iraq.

In a Feb. 16 report, Lt. Col. Linda Taylor recommended that Sgt. Kevin Benderman face a general court-martial, the most serious type. The procedure requires approval from Fort Stewart’s General Court Martial Convening Authority.

Benderman, an Army mechanic, refused to accompany his unit Jan. 7 for a second tour in Iraq, 10 days after he gave notice that he was seeking a discharge as a conscientious objector. He said he became opposed to war after serving in the 2003 invasion.

Benderman, 40, is charged with desertion and missing movement. If convicted in a general court-martial, he would face up to seven years in prison, reduction in rank to private and a dishonorable discharge.

His application for conscientious objector status is being considered separately. Fort Stewart officials say he should have deployed with his unit, the 3rd Forward Support Battalion of the 3rd Infantry Division, while that application was being processed. (AP, Feb. 24)