HOUSTON (AP) — An Army officer is recommending that Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl face a lower-level court martial and be spared the possibility of jail time for leaving his post in Afghanistan.

Defense attorneys say Lt. Col. Mark Visger has decided a civilian system should handle Bergdahl's case. It limits the maximum punishment reduction of rank, a bad conduct discharge and a short jail term, though that isn't being sought. Military prosecutors charged Bergdahl in March with desertion and misbehavior before the enemy, a charge that could carry a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

Bergdahl was captured by the Taliban after leaving his post on June 30, 2009, and held until last year, when he was exchanged for five Taliban commanders. His commanding officers say a 45-day search for Bergdahl put soldiers in danger.