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  1. #1
    MembersZone Subscriber MalahatTwo7's Avatar
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    Default I Hope The Phrasology Is Wrong Here

    Desertion seems like a very harsh word to use, and I hope that the Media are simply using it incorrectly. I know there is a fine line between desertion and "simply" being absent without leave or authority. However.....

    USA Today March 7, 2006

    Fewer Troops Desert Since 9/11 8,000 have left posts since Iraq war began

    By Bill Nichols, USA Today

    WASHINGTON — At least 8,000 members of the all-volunteer U.S. military have deserted since the Iraq war began, Pentagon records show, although the overall desertion rate has plunged since the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001.

    Since fall 2003, 4,387 Army soldiers, 3,454 Navy sailors and 82 Air Force personnel have deserted. The Marine Corps does not track the number of desertions each year but listed 1,455 Marines in desertion status last September, the end of fiscal 2005, says Capt. Jay Delarosa, a Marine Corps spokesman.

    Desertion records are kept by fiscal year, so there are no figures from the beginning of the war in March 2003 until that fall.

    Some lawyers who represent deserters say the war in Iraq is driving more soldiers to question their service and that the Pentagon is cracking down on deserters to discourage anti-war sentiment.

    “The last thing (Pentagon officials) want is for people to think … that this is like Vietnam,” says Tod Ensign, head of Citizen Soldier, an anti-war group that offers legal aid to deserters.

    Desertion numbers have dropped since 9/11. The Army, Navy and Air Force reported 7,978 desertions in 2001, compared with 3,456 in 2005. The Marines showed 1,603 deserters in 2001. That declined by 148 in 2005.

    The desertion rate was much higher during the Vietnam era. The Army saw a high of 33,094 deserters in 1971 — 3.4% of the Army force. But there was a draft and the active-duty force was 2.7 million.

    Desertions in 2005 represent 0.24% of the 1.4 million U.S. forces.

    Opposition to the war prompts a small fraction of desertions, says Army spokeswoman Maj. Elizabeth Robbins. “People always desert, and most do it because they don't adapt well to the military,” she says. The majority of desertions happen inside the USA, Robbins says. There is only one known case of desertion in Iraq.

    Most deserters return without coercion. Commander Randy Lescault, spokesman for the Naval Personnel Command, says that between 2001 and 2005, 58% of Navy deserters walked back in. Of the rest, most are apprehended during traffic stops.

    Penalties range from other-than-honorable discharges to death for desertion during wartime.
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  2. #2
    Forum Member DaSharkie's Avatar
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    If I recall the UCMJ correctly, desertion is the charge if you away from your appointed duty station or assignment after 30 days.

    There is also the charge of unauthorized absence (UA) and AWOL which also happens after a certain time as well.

    Also, desertion in time of war is punishable by death. As is falling asleep at your duty station in time of war.

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  3. #3
    MembersZone Subscriber MalahatTwo7's Avatar
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    In the Canadian Forces, according to Queens Regulations and Orders, Article 103.21, and Section 88 of the National Defence Act, dersertion is defined (in part) as "A person who has been absent without authority for a continuous period of six months or more shall, unless the contrary is proved, be presumed to have had the intention of remaining absent from his place of duty."

    In 19 years of service, I have only seen one case of desertion, and he was a new kid fresh out from Recruit School and on his way to the next training assignment. Rather than go through essentially "Life Ending" actions, we simply released him. That was about 17 or 18 years ago. I've not heard of any other cases since.

    That being said, we not longer carry the death penalty for desertion or traitorous actions in face of the enemy. However life term sentences can be a really long time.

    This is one of those really interesting parts of military lore, as each country has its own way of dealing with a common problem. From what I saw in Cyprus, the Turkish and Greek armies still use (in 1988/89) direct negative/positive reinforcement to their regulations. That means I saw on a fairly regular basis officers striking their subordinates for minor infractions. There were tales of officers shooting soldiers who were caught sleeping while on OP duty, but not at any time during my tour did we have reports of that.
    Last edited by MalahatTwo7; 03-08-2006 at 08:14 AM.
    If you don't do it RIGHT today, when will you have time to do it over? (Hall of Fame basketball player/coach John Wooden)

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    MembersZone Subscriber EFD840's Avatar
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    What's really interesting to me is how this story is a great example to the test political leanings of an editor. The USA today headline seems pretty balanced but I've seen this story linked to in various other places where the headline makes you think the US military is quitting en-mass even though the meat of the story is a positive one about desertions being down during a time of high stress for our military.

  5. #5
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    Well this was an interesting 10 minute google on Desertion rates

    Desertion = away without the intent to return. Their is a permissive presumption for the "30 day" rule -- it's not that you're automatically considered deserted after 30 days, but the commander or whoever is responsible for making the decision is allowed at that point to presume your intention is not to return if there is not evidence contrary.

    So I suppose if you leave a note you'll be back in 45 days, you're not technically deserting...

    From the LA Times in '03:
    Officials say today's Army takes a passive, good-riddance approach to its runaways, who account for fewer than 1 percent of enlistees. Prosecutions and prison sentences have become rare. Most of the several thousand deserters who bolt each year aren't actively pursued. Of those who do wind up in custody, more than 90 percent are discharged as quickly as the paperwork can be processed.

    ...
    The Army has been a volunteer vocation since the end of the Vietnam War-era draft, so commanders have grown increasingly content to cut loose anyone unwilling to fight. A similar attitude prevails in the Marine Corps and Navy, officials say, and it hasn't changed because of the campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq.

    ...
    A 2002 study by the Army Research Institute found that about 70 percent of deserters left during their first year of duty. They tended to be younger than the average recruit and more likely to come from broken homes. Many had been in trouble with the law before. The majority cited either family problems or a ''failure to adapt'' as the reason they deserted.


    And what I found most fascinating...

    While Army, Navy, and Marines all have desertion in the thousands, the Air Force only chalks up about 50 a year.

    I can't imagine the raw "awol" rates are that different...I'd assume the Air Force is keeping people around that the other 3 services just hand the less-than-honorable paperwork to and say "sign on the dotted line."

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