Saturday, November 17, 2007

Desertions highest since 2001

Army Times, Saturday Nov 17, 2007

In a likely reflection of the continued strain of multiple deployments to a 4½-year war, the number of soldiers deserting the Army skyrocketed during the past fiscal year to its highest level since 2001.

All told, 4,698 soldiers were declared deserters, according to Lt. Col. Darryl Darden of the Army’s office of the deputy chief of staff for manpower and personnel. That is a 42.3 percent increase over the previous fiscal year, and the highest annual total since fiscal year 2001, when 4,399 troops deserted.
More disturbingly, the pace of Army desertions appears to have increased even during fiscal 2007: 63.6 percent of the year’s 4,698 desertions were recorded from April through September, according to Army data.

At the same time, desertions fell in two of the other three services. A total of 1,036 Marines walked away last fiscal year, marking a three-year decline. Navy desertions — 1,129 during the 12 months ending Sept. 30 — fell for the seventh straight year.

And a mere 16 airmen left the Air Force for more than 30 days, the time a service member must be absent without leave before being declared a deserter.

Military-wide statistics are kept by calendar year, so 2007 numbers are not yet available. The Defense Department’s 2006 calendar-year desertion total, 5,361, was an increase of 219 over the previous year and reversed a 3-year decline. Given the rapid rise in Army desertions in the last half of fiscal 2007, however, that number could increase.

The Army has borne the brunt of the contentious Iraq war. Thousands of troops are on their second, third and even fourth deployments. Soldiers currently deploy to Iraq for 15 months and come home for 12; leaders at all levels lament the lack of “dwell time,” saying troops need more time to rest and reconnect with families as well to properly train for the next deployment.

Troops in mobilized, deployed and deploying units who have reached the end of their enlistment contracts fall under the ongoing “stop-loss” program and cannot be discharged.
That strain largely explains the rise in desertions, said Lawrence Korb, formerly a senior Pentagon personnel official in the Reagan administration and now a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress. “It’s a combination of not enough dwell time, and having to go back [to the war] as well as the type of people you’re taking in,” Korb said.

The increased rate of desertions in fiscal 2007’s second half, he said, coincided with the surge of troops sent to Iraq. “A lot of them probably didn’t want to go back,” Korb said. “And don’t forget, you’ve lowered your standards of people you’re taking in.”

More at the link. H/T Helena Cobban.
I report, you decide.

Interesting concept: "dwell time." Love those military buzzwords.

The Army gets bad marks, but the other branches look better. Nearly five thousand for the Army, a little over a thousand each for the Navy and Marines, and only sixteen for the Air Force. These are fiscal year numbers, not calendar years.

One Pentagon spokesman said, “A lot of them probably didn’t want to go back...And don’t forget, you’ve lowered your standards of people you’re taking in.” Ya think?

Tick, tick, tick...

October 19, 2004

April 01, 2007

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