Army Inaccurately Reported Desertion Numbers

The number of deserters from the U.S. Army is higher than the military has reported.

A total of 3,196 active-duty soldiers deserted the Army last year, or 853 more than previously reported, according to revised figures from the Army.

The new calculations by the Army, which had about 500,000 active-duty troops at the end of 2006, significantly alter the annual desertion totals since the 2000 fiscal year.

Who is considered to be a deserter?


A soldier is considered a deserter if he leaves his post without permission, quits his unit or fails to report for duty with the intent of staying away permanently. Soldiers who are absent without leave — or AWOL, a designation that assumes a soldier still intends to return to duty — are automatically classified as deserters and are dropped from a unit’s rolls if they remain away for more than 30 days.

The Army maintains the Iraq War isn't the cause of the increase:

“We are looking at the rise in desertions, but the numbers remain below prewar levels, and retention remains high. So the force is healthy.”

The current number of deserters still pales in comparison to the number who deserted during the Vietnam War.

Over all, desertions, a chronic problem in the Army but hardly pervasive, now account for less than 1 percent of active-duty soldiers. The current annual rates pale in comparison with the 33,094 soldiers — 3.41 percent of the total force — who deserted the Army in 1971, during the Vietnam War.

But, we still may not be able to trust the Army's numbers:

In an e-mail statement yesterday, Colonel Hilferty also said that the record keeping was damaged in the Sept. 11 attack on the Pentagon, which destroyed personnel records.

“Unfortunately, for the past several years,” he said, “our methodology for tracking deserters at the macro level has been flawed.”

< Veto What? What Iraq Supplemental Bill Will Bush See? | U.S. Attorney to Move for Jack Abramoff Sentencing Reduction >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    Thank you for keeping track of this (none / 0) (#1)
    by Militarytracy on Fri Mar 23, 2007 at 08:34:02 AM EST
    It's hard keeping the bean counters in uniform honest right now.