The Guardian 25 April, 2007

Desertions from the US army on the rise

WASHINGTON — Desertions and other unauthorised absences of soldiers from the US Army have considerably increased in the last four years, according to The New York Times.

In 2006, 3,196 soldiers left the army, a total showing an increase since 2004, when 2,357 US soldiers fled from active service.

That trend in military units led to thousands of court martials during the period, involving both recent recruits and veterans from combat in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Military sources state that court martials for desertion have increased since the start of the war on Iraq in March 2003.

From 2002 to 2006, the annual average for abandoning one’s duty tripled in relation to the five years from 1997 to 2002 to reach approximately 6% of conscripts, from a 2% in previous samples.

According to Dr Thomas Grieger, a US Marines psychiatric expert, the majority of the soldiers were psychologically pressured by the hazardous course of the war in the Middle East and many of them refused to return to the battlefront.

Grieger cited the case of a rookie sergeant who chopped off his trigger finger with a hatchet to avoid his mobilisation.


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