Attrition: Desertion Rate Up in Britain

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March 26, 2006: Britain has had an increase in desertions since 2003. In that year, 135 troops walked away from their military service. That's from a force of about 187,000 troops. In 2004, there were 230 desertions, and 383 last year. The less serious AWOL (Absent Without Leave) cases amounted to about 2,600 a year, and has not changed much. Britain has an all-volunteer force, but the government is trying to make the penalty for those who desert, after being ordered to a foreign posting, life in prison. About 110 British troops have been killed in Iraq so far. There are currently about 8,000 British troops in Iraq, with a much smaller force in Afghanistan. Normally, desertions are caused by personal problems having little to do with the military. But the recent increase indicated that between one and two percent of the troops ordered to Iraq, decide to desert instead. Britain has an all-volunteer force, but the government is trying to make the penalty for those who desert, after being ordered to a foreign posting, life in prison. Currently, deserters risk, at most, a few years imprisonment. While some deserters are making a political statement, most are just unhappy with the frequent overseas deployments British troops have been subject to since the war on terror began.

 


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