Sri Lanka: March 5, 2003



The army will not prosecute 51,000 deserters and will instead discharge them. This is the total number of men who have deserted since 1949. The navy, with 4,800 deserters, and the air force, with nearly 5,000, are planning to do the same thing. Many of the men listed as deserters were unable to get transportation back to their units after taking home leave. Nevertheless, Sri Lankan men tend to have a casual attitude towards military service. Last year, there were 7,000 army deserters, even though there was a ceasefire with the LTTE and no fighting. Current army strength is about 120,000, with another 30,000 in the navy and air force.  


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