Military desertion rate drops drastically since 9/11

8,000 desert during Iraq war

8,000 during the Iraq war sounds real bad, but let’s try something different for a change and put it into perspective:

Desertion numbers have dropped since 9/11. The Army, Navy and Air Force reported 7,978 desertions in 2001, compared with 3,456 in 2005. The Marine Corps showed 1,603 Marines in desertion status in 2001. That had declined by 148 in 2005.

Although a lot of people probably don’t know it, desertion isn’t an uncommon problem in the military and there are a lot of reasons people desert besides war.

“The last thing they want is for people to think … that this is like Vietnam,” says Tod Ensign, head of Citizen Soldier, an anti-war group that offers legal aid to deserters.

Besides a bit of curiosity to know what’s behind that “…”, I would like to point out that a big reason the military doesn’t want people to think this is like Vietnam is because it isn’t like Vietnam. Isn’t this quote a bit like finding someone who says “The last thing they want is for people to think that Fallujah was like the battle of Antietam.”?

At least the article has the decency to point out that the Army’s desertion rate was 3.4% during Vietnam and that the entire military’s desertion rate in 2005 was 0.24%.

And, lest anyone try to claim that the headline isn’t misleading, there’s this:

There is only one known case of desertion in Iraq.


  1. Only about 5,000 men assigned to Vietnam deserted, and just 249 of those deserted while in Vietnam. But during WW II, in the European theater alone, over 20,000 US Military men were convicted of desertion.