Talk:Desertion

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Vietnam: 500 000 deserters, or 50 000?[edit]

The text says: "Approximately 50,000 American servicemen deserted." but reference 13, "Vietnam War Resisters in Canada Open Arms to U.S. Military Deserters" says ... a far cry from the 50,000 men who deserted the U.S. military during the war in Southeast Asia. ... -- 50 000 not 500 000. (Is 500 000 impossibly many?? Or is there a difference between servicemen and military personnel?) —Preceding unsigned comment added by 213.112.246.174 (talk) 10:24, 30 October 2010 (UTC)

Added dubious tag, as this also conflicts with the estimate of 50,000 draft dodgers on that page.

Roadrunner (talk) 11:22, 17 November 2010 (UTC)

Statistics, World War II deserters, sources?[edit]

Hi! The article says: "Over 21,000 US military personnel were convicted and sentenced for desertion during the 3.5 years of American involvement in World War II. There were over 16,000 men who escaped through air travel .... 4,000 men escaped by sea... The 'Lost Division' was a term given to the estimated 19,000 U.S. Army soldiers absent without leave in France at the close of World War II."

  • Does anyone have any sources for this statistics?
  • I'm looking for the total number of deserters. I suppose I should add the numbers together? 21 + 16 + 4 + 19?

/Magnus —Preceding unsigned comment added by LeoMaheo (talkcontribs) 05:02, 29 October 2010 (UTC)

Where is Soviet Union?Thousands of Soviet soldiers deserted in WW2?Many were executed.I Hope here will be a reply.Ovsek (talk) 15:19, 16 April 2013 (UTC)

Penalty for desertion[edit]

This article should discuss the penalty for desertion. Taco Deposit | Talk-o to Taco 18:03, Mar 1, 2005 (UTC)


But what are the possable penaltys for being UA? —Preceding unsigned comment added by 138.162.128.52 (talk) 18:11, 5 August 2009 (UTC)

Unsourced speculation[edit]

I moved this material from the article:

A number of military personel have come forward to claim a legal right to desert or abandon their military duties under the auspices of concientious objectorship applied after signing up for duty. Conscientious objectorship was an important part of the anti-war movements popularity during the Vietnam War, particularly because of the policy of mandatory conscription camed to be viewed as undemocratic and unprincipled. Some cite reasons that they have seen American soldiers in Iraq perpetrate cruelties upon Iraqi civilians. While few base claim that their own personal safety, others claim that their very "souls" are in jeopardy, or their religious faith would be violated should their service in the military continue. These claims, they argue, are valid because the military gave no inclination as to the details of their assigned duty, particularly with regard to dealing with civilians. Others claim that their assigned duty is limited to fighting the Iraqi army, which is now under US control, and does not extend to fighting civilians.

This looks like a hodgepodge of opinion by a non-English speaker who is speculating about troop attitudes, and was probably never in any military service, no less the U.S. services. There is no such thing as "conscientous objectorship," it is called "conscientious objection," one practices it is a "conscientious objector" (CO). CO is something that was typically used during conscription to claim the right not to serve, or to serve in a role where a CO wouldn't have to fire a weapon. Many medics (WWII esp.) were COs. COs who refused any kind of service could be, and were jailed, though AFAIK, not during Vietnam.

That one voluntarily signed up for the service is virtually prima facie evidence of an inability to claim CO. You have to show a deep commitment and understanding of a philosophy to claim to be a CO, not that you faced combat and saw it was worse than you thought. And you have to show that it is based on your core beliefs (usually religious). COs were not a significant part of the Vietnam experience; draft resistance is not the same as CO. Any material such as asserted here needs some citation.

Also, claims that you signed up for a particular duty, or that you weren't told what might happen, are nonsense. If anyone can make a credible claim they don't know that Armies fight wars, and that every single person in that Army might be in a deadly situation, they should be discharged for stupidity. It is rather like a cop getting shot at and saying "I thought I would wear a spiffy uniform, blow my whistle, and give traffic tickets." -- Cecropia | explains it all ® 20:08, 29 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Hello, Cecropia. Admittedly the section was written quickly and based mostly on my recent addition and reading about Blake Lemoine, as my entry into topic of "desertership"; with regard to the current war. "...[The writer is] speculating about troop attitudes, and was probably never in any military service, no less the U.S. services." This has nothing to do with the subject; the article is about desertership as a concept not particular to the U.S. Google has some limited searches for the term "objectorship" [1], and while not very common, the term Ill argue is a kind of misnomer for an implied status and philosophical position of the conscientious objector. It appears to be a valid term if only for the simple reason that a (particular) military may not exclusively define all terms of philosophy that relate to militarism. Wheras the status of an objector in miltary law is codified according to the various military codes, "objectorship" relates to militarism, not the military.

You distinguish between "the right not to serve," and to "serve in a role where they would not have to fire a weapon." How did the US military distinguish between these at different times? You seem to know very much about this subject which can and should be included within the article. "Prima facie evidence:" I agree that there is an important distinction here, and that this distinction is largely a difference framed by forced conscription. Hence, in the current context, though the status of "objector" does not seem legally relevant, it does seem relevant to me describe the current "ex post facto" "objectors" in a context that relates them to historical examples. What is the common thread between current "deserters?" Cowardice and lack of patriotism? The common thread seems to philosophical, regardess if its ex-post facto or anticipatory objectorship. Being a lover of knowlede, you might agree that its valid to both explore a categorical application, as well as a categorical relation to past examples.

"You have to show a deep commitment and understanding of a philosophy to claim to be a CO, not that you faced combat and saw it was worse than you thought." How many soldiers actually know in advance what "combat" is going to be like, and are all wars are comparable in this regard? "Draft resistance is not the same as CO." This is an important point, but it again does not (by the codified definitions you describe) relate to the issue of desertership. If we can agree that deserters and draft resistors are related, then we should agree that objectors ("objectorship", or "moral reasons for desertion") fit in there as well. "[Everyone knows war is hazardous]" This implies that the reason for the desertion/objection/resitance is cowardice. Understanding that you have some depth of knowledge regarding these subjects, I'm sure that's not the impression you wanted to convey. Lastly, considering that the US military currently produces a first-person shooter video game as a marketing tool for teenagers, it could be fair to say that "recruitership" depends not on a knowledge or awareness of reality, but depends rather on an ignorance of it. Regards, ==SV 03:36, 31 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Well, Steve, we have to consider that are a number of things going on here, and we can't simply use a label and make assumptions on the rights of a person with that label. First there is a gigantic legal difference between a draft resister and a deserter. A draft resister is fighting conscription, but, like it or not, conscription is considered legal according to both international and national law in virtually every jurisdiction that uses it. But at least the potential conscriptee has a reasonable argument about being forced into involuntary servitude. Notwithstanding, the U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear such cases.
Now a deserter is a huge step beyond. The deserter (even if he is a conscriptee) has taken an oath to serve. In the case of the conscriptee, it is an oath under duress, but it has been considered valid nonetheless.
Conscientious objection: this was instituted to give people who felt that they could not morally pick up a weapon the opportunity to refuse to do so. An injustice in this has been that (when I was drafted) you were expected to be a member of a religious group (JWs, Quakers) that forbade the carrying of arms. Failing that, you were expected to be able to spout Gandhi and pacifist philosophy until the Draft Board was exhausted. Though I don't agree with that premise (if you're an atheist who feels in his heart that he cannot take up arms against another, and can prove that, it would be good enough for me) I do believe that you cannot go into the service Gung Ho and then say, "whoops, I got scruples."
The argument that you have been "fooled" into going in the Army falls flat to me. When you sign up, you are signing a legal contract which spells out exactly what you are getting into and what your rights are. How is it that in my time in the Army during Viet Nam, I never met a conscriptee (or an enlistee for that matter) who ever claimed not be fully aware of what could happen. And if any did, they would have known by the end of Basic Training what was in store. When you've stabbed enough dummies, fought your fellow soldiers with pugel sticks, fired enough weapons, crawled under enough barbed wire, thrown a few live granades and heard them go "boom" (BIG boom), and had enough tracers whizzing over your head, if you still imagine you're going to spend most of your time learning local customs and meeting interesting people, I suggest you report to the Psychiatric Officer.
Short comment:As someone familiar with the recruitment process at the high school level, I can assure you that the pamphleture bears little resemblance to the reality. As you say, advanced training should give one a clue, but that comes after the contract has already been signed, and IIRC, they stick the pen in your hand while your shorts are still down at your ankles. Following common sense buyer-bewareness in civilian law isnt encouraged by military salesmen either. More later. -==SV 19:49, 3 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Now we're not dealing with conscriptees. We're dealing with people who have grown up in a world in which the US went to war in the Gulf twice, in which 9/11 killed 3,000 people, in which the US participated in invasions of Arghanistan and Iraq, with possibly more to come; in which there has been ample dissent (unlike in say, WWII, where dissent was stifled, to put it mildly), both foreign and domestic, yet they voluntareed to serve, signed a contract and took an oath and still had to go into the service and actually go into combat to figure out that they had a moral problem with being a soldier? Wow.
Now I can almost feel you champing at the bit to say "Oh, so Cecropia is telling me that they cannot desert rather than kill civilians and commit war crimes?" Not at all. If you have good reason to feel you are being ordered to commit a war crime you are entitled, in fact required, to decline the order. You will be removed from the scene and be made to explain your reasoning. If you can convince the reviewing officers that you have a case, you may find yourself returned to duty in a different unit and, if your charges are realistic enough, you can expect them to be investigated. If you can't you will be court-martialed. A court martial is a criminal proceeding and you will have the full rights of any accused to competent counsel and a defense, where you can bring up any issue.
But desert? You never have a right to desert in you have legally become a member of a valid armed force. Deserters are simply running away, and making an excuse for it. Even Canada, famous for sheltering dodgers during Viet Nam, has ordered US deserters there returned to the US for trial. Put another way, if you signed up, maybe you are not refusing to fight out of cowardice. But you are also a coward if you haven't the balls to stand up before the courts of a service you took an oath to uphold, and run away to defame your country and your fellows from the comfort of another country. -- Cecropia | explains it all ® 23:18, 31 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Steve, you brought up some interesting specific questions, and I want to deal with them:
You distinguish between "the right not to serve," and to "serve in a role where they would not have to fire a weapon." How did the US military distinguish between these at different times?
Basically, it is and was not the US military that made this distinction. It was the civilian authorities that decided the qualifications for conscription and then handed over the conscriptees (or not) to the military and told the military if they had a restricted status. From the point of view of claiming to be a CO before the draft board, you were the one who decided how to make your claim. Obviously a claim that you could not serve at all in any capacity was viewed more skeptically than a claim that you would serve, but could not fight. I will point out that those who refused to serve at all in WWII were often jailed, even if they were valid COs. Some of those who were pacifists served in medical units, often heroically, without ever picking up a rifle.
[...]What is the common thread between current "deserters?" Cowardice and lack of patriotism? The common thread seems to philosophical, regardess if its ex-post facto or anticipatory objectorship.
I won't necessarily subscribe to the judgmental term "cowardice." I think not wanting to have you ass shot off is a fine reason not to want to serve. But don't frame it in philosophical terms and hold yourself out as morally superior because you think saying "I'm scared my ass will be shot off" doesn't sound cool. Likewise I have that attitude toward the guys who went to Canada during 'Nam. Everyone knew that was an option. I considered it myself--it would have been much easier on the morning I was ordered to report to take a train to Montreal than a subway to Whitehall Street. I didn't (and don't) fault the guys who did go to Canada, but they are not heroes, as much Monday morning history has made them. They didn't fight in the war. They didn't put their butts on the line to refuse service in the U.S. They didn't fight conscription. They just left. At best, they were ciphers in the math of the war and war resistance.
Being a lover of knowlede, you might agree that its valid to both explore a categorical application, as well as a categorical relation to past examples.
I agree with that premise, but in terms of the instant article, desertion is primarily a legal concept, therefore you need to view it in terms of its legalities. By definition, a person who refuses service is not a deserter. Someone who enters the service has remedies (including making a claim of CO or refusing an unlawful order, though the former is particularly difficult) but simply leaving is not one of them. -- Cecropia | explains it all ® 06:20, 1 Apr 2005 (UTC)


Gannett News Service aricles by a reporter with an unknown reputation or agenda should not be used as a source for such so-called facts as "40,000" Desertions since 2000. If you do not have a primary source, such "facts" are worthless and do not warrant publication in an encyclopedia. Nor do they serve any use other than personal agendas in the absence of the whole picture:

http://www.signonsandiego.com/uniontrib/20060421/news_1n21deserter.html

Bizzare coinages[edit]

"Desertership" and "Recruitership?" How about "desertion" and "recruitment?" --69.245.192.52 29 June 2005 22:02 (UTC)

Confusing wording[edit]

"Of these 21,000, 49 were given the death penalty, but only Eddie Slovik was actually executed."

Presumably this should say something like "49 were sentenced to death, but...", since 'given the penalty' makes it sound as if they were actually executed. --Calair 12:13, 29 August 2006 (UTC)

It sounds perfectly fine Calair.

AWOL: Absent Without Official Leave[edit]

There's a list describing how desertion is "measured" under the headline AWOL: Absent Without Official Leave. The first four elements on the list seem to constitute that "measurement", while the last two are statements about AWOL. The last one, "If a man or woman goes AWOL during a battle, allied troops gain permission to gun them down.", really shocked me, by the way. Is that really true?

I'm 100% sure it's a mistake, so I haven't edited it, but I thought I'd at least leave a comment about it. --Odd M. Nilsen 19:21, 3 February 2007 (UTC)

More importantly, how do they ‘gun down’ somebody who is absent? ;-) Seriously, leaving one’s unit in a battle without permission/a good reason is deserting, not going AWOL. (‘I don’t want to die like the fools who stay here’ is technically a good reason, but the fools may fail to see it the same way…) Armed forces tend to try to discourage this sort of behaviour, sometimes by lethal means. However, the article should really say where that statement applies and give a citation. —xyzzyn 20:00, 3 February 2007 (UTC)

Failure to repair[edit]

In this legal opinion you will see:

"... appellant was convicted by military judge alone at
a special court-martial of failure to repair, willfully 
disobeying the lawful order of a superior commissioned officer, ..."

yup, it's __Just plain Bill 04:36, 16 February 2007 (UTC)

(the above is meant to clear up confusion between failure "to report" vs. "to repair." A soldier ordered to repair to a solitary outpost will find no one there to report to...) _Just plain Bill

==

American Civil War[edit]

A couple of points, if I may, in no particular order:
1) I notice the topic of the American Civil War seems to emphasize desertion by troops from Georgia. States closer to major fighting (ex: TN, NC...) had higher desertion rates, from what I understand (will have to research that). Point is, the Wiki article sounds a bit bias against Georgia. ??
2) The North suffered from the exact same problem, in probably the same numbers proportionally (though they had the advantage of many more new recruits). But the article doesn't mention that.
3) Confederate forces had the phenomenon of "plough furloughs" whereby soldiers would depart without leave to plant or harvest. I suppose thats "awol" rather than "desertion", but might be worth mentioning as a comparison. The Army generally turned a blind eye if the soldier returned when his own commander wrote asking him to return.
4) I've seen a source somewhere estimating that at wars end, well over 200,000 Confederates had permanently deserted through the course of the war. That is a little known but very significant impact on the south's ability to continue the war. Engr105th 19:54, 10 June 2007 (UTC)

I noticed the Wiki link to Artur Muntz is no longer active. The article on him was approved for deletion, based on non-notability and lack of resourced information. Should the blurb about him be delected from this article too? There doesn't seem to be anything solid on his desertion/execution. Engr105th (talk) 09:47, 26 February 2008 (UTC)

Vietnam War?[edit]

It seems to be there's something missing from this page - it mentions desertion in WWII and the Iraq War, but doesn't have a section about the Vietnam War, when I would have thought desertion might have been quite common. Does anyone know if this was the case? Or did opponents to the Vietnam War simply dodge the draft altogether instead? Terraxos (talk) 02:29, 16 July 2008 (UTC) And what about the war in Iraq? there are news about "new high in suicidal rates". I know, there are deserters here in germany, because we germans were against the war, generally spoken. Thank you kindly, not only for bringing up infos about vietnam, but also about iraq! —Preceding unsigned comment added by 94.218.246.95 (talk) 09:07, 18 March 2009 (UTC)

I agree. I would expect a distinction would be made between avoiding service and desertion in the face of the enemy. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 67.170.137.158 (talk) 05:58, 30 July 2012 (UTC)

What is it called...[edit]

when a soldier disobeys commands? 76.16.191.46 (talk) 04:45, 25 July 2008 (UTC)

Insubordination --Lennier1 (talk) 13:43, 1 February 2009 (UTC)

Disobeying a lawful order —Preceding unsigned comment added by 71.212.90.174 (talk) 17:10, 10 September 2009 (UTC)

Is it a mistake?[edit]

I do not understand the sentence: "Desertion was not especially common in 1814, when enlistment bonuses were increased from $16 to $124, inducing many men to desert one unit and enlist in another to get two bonuses." Should not it be "Desertion was especially common in 1814..."? (Delete "not".) —Preceding unsigned comment added by 132.66.40.82 (talk) 09:21, 25 November 2008 (UTC)

US Deserters Were Executed in the Philippine Insurrection[edit]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Fagen#cite_note-white-1 ^ a b Bowers, William T. "Black Soldier, White Army", 1997. p. 12 Thus I am removing the part that Eddie Slovik was the first US deserter executed since the Civil War.

history[edit]

As long as there have been the organization of men into armies, there has been desertion. Why does this article start at its earliest the war of 1812? Don't cite wikipedia policy of "fix it", I don't care to. Just bringing up that it reflects poorly on the article, as if desertion is a modern phenomenom of human behavior.

justification[edit]

Much of the introductory paragraph was devoted to discussion of the moral justification for desertion rather than being a concise description of desertion. This material was moved into its own section.--Srich32977 (talk) 15:11, 9 April 2010 (UTC)

War of 1812[edit]

My ancestor, 1815 Mobile, Alabama, 3rd U.S. Infantry, Col. Gilbert Christian Russell, Sr. (for whom Russell County, Alabama is named), 1782-1861 (see 'Find-a-Grave', Magnolia Cemetery, Mobile, for his picture and grave's picture) is the "Col. Russell" mentioned in the "Six Coffins" anti-President Jackson posters (six versions in National Archives). Col. Russell executed by musketry, the "six Tennessee militiamen" (one actually from Kentucky). Ensign Russell, 1803, had been appointed to 2nd U.S. Infantry from Tenn. (and as a Capt of the 7th 1808 or Maj. of the 5th 1809, was C.O. of Ft. Pickering, Memphis, when he tried to save the life of his friend Capt. Meriwether Lewis). I mention this simply to indicate Russell may have been on personal terms with the more than hundred Tenn. enlisted, and their officers involved.

The 100-plus Tenn. militiamen under their officers--and their officers; wanted to return home after the expiration of obligation to remain ceased in their individual contracts. There was also the issue had that contract to serve (only?) as TENNESSEE MILITIAMEN, been breached by service out of state? However I do not recall that defense raised in their courts martial. The Tenn. militiamen's officers, several times; tried to talk with Gen. Jackson about that their legal obligation to remain ceased, with the expiration of their contracts. Jackson, who was confronted by an impending battle; refused to meet with the Tenn. militia officers several times, the men acting through their (democratically elected?) officers.

None in of the Tenn. officer leadership were executed; just six enlisted examples. Jackson needed the 100-plus other Tenn. would-be 'deserters'; alive to fight in the impending battle. That the officers seemed to be men of economic, social, political, and military higher stature standings, in their Tenn. communities; might explain why, Jackson-like: 'the head of the snake was not cut off', rather just the examples of enlisted tail nipped; the bulk of that 'body', it's men would soon be needed?

I've read the courts martial transcript (National Archives), except for about six difficult to read pages. The men's sole defense seems to be, that within-the-four-corners of their contracts, their legal obligation to remain; ceased with the expiration of those contracts. Within-the-four-corners of the recorded courts martial per se; the Army did not cite statute law to the contrary, the contracts as such to the contrary, U.S. or earlier Crown military traditions, or impending military necessity. Silence!

If military necessity of the impending battle in which Jackson needed more men than he had, seems a legitimate reason, both practically and legally; why was it not used in the courts martial?

Yes, after the dead men could not defend themselves, and the resulting civilian public hew-and-cry; the Army bureaucratically added all sorts of post-executions justifications into the record the Army controlled. Had the died men been able to confront these belated Army justifications alive at the time of their trial, had the Army raised them then; would such then, have been legally valid?

Even though such may long be valid now: 1. was there then anything within-the-four-corners of the militiamens (original Tenn, or superseding U.S.?) explicit contracts permitting the inplicit involuntary extension of the mens/officers contracts; 2. was there then existing Tenn. and/or U.S. statute law, permitting their involuntary implicit extensions of their contractual obligation to remain despite the original explicit contracts wording; 3. (in effect common law) did prior Tenn. or U.S. military tradition permit such; if earlier British military Crown law traditions permitted such, was that earlier law still, Constitutionally and post Declaration of Independence, still valid in the U.S.; lastly, did obvious impending military necessity permit such involuntary extension of those contracts?

If immediate, or soon; impending military necessity legally justified the involuntary contract extensions; why was that issue not raised by the Army at the time of the men's courts martial per se?

If valid legally, the reason military necessity may not have been raised by Jackson, might have existed in Gen. Jackson's character and ego? As a Technician, Jackson could make good nit-picking legal arguments; had as a General, Jackson chosen to. But if the Technician Jackson's law was not on the General's side, such as invading British East Florida and hanging people; action-Jackson Generally, just did it; those he could make examples of for not bending to his practical pragmatic, End-Justifies-The-Means Will; and the law--be dammed.

In contrast, in the Battle of New Orleans arena; for local opponent, Louisiana militia officer Duncan (spelling?), of local high economic and social standing; (politically) skilled legal argument was Jackson's weapon of choice. ∞ focusoninfinity 20:20, 22 August 2011 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Focusoninfinity (talkcontribs)

Desertion#World_War_II[edit]

Much of this section is, at best, dubious and unsourced. Some of it may be a hoax. Can somebody fix this? Bearian (talk) 00:31, 19 July 2012 (UTC)

Can you elaborate a little? My cursory inspection shows nothing implausible and every statement appears to have a supporting cite. --Yaush (talk) 14:31, 19 July 2012 (UTC)

How many Soviets deserted in Aghanistan? A dozen? Two dozen?[edit]

What fool wrote the section on the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan? Pathetic. Why does Wiki let these people edit articles?

Grammar[edit]

Regarding (or better yet: With regard to) this edit summary, actually it was a grammar checker I used many years ago that would alter all my -ing verbs either to the infinitive or something else. It called the usage of -ing verbs "passive" and "weak", so I've tried to obliterate them from my own usage. And often when I come across their usage on Wikipedia, I feel it improves the encyclopedia to decrease the usage of passive verbs; it makes Wikipedia stronger. No big deal; do as you like. – Paine Ellsworth CLIMAX! 20:26, 15 July 2013 (UTC)

I agree completely that the passive voice makes for poor writing in most instances. What happened here did not have to do with the passive voice. Concise and understandable, there is nothing "weak" about it. For example, changing "cartoon depicting Jesus facing a firing squad" to "cartoon that depicts Jesus who faces a firing squad" only adds verbosity without improving clarity. __ Just plain Bill (talk) 03:27, 16 July 2013 (UTC)

Section on "Afgan civil war"[edit]

Isn't this typically referred to as the Soviet war in Afghanistan? --SVTCobra (talk) 17:47, 8 July 2014 (UTC)

Australia[edit]

I think it is worth while including a section about Australia as it was to my knowledge the only country in World War 1 that didn't use execution for Desertion. Although it was legal it was never carried out. http://www.awm.gov.au/encyclopedia/desertion/

Wonx2150 (talk) 17:59, 20 August 2014 (UTC)