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Supporting Materials for Sir! No Sir!

Desertion Rates Soar

Desertion rates for the Army and Marines have shown a startling (it's not really startling, due to the circumstaances; drastic might be a better word) increase over the last three to four years.

Pentagon figures show that in the 1967 fical year some 27,000 men deserted the Army. The number increased to 39,234 in the 1968 fiscal year, 56,608 in the 1969 fiscal year, and 65,643 in the 1970 fiscal year which ended last June 30. The Marine Corps rate over the same period increased nearly 21/2 times from 6,654 in the 1967 fiscal year to over 16,100 in 1970.

This "referendum on the war" has really pissed the Pentagon off. A directive, issued around last Sept. 14, from Deputy Secretary of Defense David M. Packard outlined for the first time a uniform policy for all the services to follow in dealing with deserters and AWOLs.

The directive calls for establishment of a Deserter Information Point to act as a central processing agency in each of the services "for the control, hunting, and dissemination of information" on absentees. It also calls for an increase in the present $25 award for help in arresting deserters. Information on all deserters will be fed to the FBIs national Crime Information Center computer for help in making arrests.

Not surprisingly, military officials lay the blame on the Vietnam War. "Most of those who go AWOL do so right after getting their Vietnam orders," said one official.

There's the brass again, getting right at the heart of the problem. So many GIs choose flight rather than fight because they know that if there is any purpose, excuse, or justification for war, it is to lay one's life on the line for soomething that one holds sacred and dear.

A Four Year Bummer, vol. 2, no. 9


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