oversight

Millions Being Spent To Apprehend Military Deserters, Most of Whom Are Discharged as Unqualified for Retention

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1977-01-31.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

                         DOCUMENT RESUME
00553 - [107511261

Millions Being Spent to Apprehend Military Deserters, Most of
Whom Are Discharged as Unqualified for Retention. FPCD-77-16;
B-146890. January 31, 1977. 23 pp.
Report to Secretary, Department of Defense; ky H. L. Krieger,
Director, Federal Personnel and Compensation Div.

Issue Area: Personnel Management and Compensation (300).
Contact: Federal Personnel and Coapensation Div.
Budget Function: National Defense: Department of Defense -
    Military (except procurement & contracts) (051).
Congressional Relevance: House Committee on Armed Services;
    Senate Committee on Armed Services.
Authority: 10 U.S.C. 885-87; Unifram Code of Military Justice,
    art. 85-87.

         The policy of apprehending military deserters during
peacetime in an all volunteer force needs reexamining. Military
representatives say treating deserters as criminals has a
deterring effect. Findings/Conclusions: Most deserters do not
become useful soldiers, being unable or unwilling to meet the
standards demanded, and most are eventually discharged as unfit.
There is no verifiable evidence that soldiers whc do not desert
are discouraged from doing so because of fear of becoming a
military criminal. Such fear may prevent some potential
deserters, but many others may consider the possible discharge
to be a reward rather than a punishment. The services have the
authority to separate deserters in absentia. The number of
deserters, meaning individuals whc were absent without leave,
more than 30 days, declined in FY76. It cost $58 million to
apprehend and process deserters during the last 2 years, not
including costs incurred for related courts-martial,
confinement, separation, and pay of the deserters. Costs are
being incurred to apprehend individu, ; who surrender
voluntarily. Recommendations: The deserters apprehension policy
should be reexamined and less costly alternatives to the present
practices should be found. Perhaps the apprehension of deserters
should be stopped, except where the deserter is wanted in
connection with another crime, and the deserter should be
discharged in absentia; or perhaps apprehension efforts should
not be undertaken until the deserter has been gone long enough
to indicate that a voluntary return in not likely. (Author/SS)
     :'-3

:)




                           UNITED STATES
            I
                \
                t
                    ''""   GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE




                           Millions Being Spent To
                           Apprehend Military Deserters
                           Most Of Whom Are Discharged As
                           Unqualified For Retention
                           Department of Defense


                           In 1975 and 1976 the military classified as
                           deserters about 84,000 people who were
                           absent from duty t)r more than 30 days. It
                           spent almost $58 million to apprehend arid
                           process these individuals only to discharge
                           most of them as unqualified for retention, in
                           many cases shortly after their return.


                           The Secretary of Defense should reconsider
                           the military's policies of apprehending desert-
                           ers. In this report GAO suggests two less
                           expensive alternatives.




                           F PCD-77-16                                       J x1,\i. '31 1   977
  ~s(" M
       "UNITED              STAl ES GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE
                              WASHINGTON, D.C.   20548


FEDERAL PERSONNEL AND
COMPENSATION DIVISIOI



      B-146890



      The Honorable
      The Secretary of Defense

      Dear Mr. Secretary:
           This report summarizes the cost of apprehending de-
      serters and their success upon return to the military. It
      suggests two less expensive alternatives to the current
      policy of apprehending deserters. This report is an cut-
      growth of a review se are making of unauthorized abhence.
      The contents of this report were discussed with represent-
      atives of the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Army,
      Navy, and Marine Corps.

           Our recommendations to you are scc forth on page 15. As
      you know, section 236 of the Legislative Reorgani,'ation Act
      of 1970 requires the head of a Federal agency to submit a
      written statement on actions taken on our recommendations to
      the House and Senate Committees on Government Operations not
      later than 60 days after the date of the report and to the
      House and Senate Committees on Appropriations with the
      agency's first request for appropriations made more than 60
      days after the date of the report.

           Copies of this report are being sent to the Director,
      Office of Management and Budget; the Chairmen, House and
      Senate Committees on Appropriations, Armed Services, and
      Covernment Operations; the Secretaries of the Army, Navy,
      and Air Force, and the Assistant Secretary of Defense
      (Comptroller).
                                           Sincerely yours,




                                           H. L. Krieger
                                           Director
                             Contents


                                                         Page
 DIGEST                                                    i
 CHAPTER

       I   INTRODUCTION                                   1
      2    LENGTH OF ABSENCES                             4
      3    COST TO APPREHEND DESERTEAR                    5
               Payments to local law enforcement
                 authorities                              5
               Costs FBI incurred                         6
               Military escort cost                       6
               Processing costs after return              7
      4    SUCCESS OF DESERTERS AFTER RETURNING           9
             TO DUTY
               Alternatives for dealing with deserters   13
      5    CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS               15
               Conclusions                               15
               Recommendations                           15
      6    SCOPE OF REVIEW                               17


APPENDIX
      I    Unauthorized absence as defined in law        19
     II    Our sample of urauchorized absence
             incidents terminated during the 12-month
             period ended March 31, 1975                 21

                          ABBREVIATIONS
AWOL       absence without leave
DOD        Department of Defense

FBI        Federal Bureau of Investigation
GAO        General Accounting Office

UA         unauthorized cbsence
  GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE                 MILLIONS BEING SPENT TO
  REPORT TO THE                             APPREHEND MILITARY DESERTERS
  SECRETARY OF DEFENSE                      MOST OF WHOM ARE DISCHARGED
                                            AS UNQUALIFIED FOR RETENTION
                                            Department of Defense

             DIGEST

            The policy of apprehending military deserters
            during peacetime in an all volunteer force
            needs reexamining.

            Military representatives say treating deserters
            as criminals has a deterring effect because it
            discourages some from becoming repeaters and
            others from first offenses. However, GAO found
            that:

                   -- Most deserters do not become useful sol-
                      diers. They are unable or unwilling to
                      meet the standards demanded of a profes-
                      sional.  Most are discharged eventually
                      for this reason. (See p. 9.)

                   -- There is no verifiable evidence that sol-
                      diers who do not desert are discouraged
                      from doing so because of fear of becoming a
                      military criminal. Fear of arrest and pun-
                      ishment may discourage some from deserting.
                      Others may view discharge, a penalty fre-
                      quently used in desertion cases, more as
                      reward than punishment. The services have
                      the authority to separate deserters in ab-
                      sentia.
            As used in this report, desertion means that the
            individual has been absent without leave for more
            than 30 days. Desertions declined in fiscal year
            1976 but numbered over 36,000.  It cost $58 mil-
            lion to apprehend and process deserters during
            the last 2 years, GAO estimates. This estimate
            does not include the costs incurred for related
            courts-martial, confinement, separation, and pay of
            the deserters.   (See p. 5.)
            Costs are being incurred to apprehend individuals
            who surrender voluntarily. Apprehension efforts
            begin as soon as an individual is classified a
            deserter.  It makes little sense to incur such
            costs when the "penalty" upon return is fre-

                                        i           FPCD-77-16
Tear Shef.   Upon removal, the report
cover date should be noted hereon.
quently dischargc   and many deserters return volun-
tar ily.

GAO recommends that the Secretary of Defense
reexamine this policy and find less costly
alternatives to present practices.  He could
consider among others:

-- Stopping the apprehension of deserters
   except when the individual is wanted for
   some specific reason, such as another crime
   or security matter, and discharge them in
   absentia after they have been absent for a
   stipulated period.

-- Not routinely undertaking aggressive ap-
   prehension efforts until an individual
   has been gone lcng enough to indicate that
   a voluntary return is improbable.
   (See pp. 15 and 16.)

The report is an outgrowth of a current GAO study
dealing with unauthorized absence being conducted
in the contex:t of how the services discharge their
responsibilities in dealing with this crime.




                        ii
                           CHAPTER 1

                           INTRODUCTION

     Desertion is one form of unauthorized absence from the
military.  Articles 85, 86, and 87 of the Uniform Code of
Military Justice define unauthorized absence as a crime.
(See app. I.)  Initially, each unauthorized absence is clas-
sified as absence without leave (AWOL).  When individuals
are AWOL for 30 days, or in certain circumstances less than
30 days, the military administratively classifies them as
deserters.  Legally, a person is not a deserter until
charged with the crime of desertion and found guilty.

     Unauthorized absence is a crime unique to the military
and can entail severe punishments.  During peacetime, AWOL
for mort than 30 days can be punished with up to l--year im-
prisonment and a dishonorable discharge.  Those found guilty
of desertion can be puni hed with up to 5-years imprisonment
and a dishonorable discharge.  Penalties are even more se-
vere during wartime.  They were not changed when e.listment
in the services became voluntary in 1973.

      Unauthorized absence is a frequent crime.  According to
military records, unauthorized absences of 24 hours or more
occurred 304,204 times in the 24-month period endeJ June 30,
1976.   Included in this figure are 84,335 desertions.

                     Number of
     Fiscal         unauthorized          Number of
      year            absences            desertions

     1975             168,773               47,997
     1976             135,431               36,338


            Total     304,204               34,335


     Why is unauthorized absence a crime? While this was
not explained in any military publication, service repre-
sentatives we talked to generally stated that it was built
around the concept of punishment and the purposes were two-
fold--to discourage some from becoming repeaters and to
keep others from committing first offenses.




                                1
One researcher 1/ provided the       following rationale:

     "When military organizations are established, the
     first requisite of their functioning at all is that
     they have personnel.  And it is essential to the
     accomplishment of their mission that those personnel
     not only be assigned, but that they also actually be
     where they are supposed to be at the time they are
     supposed to be there.  If each member of a military
     organization decided for himself where he would be
     and when, any attempt to carry on any of the organi-
     zation's functions must invariably breakdown from the
     ensuing chaos.  If each member came and went as he
     pleased, no one could rely on the performance by any-
     one else of his duties, and the first essentials of
     organization could not be carried on.   To deter per-
     sonnel from abardoning their duties,  absence  there-
     from without authority is an offense, for without
     such a deterrent, the strength of such organizations
     must inevitably disintegrate and disappear.    Hence
     the law requires every  member of a military  organi-
     zation to be where he is supposed to be at the time
     he is supposed to be there."

     This report presents our findings on the cost of appre-
hending deserters and their success after returning to duty.
It is an outgrowth of our ongoing study dealing with unauth-
orized absence.  The study is being conducted in the context
of how the services discharge their responsibilities in
dealing with this crime. The primary issues the study is
addressing are:

     -- Education of military people concerning AWOL and its
        seriousness.

     -- Adequacy and accuracy of statistical and managerial
        data.

     -- Cost to the military both in dollars and mission
        effectiveness.

     -- Impact on the military career and civilian lives of
        individuals who go AWOL.

     -- Demographics of people who go AWOL.

     -- Counseling of people upon return.



1/Alfred, Alvin, The Law of AWOL, (New York: Oceana,        1957).
                                 2
-- Consistency of punishments imposed.

--Performance after returning to duty.




                         3
                               CHAPTER 2

                         LENGTH OF ABSENCES
     The military does not compile data showing the length
of time deserters are absent or whether they voluntarily re-
turn or are apprehended. However, the length of time deser-
ters (as classified by the military) are absent is recorded
in payroll and personnel records. Our analysis of absences
over 30 days (absences during the 12-month period ended March
31, 1975, for Army, Marine Corps, and Navy and June 30, 1975,
for the Air Force) showed that over one-half voluntarily re-
turned or were apprehended within 90 days.

                        Length of Absences

             31 to 60   61 to 90       91 to 180   Over 180     Total

             ------------------- (days)---------------

Army            5,706     3,296         4,974      4,545        18,521
Marine
  Corps         4,551     2,12',        3,712      4,007        14,396
Navy            3,185     1,084         1,168        445       a/5,882
Air
  Force           370       195           232        118           915

     Total     13,812     6,701        10,086      9,115      a/39,714
Percent of
  total          34.8      16.9          25.4       22.9         100.0

a/These figures do not include an estimated 4,300 individuals
  for whom we could not determine length of absence.

     Many deserters voluntarily surrender. Our analysis of
1975 data at one Army installation responsible for the
apprehension of deserters in a two-State area showed that
over one-half voluntarily surrendered. Of the 911 deserters
returning, 487 (54 percent) surrendered either to military
or civilian authorities.




                                   4
                          CHAPTER 3

                 COST TO APPREHEND DESERTERS

     We estimate that the four services and the Federal
Bureau of Investigation (FBI) spent $58 million in fiscal
years 1975-76 to apprehend and process actions against de-
serters. In fiscal year 1976, $27.5 million was spent in
contrast to $30 million in fiscal year 1975. This decrease
was due to a decline in the number of desertions. These
estimates do not include the costs incurred for related
courts-martial, confinement, separation, and pay 1/ of the
deserters.

     The military does not accumulate cost data relating to
the apprehension of deserters. Hence, we requested data
necessary to construct cost estimates from the Army, Marine
Corps, and FBI. The breakdown for the 1975 estimate is shown
below and explained in the following sections.

                                         Estimate

                                        (millions)
Local law authorities                     $    .4
FBI                                           5.9
Escort to military facilities:
    Military guard travel                   1.4
    Military guard salaries                 4.2
Processing after return                    18.1
   Total                                  $30.0

PAYMENTS TO LOCAL LAW
ENFORCEMENT AUTHORITIES

     State and local law enforcement authorities in an
individual's home area are advised that he is wanted when
the military administratively declares him a deserter. The
Department of Defense (DOD), by Directive 1325.2, authorizes
payment to persons or agencies for apprehending, detaining,
or delivering absentees and deserters to the military. A
reward of $15 is a thorized for apprehending and detaining
an individual until military authorities arrive or $25 for



1/From the date returned to the military until returntd to
  duty or discharged.

                                 5
apprehending and delivering an individual to the military.
Agencies that are prohibited by local laws or regulations
from accepting rewards may be reimbursed for actual expenses
up to $25 per case.
     Each of tne military services routinely records the
amount of these payments in a single account. Our analysis
showed that 65 percent of those returned at one Army instal-
lation for unauthorized absence were deserters. Applying
the 65-percent factor to the total payments of $634,536
recorded for all the services in fiscal year 1975, we esti-
mate that the payments relating to deserters were $412,448.
COSTS FBI IMCURRED

     When a deserter has been absent about 60 days, the mil-
itary is supposed to notify the FBI which then opens a case
file on the individual. According to the FBI, a great num-
ber of desertion cases are resolved by the military within
60 days. When the individual returns to the military, by
whatever means, the case is closed.
     In response to our request, the FBI stated that it had
closed 34,674 cases in fiscal year 1975 at an estimated cost
of 5.9 million.

MILITARY ESCORT COSTS

     When the FBI, State, or local law enforcement agencies
apprehend deserters, the military sends guards to escort
them back or have the individual return unescorted to a de-
signated military facility. Costs for travel and guard
salaries were estimated as follows.

Travel costs

     Each military service routinely records guard travel
costs in a single account. By applying the above 65-percent
factor to the total of this amount for fiscal year 1975,
we estimated travel costs relating to deserters were
$1.4 million.

Guard salaries and related costs

     The Army assigns guards on a full-time basis to escort
deserters and other absentees from civilian detainment fa-
cilities to military facilities. The other services assign
guards part-time. They also allow individuals to return
unescorted when the commander believes the individual
can be trusted to do so. Guard costs for deserters are not
compiled by any of the services.
                              6
     We requested that the Army provide us with the number
and average grade of persons assigned in fiscal year 1975
to apprehend deserters and other absentees. We also re-
quested related operation and maintenance costs. The Army
told us that staffing of the 41 activities involved consists
of 14 officers with an average grade of 0-3, 385 enlisted
persons with an average grade of E-5, and 2 GS-4 civilians.
The operation and maintenance costs were reported to be
$403,300. Using the Army's schedule, Composite Standard
Rates for Costing Military Personnel Services effective Jan-
uary 1, 1975, we estimate salary cost of guards and admini-
strative staff to be $3.9 million. Total cost for desertion
and absentee apprehension, therefore, is about $4.3 million.
We allocated $2.8 million to desertion based on the 65-
percent factor.

     A Marine Corps representative said that the 25 activi-
ties involved in apprehending deserters in fiscal year 1975
expended an estimated 12 officer-years at an average grade
of 0-2 and 77 enlisted-years at an average grade of E-4.
Using the Marine Corps' schedule, Composite Standard Rates
for Costing Military Personnel Services effective January
1, 1975, we estimated salary cost of guards to be $807,000,
or an average of $48 per deserter apprehended. (An estimate
of related operation and maintance costs was not provided.)

      Using the average cost to apprehend Marine Corps deser-
ters, we estimate the cost of the Air Force and Navy guards
to be $548,000 for the 11,407 deserters apprehended. The
total cost of military personnel assigned to deserters in
the four services is, therefore, estimated to be $4.2 mil-
lion.

PROCESSING COSTS
AFTER RETURN

     When a deserter is returned to the military, several
actions are required, including:

     -- Filling out necessary forms to show a return-to-duty
        status for the individual.

     -- Obtaining the individual's personnel file from the
        service's deserter information point.

     -- Providing the individual with legal counsel.

     -- Determing what action should be taken against the
        individual. Several alternatives are available:
        no action, nonjudicial punishment, administrative
        discharge, and court-martial.
                              7
     The Air Force and Marine Corps return deserters to
their assigned unit for processing. The Navy returns a
deserter to the confinement facility nearest the location
wnere the individual was apprehended or surrendered. The
Army has established special units--called personnel control
facilities--to process deserters. Although AWOL people from
another location may be processed through a personnel con-
trol facility, it is used primarily to process deserters
apprehended in its assigned geographical area.

     At our request, the Army developed cost data for oper-
ating their 12 personnel control facilities and the number
of deserters processed at these facilities. The Army's
response showed operational costs to be $11.9 million for
processing 21,190 deserters and 5,757 people for AWOL.
Using a factor of 79 percent (the percentage of deserters to
total individuals processed), we allocated $9.4 million of
the Army's cost to processing deserters.

     The average cost to process a deserter varied among the
Army commands. The lowest average cost was $310 per de-
serter. Applying the $310 to the 28,125 deserters processed
by the other 7 services, we estimate their cost to be $8.7
million.  (This estimate does not include any adjustment for
cost that would normally be incurred regardless of the de-
serters processed.) We estimate the total cost for proces-
sing deserters is, therefore, $18.1 million ($9.4 plus $8.7
rillion).




                             8
                         CHAPTER 4
                   SUCCESS OF DESERTERS

                  AFTER RETURNING TO DUTY
     Few deserters become successful soldiers. We used the
military's judgment to measure success after return. This
judgment is shown in the reason recorded for separation.

     Our study group of 1,405 Army, Navy, and Marine Corps
people absent more than 30 days was randomly selected from
those returning during the 12-month period ended March 31,
1975. We reviewed their personnel files during the period
February through September 1976 to determine their status.
A review of Air Force deserters is still in process.
(See ch. 6.)

     DOD Directive 1332.14 states that the military has the
right and duty to separate those people who clearly demon-
strgte they are unqualified for retention. To date, as
shown below, 1,123 (80 percent) of the 1,405 deserters in
our study group were not successful upon their return; the
military judged them to be unqualified for retention and
they were separated.

     -- 503 (36 percent) were immediately separated for the
        good of the service, at their request, in lieu of
        court-martial.

     -- 42 (3 percent) were separated by court-martial
        without returning to duty.

     -- 175 (12 percent) were returned to duty and later
        separated by court-martial or in lieu of court-
        martial for later offenses.

     -- 403 (29 percent) were returned to duty and later
        discharged for reasons indicating that they were
        not successful.

     Of the remaining 282 (20 percent), 50 had not been
discharged but were again in an unauthorized absence status.
Further details of our analyses are shown in the following
chart.
                                          Immediately separated as unsuccessful
                                                                                                          Not returned to duty--separated by court-martial
                                                                      Marine
                                         Basis        Arm      Navy    Cores    Total                                                                                Marine
                                                                                                          Tyeofcourt-martial                         Army     Navy    Cores    Total
                                     In lieu of
                                     court-martial    239      128        136    503
                                                      ---             .          .___                     Special                                     5        12       18      35
GAO Study Group                                                                                           General                                     2         1        4       7
(randomly selected)
                                                                                                              _   _   _   _   _   _   _   _To'tal     7        13       22      42

Army            448
                                                                                                            Returned to duty--later separated as unsuccessful
Navy            580                                                                                                                           Marine
Marine Corps    377                                                                                       Basis                                     Arm_    Navy     Corps    Total
       Total   1,405                                                                                      By court-martial                              3      5       27       35
                                                                                                          In lieu of court-martial                    74      25       41      140
                                    Alternatives used in dealing with de-                                 Misconduct                                    7     10       11       28
                                    serters not immediately separated                                     Unfitness                                   15      45       21       81
                                                                                                          Unsuitability                               31     175       14      220
                                                                      Marine                              Substandard performance                     17      48        0       65
                                                      Army     Navy   Corps     Total                     Other                                        1     --1        7      __9
                             Nonjudicial action        55      142         56    253                          Total                                  148     309      121      578
                             Trial by court-martial                                          v   .-                                                           -
                                Summary                23       35       19       77
                                Special                58      220      100      378                          Returned to duty--later separated as successful
                                General                 2        3        4        9
                             Other (note a)            71       52       62      185                                                                                 Marine
                                                                      .......                    _Reaso                   _                          Arm    y Navy    qorEs   Total
                                 Total                209      452      241      902
                                                                                -glm    or                End of enlistment                            2       7        2       11
                                                                                                          Medical                                      2      10        9       21
                                                                                                          Other                                        1       3        6       10
                                                                                                              Total                                    5      20       17       42

                                                                                                                  Returned to duty--not separated

                                                                                                                                                                     Marine
a/Includes instances where no action was taken, action may                                            Status at time of review Armx                          Navy    CorEs    Total
  have been taken but was not recorded in personnel records,
  action was not dirtc; ly related to the incident (i.e.,                                                 Active duty                                 39      78       33     150
  finalization of administrative or punitive discharge i                                                  Active duty, but on
  process at time of the incident), and action may have been                                                unauthorized absence                       4      19       27       50
  delayed pending return from subsequent absence.                                                         Reserves                                     6      13       21       40
                                                                                                              Total                                   49     110       81     240
 ALTERNATIVES FOR DEALING WITH   DESERTERS

      The alternatives available to a commander
                                                 in dealing
 with deserters range from no punishment
                                          lo referral of the
 case to a general court-martial which
                                        has authority to im-
 pose the maximum sentence authorized
                                       for the offense.  A
 description of these alternatives and
                                        the freauency of use
 ror our study group of 1,405 follows.

                                        Number of    Percent
            Alternatives used             times     of total
Separation for the good of the ser-
vice in lieu of court-martial.   It
can be approved by the discharge
authority when an individual submits
a resignation or request for discharge
and is involved in conduct triable by
court-martial for an offense punish-
able by a bad conduct or dishon--able
discharge.
                                             503        35.8
Nonjudicial punishment.  The forms of
punishment authorized include admoni-
tion cL reprimand, reduction in rank,
and detention of one-half month's pay
per month for 3 months.                      253        18.0
Summary court-martial. The most se-
vere punishments authorized are re-
duction in rank, confinement for 1
month, and forfeiture of two-thirds
pay for 1 month.                              77         5.5
Special court-martial. The most
severe punishments authorized are
reduction in rank, confinement for
6 months, forfeiture of two-thirds
pay for 6 months, and a bad-conduct
discharge. However, the punishment
imposed cannot exceed the maximum
authorized for the offense.                  378        26.9
General court-martial. Any pun-
ishment authorized for.the of-
fense can be imposed, including
a dishonorable discharge.                      9          .6
Other                                        185        13.2
    Total                                1,405         ;00.0
                                13
     As shown above, the most frequently used alternative is
the administrative discharge for the good of the service, at
the individual's request, in lieu of court-martial, and ho~
least used was referral of the case to a general court-mar-
tial where the maximum punishment could be imposed.

     An unused alternative is separation of a deserter in
absentia. DOD Directive 1332.14 states it may be imposed
when the discharge authority determines it will serve the
national interest. The dischaqge authority must attempt
                                      t discharge action and
to notify the deserter of the imirerknt
the effective date by registered  c~ Mrtified   mail.   If the
deserter cannot be located or aca     t respond  within  a rea-
sonable time, an administrative discnarge board can separate
the person in absentia.




                              14
                            CHAPTER 5

                  CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

CONCLUSIONS

     The military spends millions of dollars annually to
apprehend and process deserters.  Military representatives
said that treating desertion as a crime had a deterrent
effect by discouraging some from becoming repeaters and
others from first offenses.

     Tne asserted deterrent effect on the deserter seems to
serve little purpose because most deserters do not become
successful soldiers.  A large majority are separated, in many
cases shortly after their return, because they are unable
                                                          or
unwilling to meet the standards demanded of professional
soldiers in an all volunteer force.

      We found no empirical evidence dealing with the deterrent
effect on soldiers who do not desert.   Subjectively, fear of
apprehension, punishment, and accompanying disgrace would
seem to discourage some from deserting.   Conversely, others
mayt view discharge, a penalty frequently used, more as
                                                        a re-
ward than a punishment.

      Costs are being incurred to apprehend individuals who
voluntarily surrender.   Such efforts begin as soon as an
individual is administratively classified as a deserter,
usually after being absent from duty for 30 days.   A test
at one station showed that 54 percent of such individuals
surrendered.   It may not be necessary, therefore, to begin
apprehension efforts until voluntary surrender is less
                                                        prob-
able.   It makes little sense to incur the cost of apprehend-
ing deserters only to separate them, particularly when
                                                        many
avoid apprehension by returning voluntarily.

RECOMMENDATIONS

     We recommend that the SeLretary of Defense reexam-
ine DOD's policies and find less costly alternatives to
                                                        the
present practice of apprehending deserters during peacetime
in an all volunteer force.  He could consider among others:

    -- Stopping the apprehension of deserters except when
       the individual is wanted for some specific purpose,
       such as another crime or security matter, and dis-
       charge them in absentia after they have been absent
       for a stipulated period.



                               15
                         CHAPTER 6

                     SCOPE OF REVIEW

      The objectives of this segment of our overall review of
unauthorized absence in the military services were to
determine the (1) cost of apprehending deserters and
(2) extent that deserters were successful on return to
duty.   We had discussions with representatives of the Of-
fice of the Secretary of Defense, the headquarters of each
service, and various field activities.   Cost data was ob-
tained from the FBI and from the accounting records at the
headquarters of each service and from information the Army
developed.   Certain demographic information on military
people invloved in unauthorized absence was selected
from personnel records.   Provisions of the Uniform Code
of Military Justice were also considered.

     Discussions with representatives of each service revealed
that the Army's apprehension effort was best organized for
determining apprehension and related costs.  We visited the
U.S. Army Field Artillery Center and Fort Sill, Fort Sill,
Oklahoma to:

     1. Obtain a better understanding of the Army operation
        and costs.

     2. Satisfy ourselves on the processes involved   in
        apprehending deserters.

     3. Obtain information on the means of apprehension.

The Fort Sill base is one of the 12 Army bases reponsible for
apprehending deserters and determining what action should be
taken against them.

     A key factor in our analysis was selecting a representa-
tive group of people involved in unauthorized absence from each
service.  The following service activities provided computer
tapes identifying individuals involved ir unauthorized absence
during the 12-month period ended March 31, 1975, except the
Air Force which used the 12-month period ended June 30, 1975.

     -- U.S. Air Force Military Personnel Center,
        Randolph Ai, Force Base, Texas.

     --U.S. Army Military Personnel Center,
       Alexandria, Virginia.

     --U.S. Marine Corps Manpower Management
       Information Systems Branch,
       Washington, D.C.
                              i7
     -- U.S. Navy Finance Center,
        Cleveland, Ohio.
     From this d ta, we took a stratified random sample.
The sample groups and sizes are shown in appendix II.

     We reviewed the personnel files of the individuals in-
cluied in our sample to obtain the punishment imposed and the
type and reason for discnarge if separated from the military.
The personnel f 4 ees were reviewed in the sequence selected for
sampling. Although we have not reviewed the files of all the
individuals in the overall sample, the number reviewed is suffi-
cient to represent the situation in each service for the is-
sues addressed in this report. This work was done at the
following locations:
     -- Military Personnel Records Center (for separated
        personnel), St. Louis, Missouri.

     --U.S. Army:
           Enlisted Record and Evaluation Center,
           Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indiana.

           Reserve Component Personnel and Administration
           Center, St. Louis, Missouri.

     -- U.S. Navy:
            Bureau of Naval Personnel, Enlisted Service and
            Record Division, Arlington, Virginia.

     --U.S. Marine Corps:
           Manpower, Personnel Service Division,
           Arlington, Virginia.

          Automated Services Center, Reserve Forces
          Administration Activities, Kansas City, Missouri.

     Our analyses of kir Force deserters are in process and,
therefore, not included in this report.




                             18
APPENDIX I                                                  APPENDIX I

                 UNAUTHORIZED ABSENCE AS DEFINED   IN LAW

     Articles 85, 86, and 87 of the Uniform Code of Military
Justice (10 USC 885-887) define unauthorized absence in the
military services as a crime.  It describes the varicus
forms of unauthorized absence:

"Art. 85.    Desertion

    (a)    Any member of the armed forces who--
           (1)  w.ihout authority goes or remains absent
                from his unit, organization, or place of
                duty with intent to remain away therefrom
                permanently;

           (2)    quits his unit, organization, or place of
                  duty with intent to avoid hazardous duty
                  or to shirk important service; or

           (3)    without being regularly separated from one
                  of the armed forces enlists or accepts an
                  appointment in the same or another one of
                  the armed forces without fully disclosing
                  the fact that he has not been regularly
                  separated, or enters any foreign armed
                  service except when authorized by the United
                  States;

           is guilty of desertion.

   (b)     Any commissioned officer of the armed forces who,
           after tender of his resignation and before notice
           of its acceptance, quits his post or proper duties
           without leave and with intent to remain away there-
           from permanently is guilty of desertion.

   (c)    Any person founid guilty of desertion or attempt to
          desert shall be punished, if the offense is committed
          in time of war, by death or such other punishment as
          a court-martial may direct, but if the desertion or
          attempt to desert occurs at any other time, by such
          punishment, other than death, as a court-martial may
          direct.

"Art.    86. Absence without leave

          Anv member of the armed      forces who, without author-
          ity--




                                  19
APPENDIX I                                          APPENDIX I

         (1)   fails to go to his appointed place of duty
               at the time prescribed;
         (2)   goes from that place; or

         (3)   absents himself or remains absent from his
               unit, organization, or place of duty at which
               he is required to be at the time prescribed;
   shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.
"Art. 87. Missing movement

   Any person subject to this chapter who through neglect
   or design misses the movement of a ship, aircraft, or
   unit with which he is required in the course of duty to
   move snall be punished as a court-martial may direct."




                              20
APPENDIX II                                             APPENDIX II
              OUR SAMPLE OF UNAUTHORIZED ABSENCE (UA)

                  INCIDENTS TERMINATED DURING THE

               12-MONTH PERIOD ENDED MARCH 31, 1975


                              U.S. ARMY
                                                       UAs record-
              Total number                               ed in
                of UiAs in         Adjust-    Adjusted personnel
 Length       computerized Sample   ments      sample   records
 of UA          records     size  (note a)      size    (note b)
  (days)
Less than 1          -         -          -         -         11
   1 to 3        11,291      305        130      175         203
   4 to 15       23,535      479        142      338         325
  16 to 30        8,597      130         33       97         113

 Total
   30 or
   less          43,423      914        305      610        652
 31 to 60         5,706      142         27      115        111
 61 to 90         3,296      137         19      118        11l
 91 to 180        4,974      142         15      127        128
 Over 180         4,545      142         12      130         96
 Total
    over 30      18,521      563         73      490        448


 Total           61,944    1,477        378    1,100      1,100




                                   21
APPENDIX II                                                APPENDIX II




                                 U.S. NAVY
                                                         UAs record-
                  Total number                             ed in
                   of UAs in            Adjust- Adjusted personnel
  Length          computerized   Sample  ments   sample   records
  of UA             records       size (note c)   size    (note b)

  (days)

Less than   1           -            -        -       -           -
     1 to 3          12,264         307       98     209         211
     4 to 15         14,756         410      111     299         304
    16 to 30          6,106         142       37     105         113

    Tot     30
      or     ss      33,126         859      246     613         628

    31 to 60          3,185         145       34     111         169
    61 to 90          1,084         135       30     105         121
    91 to i80         1.168         146       29     117         140
    Over    180         445         149       26     123         150

    Total
      over 30         5,882         575      119     456         580

Length of UA
  not known           6,144         205       66     139          -

    Total            45,152       1,639      431   1,208       1,208




                                     22
APPENDIX II                                            PAPPENDIX II

                            U.S. MARINE CORPS

                                                        UAs record-
                   Total number                           ed in
                    of UAs in          Adjust- Adjusted personnel
  Length           computerized Sample  ments   sample   records
  of UA              records     size (note d)   size    (note b)

   (days)

Less than    1                    -       -       -         2
     1 to    3         13,730     2P1    125     156      157
     4 to    15        13,660     402    144     258      269
    16 to    30         5,259     141     62      79       74

    Total 30
      or less         32,649      824   331      493      503

    31 to    60        4,551      130    38      92       93
    61 to    90        2,126      125    22     103       94
    91 to    180       3,712      132    39      93       84
    Over     180       4,007      144    46      98      106

    Total
      over    30      14,396      531   145     386      377

    Total             47,045    1,355   476     879      879

a/Include 258 sample incidents not found in the examination
  of personnel records, 79 personnel records not at the re-
  view location, and 40 incidents combined with non-UA in-
  cidents.  These incidents were not included in the analyses.

b/The UAs are categorized by the length of absence recorded
  in the individual personnel records.  In some instances,
  the length of UA differed from that recorded in the com-
  puterized records.

c/Includes 230 incidents combined with non-UA incidents for
  disposition, 98 personnel records not found at the review
  location, 77 records being reviewed at 9/30/76, and 26
  sample incidents not found in the examination of personnel
  records.  These incidents were not included in the analyses.

d/Includes 151 personnel records not found at the review
  location, 124 UA incidents combined with non-UA incidents
  for disposition, 117 sample incidents not found in the
  examination of personnel records, and 84 records being re-
  viewed at 9/30/76.  These incidents were not included in
  the analyses.


                                   23