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The Army has paid out $16 million in pay and allowances to deserters and soldiers who are absent without leave, the Army Audit Agency has discovered.
In a July 13 message titled “Stopping pay for soldiers in an absentee/deserter status,” the Army directed the personnel officers to tighten reporting and financial controls.
“Between January 2010 and July 2012 the Army made over 9,000 payments to absentee soldiers totaling approximately $16 million,” the message states. “In this current environment of scarce resources, this is unacceptable.”
The message directs commanders to follow up on “all in-transit soldiers who did not arrive on their report dates ... and place strong emphasis on the status of absentee soldiers.”
“Commanders at company and battalion level must promptly investigate the status of absentee soldiers,” the message directs, “and not hesitate when reporting duty status of absentee and deserter personnel in the personnel system with proper AWOL and DFR [dropped from the rolls] transactions.”
In response to Army Times’ request for comment, Army officials said today they are preparing a response.
Army Regulation 630-10 defines AWOL as “absentee military personnel who are absent without authority from their unit, organization, or other place of duty for more than 24 hours, but have not been administratively classified as deserters.”
A deserter, the regulation says, is a soldier who is “dropped from the rolls of his or her unit when — absent without authority for 30 consecutive days” and lists several other reasons, including joining the armed forces of another country, seeking political asylum and living in a foreign country.
In 2010, according to information provided by the Army, 24 soldiers were thrown out of the Army for desertion and 310 for being AWOL. All were E-4s and below.
More current figures were not immediately available.