AWOL vs Desertion

Discussion in 'Army Pay, Claims & JPA' started by Golf_one_one, Nov 9, 2006.

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  1. Couple of questions for you G1 types,

    what is the distinction between a soldier going AWOL and a soldier deserting?

    and what punishments are applicable for the above.....

    I am i the know about less tha 48hrs absent = minor sanction AGAI 67 more than 48hrs = major sanction

    and, no, it isnt me...... :)
  2. in_the_cheapseats

    in_the_cheapseats LE Moderator

    Split normally is simplified by way of time away. More than 2 yrs you will probably end up being charged with Desertion rather than AWOL although it is rarely that black or white. There are other qualifiers as well but it is up to all legal argument and circumstances of the absence.
  3. Isn't desertion down to whether you have been warned for, or are on. Ops?
  4. Yes. This is the difference.
  5. in_the_cheapseats

    in_the_cheapseats LE Moderator

    It is not black and white. For desertion there must be evidence that the soldier has no intention of coming back. Again it boils down to the circumstances of the absence not simply warning off for ops
  6. Point taken, but it was maent to be a simple answer. The point was you do not "desert" unless you are warned off for, or are on ops. I will have to check up on the time limit as things changed with the introduction of AGAI
  7. One measure was if the individual had ditched all his kit including ID card and changed his name or had not intention of returning. I had the misfortune to be guard commander on 2 occasions when individuals turned up to give themslves up, 1 after 11 years, the other after 16!

    All that happened was a charge sheet was made out recording them as AWOL - total time 11 years, 2 months 15 days or whatever. Put in nick for a couple of days, documentary discharge and records all straight!

    I think if it happened in theatre, especially Ops then it would be totally different and desertion would be the charge. :roll:
  8. B_AND_T

    B_AND_T LE Book Reviewer

    Desertion is extremely difficult to prove as ITC says. AGAI action is only used for periods less than 48 hours any more than that is dealt with by the normal discipline process.
  9. Slightly wrong end of the stick in my view. AWOL is considerably easier to prove, stand on parade in the morning and shout Smith! If you don't get a reply they are AWOL, that is they are not where they are required to be to perform their duty. All you have to ensure is that they did not have a good reason such as being in hospital or kidnapped and you have them banged to rights.

    Desertion on the other hand requires that the state of mind at the time they went absent or subsequentlyis such that they intended never to return. This can be difficult and time consuming and apart from exceptional circumstances results in exactly the same outcome as an AWOL charge. The Manual of Military Law used to give some specific if archaic examples of behaviour that were examples of desertion.
  10. For the answer you are looking for go to MML and QR#s through GOOGLE.
  11. I've been out of the G1 Chain for a year now - so could be wrong if new rules have come out, but when I was an SSA the hard and fast rule for Army prosecutors was over 8 months - desertion, being warned for ops didn't actually come into it. The 8 month rule is def still in MML, but I accept that maybe things have changed with the amount of ops we are on these days.

    I had the misfortune to be rear party during an ops period and in that time had 3 DCMs, all for boys who had gone AWOL just prior to when they were due to deploy, and none of them were done as deserters, but by the same token, a lad that had been gone a year prior to the dployment was....... It is possible that it depends on the quality of the prosecutor (Some of whom are downright awful). To my mind anyone who leaves his mates in the lurch when they need him most is scum, deserves to be done as a deserter and shot at dawn

    (having just watched the remembrance vid on youtube I'm feeling quite emotional - can you tell?)
  12. vasser is more or less correct.

    Ultimately, the distinction is not 100% clear as it is based on a body of case-law. However, as a rule of thumb desertion applies in two cases: absenting oneself without the intent to return; and absenting oneself from operational duties.

    Proving that an individual has no "intent to return" is legally tricky. 8 months isn't a bad yardstick, but it's by no means definitive. I dealt with an individual who had been AWOL for 5 years and was only picked up because plod nicked him for an unrelated offence. If he had been charged (he wasn't), then he would probably only have been charged with AWOL, rather than Desertion, as he never completed Phase 2 training.

    The latter indicator - feeling an operation duty - is a lot easier to prove but still not completely black and white and many soldiers arrested for avoiding operational tours in this fashion have been charged only with AWOL rather than Desertion.

    So there you have it.

  13. My understanding was that you could be charged with desertion if you had rid yourself of all Army ID and kit which demonstrated an intention to not return to duty.
  14. The AA 55, 37(2), (b) gives the definition of desertion.