The examples and perspective in this article deal primarily with the United States and do not represent a worldwide view of the subject. Please improve this article and discuss the issue on the talk page. (August 2010)
Armenian soldiers in 1919, with deserters as prisoners
In military terminology, desertion is the abandonment of a "duty" or post without permission and is done with the intention of not returning. "Absence Without Leave" (US: AWOL; Commonwealth:AWL) can refer to either desertion or a temporary absence.
1 Absence without leave
2 U.S. War of 1812
3 Mexican?American War, 1846-48
4 American Civil War
5 World War I
6 World War II
7 Soviet desertion in the Afghan Civil War
7.1 Inter-ethnic explanation for desertion
7.2 Soviet disillusionment upon entering the war
7.3 Problems in Soviet army structure & living standards
7.4 Soviet deserters to the Mujahideen
8 Vietnam War
9 Iraq War
9.1 United Kingdom
9.2 United States
10 Legal status of desertion in cases of war crime
11 See also
12 References cited
13 Further Reading
15 External links
Absence without leave A United States wartime poster deprecating absence.
In the United Kingdom, United States and Canada, military personnel will become AWOL (/?e?w?l/; U.S.: Absence Without Leave ) or AWL (pronounced the same; U.K., Canada, and Australia: Absent Without Leave) when they are absent from their post without a valid pass or leave. The United States Marine Corps, United States Navy and United States Coast Guard generally refer to this as Unauthorized Absence, or "UA". Personnel are dropped from their unit rolls after 30 days and then listed as deserters; however, as a matter of U.S. military law, desertion is not measured by time away from the unit, but rather:
by leaving or remaining absent from their unit, organization, or place of duty, where there has been a determined intent to not return;
if that intent is determined to be to avoid hazardous duty or shirk contractual obligation;
if they enlist or accept an appointment in the same or another branch of service without disclosing the fact that they have not been properly separated from current service.
People who are away for more than 30 days but return voluntarily or indicate a credible intent to return may still be considered AWOL. Those who are away for fewer than 30 days but can credibly be shown to have no intent to return (for example, by joining the armed forces of another country) may nevertheless be tried for desertion. In rare occasions, they may be tried for treason if enough evidence is found.
In the United States, before the Civil War, deserters from the Army were flogged; while, after 1861, tattoos or branding were also adopted. The maximum U.S. penalty for desertion in wartime remains death, although this punishment was last applied to Eddie Slovik in 1945. No U.S. serviceman has received more than 24 months imprisonment for desertion or missing movement since the beginning of the post 9-11 era.
A US service member who is AWOL/UA may be punished with non-judicial punishment (NJP), or by Court Martial under Article 86 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice for repeat or more severe offenses. Many AWOL/UA service members are also given a discharge in lieu of court-martial.
Missing Movement is another term which is used to describe when a member of the armed forces fails to arrive at the appointed time to deploy (or "move out") with their assigned unit, ship, or aircraft; in the United States military, it is a violation of the Article 87 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The offense is similar to absence without leave but can draw more severe punishment.