Associated Press - November 16, 2007 1:13 PM ET
PENTAGON (AP) - The Army's desertion rate has risen 80% since the invasion of Iraq four years ago.
Desertion is at its highest rate since 1980, though still far lower than when the draft was in effect during the Vietnam war.
Army statistics show about nine out of every 1,000 soldiers deserted during the past fiscal year. That's a 42% increase over 2006.
Despite the steady increase in desertions, an Associated Press examination of Pentagon figures earlier this year shows that the military does little to find those who leave their posts and rarely prosecutes the ones they get. Some are allowed to return to their units, while most are given less-than-honorable discharges.
Military leaders have acknowledged that the Army has been stretched nearly to the breaking point by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, with many soldiers serving repeated and lengthy tours.
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