AskDefine | Define deserter

Dictionary Definition

deserter

Noun

1 a disloyal person who betrays or deserts his cause or religion or political party or friend etc. [syn: apostate, renegade, turncoat, recreant, ratter]
2 a person who abandons their duty (as on a military post) [syn: defector]

User Contributed Dictionary

English

Etymology

From Latin deserere to abandon

Noun

  1. A person who has physically removed him- or herself from the control or direction of a military or naval unit with the intention of permanently leaving
  2. Under the United States Code of Military Justice, a person who has been placed on AWOL status for more than 30 days

Translations

Related terms

Extensive Definition

In military terminology, desertion is the abandonment of one's "duty" or post without permission from one's Government or one's superior. One's ultimate "duty" or "responsibility," however, under International Law, is not necessarily always to one's "Government" nor to one's "superior," as we see in the fourth of the Nuremberg Principles, which states: "The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him."http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuremberg_Principles This Nuremberg Principle of "moral choice," "morality," or "conscience" being the higher authority was subsequently formulated into International Law by the United Nations as we see in this quote: "Under UN General Assembly Resolution 177 (II), paragraph (a), the International Law Commission was directed to "formulate the principles of international law recognized in the Charter of the Nuremberg Tribunal and in the judgment of the Tribunal.""http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuremberg_Principles In 1998, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights document called “Conscientious objection to military service, United Nations Commission on Human Rights resolution 1998/77” recognized that “persons [already] performing military service may develop conscientious objections” while performing military service.

Absent Without (Official) Leave

In the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, and France, military personnel become AWOL (UK: Absent WithOut Leave; US: Absent Without Official Leave) or AWL (Canada and Australia: Absent Without Leave), all of which are , except Australia who say the letters "A W L" when they are absent from their post without a valid pass or leave. The United States Marine Corps and United States Navy generally refer to this as Unauthorized Absence, or "UA." Such people 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 important responsibility;
  • 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, while those who are away for fewer than 30 days but can credibly be shown to have no intent to return (as by joining the armed forces of another country) may nevertheless be tried for desertion or in some rare occasions 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 US servicemember has received more than 18 months imprisonment for desertion or missing movement during the Iraq war. http://nlgmltf.org/pdfs/2-16-08%20AWOL%20FROM%20THE%20ARMY.pdf
AWOL/UA may be punished with nonjudicial punishment (NJP; called "office hours" in the Marines). It is usually punished by Court Martial for repeat or more severe offenses.
Also, "Missing Movement" is another term which is used to describe when a particular servicemember 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 87th article of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The offense is similar to AWOL, but considered more severe.
Less severe is "Failure to Repair," consisting of missing a formation, or failing to appear at an assigned place and time when so ordered.

American Civil War

Desertion was a major factor for the Confederacy in the last two years of the war. According to Weitz (2000), Confederate soldiers fought to defend their families, not a nation. He argues that a hegemonic "planter class" brought Georgia into the war with "little support from non-slaveholders" (p. 12), and the ambivalence of non-slaveholders toward secession, he maintains, was the key to understanding desertion. The privations of the home front and camp life, combined with the terror of battle, undermined the weak attachment of southern soldiers to the Confederacy. For Georgia troops, Sherman's march through their home counties triggered the most desertions.
One example of desertion in the Civil War was Confederate soldier Arthur Muntz, who was killed by his fellow soldiers after deserting at The First Battle of Bull Run.
The fictional story of a wounded Confederate deserter is told in the novel Cold Mountain, who at the end of the Civil War walks for months to return home to the love of his life after receiving her letters pleading him to come home.

World War I

"306 British and Commonwealth soldiers [were] executed for...desertion during World War I," records the Shot at Dawn Memorial. "During the period between August 1914 and March 1920 more than 20,000 servicemen were convicted by court-martials of offences which carried the death sentence. Only 3,000 of those men were ordered to be put to death and of those just over 10% were executed...." http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/1399983.stm

World War II

Over 21,000 US military personnel were convicted and sentenced for desertion during the 3.5 years of American involvement in World War II. Of these, 49 were sentenced to death, but only one soldier, Eddie Slovik, was actually executed for desertion.
The 'Lost Division' was a term given to the estimated 19,000 U.S. Army soldiers absent without leave in France at the close of World War II.
Of the Germans who deserted the Wehrmacht, 15,000 men were executed. In June of 1988 the Initiative for the Creation of a Memorial to Deserters came to life in Ulm (birthplace of Albert Einstein). A central idea was, "Desertion is not reprehensible, war is".http://sites-of-memory.de/main/ulmdeserters.html

Iraq War

United Kingdom

The UK military has reported over 1000 deserters since the beginning of the war in Iraq, with 566 deserting since 2005. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/5024104.stm

United States of America

According to the Pentagon, more than 5500 military personnel deserted in 2003–2004, following the Iraq invasion and occupation. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/12/06/60II/main659336.shtml. The number had reached about 8000 by the first quarter of 2006. http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2006-03-07-deserters_x.htm Another report stated that since 2000, about 40,000 troops from all branches of the military have deserted, also according to the Pentagon. More than half of these served in the US Army http://www.airforcetimes.com/story.php?f=1-292925-1930387.php. Almost all of these soldiers deserted within the USA. There has only been one reported case of a desertion in Iraq. The Army, Navy and Air Force reported 7,978 desertions in 2001, compared with 3,456 in 2005. The Marine Corps showed 1,603 Marines in desertion status in 2001. That had declined by 148 in 2005. http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2006-03-07-deserters_x.htm To date, no service member from the Iraq war has received a sentence of more than 18 months for desertion or missing movement. http://nlgmltf.org/pdfs/2-16-08%20AWOL%20FROM%20THE%20ARMY.pdf

References

  • Peter S. Bearman; " Desertion as Localism: Army Unit Solidarity and Group Norms in the U.S Civil War" Social Forces, Vol. 70, 1991
  • Ella Lonn; Desertion during the Civil War University of Nebraska Press, (1928 (reprinted 1998)
  • Aaron W. Marrs; "Desertion and Loyalty in the South Carolina Infantry, 1861-1865" Civil War History, Vol. 50, 2004
  • Mark A. Weitz; A Higher Duty: Desertion among Georgia Troops during the Civil War University of Nebraska Press, 2000
  • Mark A. Weitz; "Preparing for the Prodigal Sons: The Development of the Union Desertion Policy during the Civil War" Civil War History, Vol. 45, 1999
deserter in Danish: Desertering
deserter in German: Fahnenflucht
deserter in Spanish: Deserción
deserter in Esperanto: Dizerto
deserter in French: Désertion
deserter in Korean: 탈영
deserter in Italian: Disertore (guerra)
deserter in Hebrew: עריקה
deserter in Lithuanian: Dezertyravimas
deserter in Hungarian: Szökés (bűntett)
deserter in Dutch: Desertie
deserter in Japanese: 脱走兵
deserter in Norwegian: Desertering
deserter in Polish: Dezercja
deserter in Russian: Дезертирство
deserter in Slovenian: Dezerter
deserter in Finnish: Sotilaskarkuruus
deserter in Swedish: Desertering

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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