The number of soldiers in the U.S. Army who have been dismissed because of crimes or misconduct has doubled within the space of six years, reflecting the toll that long and repeated deployments have taken on American troops.
The number of enlisted soldiers forced out of the Army for drugs, alcohol, crimes and other misconduct soared from 5,600 at the peak of the Iraq war in 2007 to more than 11,000 last year, while the number of officers who left tripled to 387 last year, reports the Associated Press.
Meanwhile, the number of Navy sailors, Marines, and Air Force service members dismissed for misconduct has remained relatively constant or declined.
Numerous high profile scandals have plagued the U.S. military in recent years, from sexual assault to mistreatment of enemy combatants. Authorities say that while long, repeated deployments may be a factor in worsening troop behavior, the number of soldiers dismissed also may be related to the size of the military. When the military begins to shrink, commanders are freer to dismiss more soldiers for misconduct.
“We’re paying a lot more attention to it now. We are not tolerant at all of those showing a lack of character,” Gen. Ray Odierno, the U.S. Army’s chief of staff told the AP. “We have to refocus ourselves so we get to where we think is the right place.”
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