Texas Public Radio has a report, “A surge in Navy deserters could be a sign of a bigger problem for the military,” that also references recent suicides in the Navy. I would note that, based on their reporting, there has been no comparable surge in other armed services, and there is good news from the Coast Guard.
“But other branches of the military didn’t see a similar increase in the past three years.Desertions in the Army dropped by 47%, from 328 in 2019 to 174 in 2021, and the Marine Corps reported 59 in 2019 and 31 in 2021. The Coast Guard said it didn’t record a single deserter between 2019 and 2021.”
I would also point out, that 157 desertions out of over 340,000 active duty members is still a pretty smaller percentage (<0.046%, about one out of 2,178), only a little worse than the Army’s much improved 2021 figures, and actually much better than the Army’s 2019 figures.
The TPR report is really using this “surge” as basis for discussing the lack of early out options. While we don’t want to spend a lot of money training someone for a high paying civilian job and then release him or her as soon as they go to a job where their boss actually expects them to do their job, there are times when early separation is good for the service.
Early in my career, it was the Vietnam era. Many enlisted in the Coast Guard, not because they wanted to be there, but because it was a way to avoid the draft. The Ocean Station program was ending, so the Coast Guard decided to decommission many of its larger ships and to truncate the WHEC 378 program at 12 instead of the planned 36. The resulting downsizing meant there would be a large reduction in force. We took advantage of this by early, many times compulsary, separation of many trouble makers and poor performers. It always seemed 90% of our personnel problems were caused by fewer than 10% of our people. This purge had a wonderful effect.