Tuesday, June 03, 2003

Desertion: Still a military crime?
by The JAG Hunter

Last April Army Chaplain and Lutheran minister Glenn Palmer deserted his unit claiming he couldn't deal with the war in Iraq. Captain Palmer walked out on 500 combat soldiers, deployed in theater Iraq, just days before Easter Sunday.

Col. Daniel Paul, Palmer's boss at Ft. Riley, Kan. responded, "Absolutely not" when asked if Chaplain Palmer faced punishment. Col. Paul seems to be in keeping with current Army policy turning its back on deserters.

The memo apparently didn't reach Howard Baker, U.S. Ambassador to Japan. Baker, while standing next to Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, told reporters "that while we have sympathy for [Army Sgt. Charles Robert Jenkins], the legal process will have to operate," suggesting Jenkins would face disciplinary action if he tried to join his wife in Japan. Sgt. Jenkins deserted the Army to North Korea in 1965. Sgt. Jenkins is 63 years old.

Either desertion is a military crime, or not.

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