New AWOL policy comes after macabre summer called attention to missing soldiers

| October 16, 2020

Jeff LPH 3 sends in the news that the Army is expected to roll out a new AWOL policy in light of all the missing soldiers.

In the next two weeks, Army senior leaders expect to distribute a new policy governing how the absent without leave status is applied to a soldier who doesn’t report for duty, according to Army Chief of Staff James McConville.

The policy could address complaints from some families of missing soldiers, such as the mother of Pvt. Gregory Morales, who said military investigators were quick to dismiss his disappearance as a troubled troop intentionally absconding from post. They now think he was a victim of foul play.

“When someone is not present for duty, the assumption [will be] that they are missing and not AWOL,” McConville said during a telephone call with reporters Thursday at the Association of the United States Army conference. “The policy we had in place was somewhat confusing for some of our commanders, so we put out a new policy verbally, but it’s in draft right now and next week or two, it’ll be out in writing.”

The Army will essentially be creating a “missing category,” according to the chief.

“[Soldiers] only become AWOL after a thorough investigation, a thorough look for the soldier, dealing with the family, dealing with law enforcement [and] we can prove that they are absent without leave,” McConville said.

They can call this the Bergdahl Protocol.

Source; Army Times

Category: Army, Army News, Guest Link

Comments (28)

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  1. Sapper3307 says:

    In my 23 years in uniform, anybody missing in the company was really AWOL.

    • Andy11M says:

      Pretty much this. The few times I ever saw someone in my company vanish they were gone of their own accord. Had our company armorer vanish, then right before 30 days turned himself in to another post on the other side of the country. They separated him with a general I think. Then he came back to the unit demanding his stuff. Nobody would tell him that when he was declared AWOL the PSG cut the lock off his locker to inventory his stuff, but only after he let most of the platoon go through his TA-50 and other stuff. Made for far fewer items to inventory and secure in the supply room.

      • Sapper3307 says:

        AWOL hold baggage story.
        My entire battalion in Wildflecken Germany was packing up for Desert storm, supply told us to throw the AWOL hold baggage away. So we starting haling stuff away that had been collecting dust since 1951. Clothing , 8 track players , record players , tube radios you name it. Some neat stuff.

        • timactual says:

          Ah, beautiful, scenic Wildflecken. Spent a brisk and refreshing winter there one April. I believe it was one of the very few places in Europe where overseas pay was authorized. Before Global Warming, of course. First class accommodations—in 1939. Original decor and utilities.

  2. Skippy says:

    Never go Bergdahl

  3. 5th/77th FA says:

    Does this mean we have to come up with a new status code for the DA Form 1?

    More investigators for CID types or do we turn the accountablity over to the local popo for PVT Snuffy/Snuffette and take it away from the Chain of Command?

    The military is a reflection of society as a whole. People don’t show up at work…and they just disappear. Nobody seems to be ready to sue a company when their loved one shows up dead V not at work. Most companies today will have you replaced or do away with your position within an hour or so of a “No Report.”

  4. Roh-Dog says:

    .:hangs head in shame:.
    Seriously, what precisely does ‘AWOL’ stand for again?
    How does that NOT include missing?
    Thanks Army, redefining words!
    This just in, absent does NOT mean missing!
    Miriam Webster should really just f’ing stop putting up definitions after his week, that’s at least 2 that’ve been doubleplusgoodered.

    • Roh-Dog says:

      One the next episode of The United States Army: Attempting to Prove Negatives watch Major Schrodinger explain why dark matter is the reason he didn’t graduate Ranger School.

  5. penguinman000 says:

    As I recall AWOL could only be applied immediately if there was clear evidence they did not intend to return. Such as inventorying their gear, leaving their ID card, etc..

    Otherwise they were carried as UA for 30 days then declared AWOL.

    This is Navy/Marine Corps practice. Is/was the Army different?

    • Roh-Dog says:

      I’ve seen Soldiers declared AWOL in as little as 48 hours, after repeated AWOL/UAs and dumbassery, to be dropped from rolls to get a replacement troop.
      Usually it was after a confirmation from the airline/TSA that the idiot departed the Island of Oahu.
      Unsure if the process could be the same for the CONUS units.
      I hope that that methhead Parker is enjoying himself, assuming he’s still alive.

      • SFC D says:

        During my adventure as a rear-detachment 1SG, I had some repeat offender AWOL shitbirds, we declared them AWOL after 24 hours. Shitbirds return to the roost quick when they ain’t getting paid. Also had an AWOL surprise. DHS called me out of the blue from Tucson International, said they’d detained an AWOL (he popped up on the no-fly-list.) and would we please come get him. Nobody knew who this guy was. No records of him at brigade or battalion. Turned out he’d been gone 5 years.

        • Green Thumb says:


          Saw a dude go AWOL back in the day.

          Three years years later he fell into morning formation like nothing happened.

          No shit.

        • 5JC says:

          They started that back in 2001 when I was in my first command. The old policy was 1 year or less they returned, the new policy was 5 years. We had shitbags showing up that knew absolutely no one. We were supposed to help them work through whatever issues led them to go AWOL in the first place. Their issues mostly being that they hated the military.

          The unit policy was the first thing you had to do was give them a tinkle test. We had a guy from three years back sit there and shit his pants to keep from going.

          I think they should investigate missing soldiers. Then when they find them drag them back and court martial them and close the book. If foul play did happen. Then look in to that instead. Currently they do nothing.

          • 26Limabeans says:

            I can remember when the MP’s knocked on the neighbors door and
            hauled his AWOL son back to Fort Devens. I kept that in mind
            when I enlisted a few years later.

    • Hack Stone says:

      Correct Hack if he is wrong, but UA (Unauthorized Absence) is interchangeable with AWOL (Absent Without Leave), UA being the Navy and Marine Corps verbiage, AWOL used by Army and Air Force. Regardless, after 30 days in a UA/AWOL status, the individual is dropped from the unit rolls and listed as a Deserter. And of course, there is everyone’s favorite acronym, IHCA, which is In Hands Of Civilian Authorities, which means that Schmuckatelli got busted by the local constable as he tried to outrun the local police in that piece of shit car that he financed from Semper Fi Motors.

    • timactual says:

      You are confusing desertion with AWOL. AWOL is generally an Army & Air Force term whereas the Nay and Marine Corps uses UA.

      “Article 86 — Absence without leave
      2005 MCM Article 86-10
      a. Text. “Any member of the armed forces who, without authority —
      (1) fails to go to his appointed place of duty at the time prescribed;
      (2) goes from that place; or
      (3) absents himself or remains absent from his unit, organization, or place of duty at which he is required to be at the time prescribed; shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.”

      I thought I was reasonably familiar with Art. 86 of the UCMJ (for reasons I will not go into) but evidently there is a lot more to it.

  6. 26Limabeans says:

    What ever happened to Roll Call?
    Three times a day. Every day.
    Would doing it by smart phone be too much of a challenge?

    • HMCS(FMF) ret says:

      You’d be cutting into the troops time on the Book of Face and Twatter…

    • Milo Mindbender says:

      Back in the 80’s I was on shift work hunting submarines and worked 8 on 8 off. Roll call would have cut hard into my sleep sched. and deprived me of the opportunity to get food, laundry, and sleep all in 7 hrs before it was back on the watch floor.

  7. Prior Service says:

    True story. We had a clown loser in my tank company. He went AWOL but we cut his money off at the local bank (works like a champ in Germany). The Polizei picked him up. He tried “killing himself” by dragging his wrist over the toilet paper roller in the bathroom. We got him back. He went AWOL again. The day before we could drop him from the rolls his PSG comes to me, saying the clown was calling for us to pick him up. He asked me he should do it. I thought about it for about ten seconds and said “you’ve got something else to do.” A great NCO, he just smiled.

  8. David says:

    I recall more than one duty station where AWOL for 48 hours rolled straight to deserter status. Classified info was involved.

  9. Green Thumb says:

    FTR < 72 hours.

    AWOL 30 days.

    DFR > 31 days.

    Bottom line: AWOL = Shitbag bum.

  10. OWB says:

    From reading the comments it is apparent that in the vast majority of cases when a troop “disappears” it is voluntary. So, I can certainly understand why most folks would assume that anyone who can’t be located has left of their own accord.

    On the other hand, if a criminal investigation into the circumstances of a trooper’s failure to report for duty doesn’t begin pretty quickly, the odds of generating appropriate criminal cases decreases fairly exponentially.

    Where is the sweet spot between assuming every missing solder left of their own accord and initiating a full blown criminal investigation just in case they didn’t? I don’t know, but it does occur that erring on the side of conducting more thorough investigations into the circumstances of a trooper being gone comes closer to the widely held tenet that we leave no man behind.

    • phmlpn says:

      It boils down to intent. During an investigation, everyone involved with the soldier (family, friends, superiors) is interviewed.

      If the soldier is a dirtbag and just wants to leave, that will be addressed. Remember, the element of intent still exists.

      On the other hand, if the soldier didn’t leave on their own accord, then that will be addressed too.

      Given the events at Fort Hood this year, it was discovered that murdered soldiers were placed in AWOL/deserter status while they lay dead from foul play.

      It’s hard to report for duty once you’ve assumed room temperature.

      But I am also for prosecuting AWOL and deserters to the fullest extent of the UCMJ.

  11. HMCS(FMF) ret says:

    What ever happened to picking up the phone or checking the barracks/home out if someone didn’t show up for formation? Looks like Big Army is having to force some common sense thinking onto lower lever leadership.