Odierno: Army may have 'lost focus' on character of soldiers

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Associated Press

Posted on February 15, 2014 at 5:01 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Army's top officer says the service branch may have "lost focus" on the character issue in recent years, amid repeated deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.

The comments from Gen. Ray Odierno follow similar concerns expressed by Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

An examination of personnel data finds that the number of U.S. soldiers who've been forced out of the Army in the past several years because of crimes or misconduct has soared. And the number of officers who left the Army because of misconduct has more than tripled in the past three years.

The numbers underscore the strains that have been faced by soldiers and their leaders amid long and repeated deployments to the front lines. They also reflect the Army's rapid growth in the middle part of the decade, and the decisions to relax standards in order to bring in and retain tens of thousands of soldiers for the fights in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Over the past year, a series of high-profile scandals -- from sexual assault and damaging leadership to mistreatment of the enemy and unauthorized spending -- has plagued the military. The scandals led to ethics reviews and new personnel policies.

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145-c-20-(Tim Maguire, AP correspondent)-"tripled for officers"-AP correspondent Tim Maguire reports the Army has seen a big increase in soldiers and officers being forced out of the service. (15 Feb 2014)

<<CUT *145 (02/15/14)££ 00:20 "tripled for officers"

146-c-24-(Tim Maguire, AP correspondent)-"those in uniform"-AP correspondent Tim Maguire reports the Pentagon is focusing on ethics in the ranks amid a series of high profile scandals. (15 Feb 2014)

<<CUT *146 (02/15/14)££ 00:24 "those in uniform"

144-v-33-(Tim Maguire, AP correspondent)--The number of U.S. soldiers forced out of the Army because of crimes or misconduct has spiked in the past several years. AP correspondent Tim Maguire reports. (15 Feb 2014)

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APPHOTO WX206: FILE - This photo April 23, 2013 file photo shows Army Chief of Staff Ray Odierno testifying on Capitol Hill in Washington. The number of U.S. soldiers forced out of the Army because of bad conduct or crimes has soared in the last several years, as the military comes out of a decade of war that put a greater focus on battle competence than character. Data obtained by The Associated Press shows that the number of officers who left the Army due to misconduct tripled in the last three years. And the number of enlisted soldiers forced out for drug, alcohol, crimes and other misconduct shot up from about 5,600 in 2007 as the Iraq war peaked, to more than 11,000 last year. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File) (23 Apr 2013)

<<APPHOTO WX206 (04/23/13)££

APPHOTO WX207: FILE - This undated file photo provided by the U.S. Army shows Brig. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sinclair. The number of U.S. soldiers forced out of the Army because of bad conduct or crimes has soared in the last several years, as the military comes out of a decade of war that put a greater focus on battle competence than character. Data obtained by The Associated Press shows that the number of officers who left the Army due to misconduct tripled in the last three years. And the number of enlisted soldiers forced out for drug, alcohol, crimes and other misconduct shot up from about 5,600 in 2007 as the Iraq war peaked, to more than 11,000 last year. (AP Photo/U.S. Army, File) (30 Sep 2011)

<<APPHOTO WX207 (09/30/11)££

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