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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