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.