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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 June, 2005, 22:19 GMT 23:19 UK
War swells US army divorce rate
US officers in Iraq
US soldiers serve 12-month tours in Iraq
The number of US army officers getting divorced has soared in the past few years, the Pentagon says, a trend blamed on wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In 2004 the rate of divorce was more than three times as high as in 2002, figures showed.

"The stressors are extreme in the officer corps, especially when we're at war," an army spokeswoman said.

In another sign of strain on the army, it failed to meet its recruiting target for the fourth straight month.

The army actually lowered its target for May, the Pentagon said, but still fell short of the new goal.

Colonel Joe Curtin, a Pentagon spokesman, said the army still hoped to recruit 80,000 troops in the 12 months to September, and hoped things would pick up in the summer months.

"We haven't thrown in the towel yet," he said.

Problems adjusting

The divorce rate has gone up across the whole army but particularly so among officers.

In the year to September 2002, 1.9% of percent of married Army officers got divorced, along with 3.1% of married enlisted soldiers, according to Pentagon figures cited by Reuters.

In 2003, when the Iraq war began, the figure for officers rose to 3.3% while for enlisted soldiers it fell to 2.8%.

The following year, the figures were 6% and 3.5% respectively.

The military said time spent away from a family, the strains of warfare, and problems readjusting to home life were all factors in the marriage break-ups.

US soldiers serve 12-month tours in Iraq.

"Rising through the ranks, every subsequent job gets more difficult, more intense and more demanding," Colonel Pamela Hart told the USA Today newspaper.

"There's a lot of responsibility on the leaders' shoulders, which, I can assure you, takes away from the home life."

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