Sunday, March 22, 2009

Stop Loss To End

It's about time!
"Stop-loss," the unpopular U.S. Army practice of forcing soldiers to remain in military service beyond the end of their enlistment period, will be phased out and ended completely by the end of 2012, according to the Department of Defense (DoD).
The first regular (active-duty) Army units to not include stop-loss members will be deployed overseas in January of 2010. Unless required to continue it because of a national emergency, the Army plans to eliminate the stop-loss practice completely during 2012, states the Pentagon.

Soldiers forced to remain in the Army under stop-loss will receive an additional $500 per month until the program is terminated. This payment, says the DoD, “will serve as an interim measure to help mitigate its effects.”

“Stop Loss disrupts the plans of those who have served their intended obligation. As such, it is employed only when necessary to ensure minimal staffing in deploying units, when needed to ensure safe and effective unit performance,” said Bill Carr, deputy under secretary of defense, in a press release. “It is more easily rationalized in the early stages of conflict when events are most dynamic; but tempo changes in this war have frustrated our efforts to end it altogether.”

The growth in the number of troops retained by stop-loss has been attributed to the Iraq war “surge,” which saw an additional 30,000 troops deployed to Iraq during 2007.

According to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, more than 13,000 troops are currently serving under the stop-loss program, or about 6,000 more than when he took over his post in December 2006.

“I felt particularly in these numbers that it [stop-loss] was breaking faith,” Gates is quoted as saying in the Kansas City Star. “To hold them against their will is just not the right thing to do.”
Stop loss creates significant morale problems.

My first team leader ever in the Army, Sergeant Ward, was a victim of stop loss during the first Gulf War. Let's just say that Sergeant Ward was not pleased at all with the fact that he spent an additional year on active duty. I still vividly remember how he's spray paint his boots black every Sunday night and then not touch them for a week.

The fear of stop loss is real and exacerbated by recruiters. Back in 2002 I had a rather aggressive recruiter who kept telling me that if I didn't sign up for Reserve or National Guard duty that I would be stop lossed and sent to Iraq or Afghanistan with some rag tag unit.

Fortunately, I had served 11 years on active duty and could not be stop lossed. It didn't stop the recruiters from trying to intimidate me. I heard from other friends in the Veterans community that they received similar threats.

Without the threat of stop loss, these low life recruiters will have to resort to other methods to deceive recruits.

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