While the idle Bush twins continue to loll around America, doing the butt dance, table dancing at parties where condoms replace condiments, and hob-nobbing with cocaine dealers, 50,000 Americans have been forced to remain in the military past the terms of their commitments.
The U.S. Army has forced about 50,000 soldiers to continue serving after their voluntary stints ended under a policy called “stop-loss,” but while some dispute its fairness, court challenges have fallen flat.
“As the war in Iraq drags on, the Army is accumulating a collection of problems that cumulatively could call into question the viability of an all-volunteer force,” said defense analyst Loren Thompson of the Lexington Institute think tank.
“When a service has to repeatedly resort to compelling the retention of people who want to leave, you’re edging away from the whole notion of volunteerism.”
When soldiers enlist, they sign a contract to serve for a certain number of years, and know precisely when their service obligation ends so they can return to civilian life. But stop-loss allows the Army, mindful of having fully manned units, to keep soldiers on the verge of leaving the military.
Under the policy, soldiers who normally would leave when their commitments expire must remain in the Army, starting 90 days before their unit is scheduled to depart, through the end of their deployment and up to another 90 days after returning to their home base.
Congressional critics have assailed stop-loss, and 2004 Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry called it “a back-door draft.” The United States abolished the draft in 1973, but the all-volunteer military never before has been tested by a protracted war.
A report commissioned by the Pentagon called stop-loss a “short-term fix” enabling the Army to meet ongoing troop deployment requirements, but said such policies “risk breaking the force as recruitment and retention problems mount.” It was written by Andrew Krepinevich, a retired Army officer.
Thompson added, “The persistent use of stop-loss underscores the fact that the war-fighting burden is being carried by a handful of soldiers while the vast majority of citizens incur no sacrifice at all.”