Home > Uncategorized > A De Facto Draft Now in Place

A De Facto Draft Now in Place

Interesting article from the Associated Press. Looks like we have a draft after all — people being forced to serve in the military. Any thoughts?

“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.

The policy applies to soldiers in units due to deploy for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The Army said stop-loss is vital to maintain units that are cohesive and ready to fight. But some experts said it shows how badly the Army is stretched and could further complicate efforts to attract new recruits.

“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.

With yearlong tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, some soldiers can be forced to stay in the Army an extra 18 months.


Lt. Col. Bryan Hilferty, an Army spokesman, said that “there is no plan to discontinue stop-loss.”

“We understand that this is causing hardship for some individual soldiers, and we take individual situations into consideration,” Hilferty said.

Hilferty said there are about 12,500 soldiers in the regular Army, as well as the part-time National Guard and Reserve, currently serving involuntarily under the policy, and that about 50,000 have had their service extended since the program began in 2002. An initial limited use of stop-loss was expanded in subsequent years to affect many more.

“While the policies relative to the stop-loss seem harsh, in terms of suspending scheduled separation dates (for leaving the Army), they are not absolute,” Hilferty said. “And we take individual situations into consideration for compelling and compassionate reasons.”

Hilferty noted the Army has given “exceptions” to 210 enlisted soldiers “due to personal hardship reasons” since October 2004, allowing them to leave as scheduled.

“The nation is at war and we are stop-lossing units deploying to a combat theater to ensure they mobilize, train, deploy, fight, redeploy and demobilize as a team,” he said.


A few soldiers have gone to court to challenge stop-loss.

One such case fizzled last week, when U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth in Washington dismissed a suit filed in 2004 by two Army National Guard soldiers. The suit claimed the Army fraudulently induced soldiers to enlist without specifying that their service might be involuntarily extended.

Courts also have backed the policy’s legality in Oregon and California cases.

Jules Lobel, a University of Pittsburgh law professor who represented the National Guard soldiers, said a successful challenge to stop-loss was still possible.

“I think the whole stop-loss program is a misrepresentation to people of how long they’re going to actually serve. I think it’s caused tremendous morale problems, tremendous psychological damage to people,” Lobel said.

“When you sign up for the military, you’re saying, ‘I’ll give you, say, six years and then after six years I get my life back.’ And they’re saying, ‘No, really, we can extend you indefinitely.”‘

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.”

COMING THIS WEEK: SLO police chief Deb Linden and Paul Brown address this year’s Mardi Gras concerns Wednesday at 4 p.m. On that same day, at 6:05, we’ll give away our Valentine’s Day package for a night at The Fogcatcher Inn and dinner for two at Brambles.

  1. Rich from Paso
    February 6, 2006 at 9:01 pm


    Stop-loss is not that big of a deal. What it does is provide stability to a unit about to deploy by retaining the team that has trained together. Some of these people are in very key positions and allowing people to ETS right before a deployment would dramatically reduce that unit’s effectiveness. The problem is overblown because those soldier on stop-loss are allowed to leave the service not more than 60 to 90 days after they return. It is in the contract they sign; the same paragraph the Code Pink people hated so much. That paragraph also allows for soldiers to get promoted or change duty stations. Most soldiers understand all of this and they are okay with it. I had one guy that was sent back to Iraq because stop-loss was instituted 4 months after the brigade deployed. He returned to Iraq, served his time with honor, and left the Army within 45 days after returning with everyone’s respect because he didn’t complain once. While not a popular program with anyone, it is a necessity for deploying units.

  2. The New Tone of San Luis Obispo
    February 7, 2006 at 4:57 am

    It is amazing how some can take and issue and make it seem like the entire military is totally against it when it is in fact a small percentage of people. No one wants to do extra time in any job which they hope to leave behind, but in certain jobs like the military and asupreme court justice, it can be required.

  3. Bob from San Luis
    February 8, 2006 at 4:19 am

    No one wants to do extra time in any job which they hope to leave behind, but in certain jobs like the military and asupreme court justice, it can be required. Okay, that’s a nice analogy, volunteer soldier and Supreme Court Justice….. one is a person who, maybe is fresh out of high school, signs up to serve his/her country, hoping to obtain job skills or to earn money for college with an understanding that they will be serving for a determined time period which hopefully their recruiter has pointed out the possibility that their time could be extended, and the other is middle aged professional who is hopefully at the top of their game, nominated by the President of the United States of America with a lifetime appointment if confirmed. Yeah, that’s a close analogy…..
    To be serious for a moment, I don’t think anyone who is committed enough to sign up for military service doesn’t have an understanding that their service can be modified, once again, if the recruiter fully explains the obligations of the commitment the person is signing up for. According to the article, the military has provisions for those whose extensions that would be a hardship to be considered. I just hope that those provisions are provided on an even handed basis so that all are treated fairly. What doesn’t seem to be considered by the first two comments is what the effect on recruitment could be if the stop-loss policy is executed on a consistant ongoing basis, as new recruits may be shy about to committing to an extra few months to a possible year or more. Rich from Paso (in another post comments section) did a good job of explaining how having contractors providing non-military roles of support can actually increase the boots-on-the-ground numbers, so long as those who are signing up understand that the roles they are signing up for will not be mainly support roles, but mostly front line combat situations, if needed. And I have read how many who are serving in Iraq are anxious to get back to their unit when they are back home on a leave, citing how their unit “needs” them. Perhaps the main thrust of the article is to highlight how we should really be concerned IF there are any new situations that come up needing an armed forces response.

  4. Rich from Paso
    February 8, 2006 at 6:02 pm

    Well, done in summarizing my previous post. I don’t think, however, that the continued use of stop-loss affects recruiting because it has been going on for the last three years. A recruit would have to be a fool, and thus undesirable for service, if they did not understand that they were 1) going to war at some point in time, 2) may have to stay beyond the point in time they wish to leave, 3) seen reports just like the one Dave posted everywhere in the media. Actually, very small numbers of troops are affected and most deployments occur in the middle or beginning of service as opposed to the end. Bottom line on stop-loss is just like I said, over blown. Most soldiers hold off on reenlisting in order to reenlist in Kuwait or Iraq because all reenlistment bonuses are tax free (a tragedy that the government feels it necessay to tax a reenlistment bonus the same as a corporate CEO, true story). I saw a married couple reenlist for $25,000 tax free over there. If you are under a year but deployed, you fall under stop-loss, which inflates the numbers of those affected by the program. I don’t know for sure because I have no access to their records, but I believe that the sources of the complaints come from two sources: people with a good gig lined up outside of service, or malcontents desparate to get out of the Army. Like I said earlier, 99.5% of all soldiers under stop-loss serve honorably and then become civilians or reenlist. They don’t sue or create the “backdoor draft” talking point Kerry tried to use in his campaign. The proof is in the fact that retention rates are soaring, even for soldiers on their second and third tour in Iraq. The Guard and Reserve are vexed by soldiers of the pre-9/11 mentality that only enlisted “for the education benefits” and didn’t expect to actually be deployed and fight in a war. They are now paying for their self-delusion. What we need is a larger active force, (all volunteer, of course), in order to take the pressure off of the Reserves and NG and enable the active component to be more self-sustaining in the short run, say a year. Now, the way things are, Guard and Reserve forces were called up from the get go, because they do things like water purification, heavy transportation, and civil affairs that the active force doesn’t do in large numbers.

    By the way, Bob, apology accepted, and you are not a pinhead.

  5. San Simeon Sam
    February 24, 2006 at 6:58 am

    danger danger….we can not under estimate how stupid Bush is or how diabolical Rove is….this whole port authority thing smacks of a Rove manipulation….Bush’s position is so extreme and so dangerous to our security and has so greatly upset the American public that even the Republicans (not the Darwin defying neocons, but the moderates) are condemning this despicable act. Its a Rove put on for November. This action allows republicans to come out against Bush….that will win them votes in November….”I’m the anti-bush republican, vote for me” This whole thing is a RNC plot. My only question is whether or not they told Bush

  6. Rich from Paso
    February 25, 2006 at 12:51 am

    Again, San Simeon Sam, I feel Imust reiterate what I said on Dave’s show on the subject: we are not at war with every Muslim in the world, only the islamofacsists of the world. When people talk about this as endangering our national security, they forget that the Brits operated the ports for years. If there was lax security then there will be lax security now. Furthermore, who else in the world is going to want to deal with the Longshoreman’s union? Answer: no one. This topic has become so overwrought by Bush haters and 2006 grandstanders that there is no consideration of the logic for the deal. Final thought: we are not going to win the Global War on Terrorism through military might alone. We need to encourage the Arab world to going us in the 21st Century. That will not happen if we act in apparent racist anger that all Arabs are spoiling for our destruction. The Arabs will kill each other over cartoons. Does anyone find that more troubling than an international business, albeit from UAE, managing 6 ports, or am I just alone on that one? Republicans need to dial it down on the rhetoric because they hated when Justice Alito guilty by association with the whole CAP group and now they are giving the UAE the same treatment because two of the 9/11 hijackers were from the UAE. 19 were from Saudi Arabia and their oil still flows into America. The Democrats are missing an opportunity to stand for something other than hating Bush. They should be submitting a comprehensive port and border security bill to address their “concerns” over the deal.

    Final thought… I have said in other posts: either George Bush is the most diaboilically evil brilliant mind ever to sit in the President’s Chair or he is the dumbest boob to hold the Presidency, he can’t be both. No matter how good Karl Rove is or how much afraid of Karl Rove the left is of him, he can only do so much if Bush is a boob. Consider this while you are at it: if Karl Rove is so brilliant as to manipulate the American people, members of Congress and the entire Democratic party, what does that say about your party to get manipulated like that? I would be horribly disappointed in the Republicans if there was someone able to pull my party’s chain like that. Hell, I wouldn’t tell anyone my party was so easily manipulated. Maybe it is just easier for Dems to blame Bush for everything than to admit that they are so intellectually desolate and vacant that they are just that easy to manipulate. I think the truth is that Dems all too eager to fall in the tiger trap chasing Bush and Karl Rove does nothing to stop them.

  7. JerryDinAZ
    February 20, 2007 at 10:20 pm


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