Army Plans To Phase Out ‘Stop-Loss’ Practice

Defense Secretary Robert Gates says holding soldiers 'against their will ... is just not the right thing to do.'

The Army plans to phase out the “stop-loss” practice — which keeps soldiers on duty beyond their obligation — by 2011, Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced Wednesday (March 18). Soldiers who continue to serve under the policy will be offered extra pay, Gates said.

Some 13,000 soldiers are serving under the policy, and the goal is to reduce that number by 50 percent by 2010, with the practice all but eliminated by 2011.

“I felt, particularly in these numbers, that it was breaking faith,” Gates said at a Pentagon news conference. “To hold them against their will … is just not the right thing to do.”

The unpopular stop-loss policy was addressed in MTV’s Bill of Rights for American Veterans , or BRAVE, a petition introduced in October that urged the next president (who turned out to be Barack Obama) to raise awareness and support veterans’ issues.

The fifth item on the petition, “Pay the Troops for the Work They Do,” asked the next administration to insure that troops who have been stop-lossed get paid an additional $1,500 a month. Effective this month, the Army will pay soldiers who are under stop-loss an extra $500 per month, Gates said. Congress authorized the payments in October, so they will be retroactive to then.

Stop-loss began with a 1990 executive order, which gave the defense secretary the authority to hold on to or bring back from retirement military personnel deemed essential to U.S. national security. It was used during the 1990-91 Persian Gulf War and again after the 2001 terrorist attacks.

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