Senate Democrats

Bush Administration Has Gone Back on Its Word on Stop-Loss

The Bush Administration promised to minimize the use of a stop-loss policy that keeps troops in uniform past the time their service should end.  But earlier this week, a Pentagon official announced that the Army’s stop-loss policy would have to continue until at least the fall of 2009 and that the President’s “surge” had forced a 43-percent increase in the number of soldiers affected by the Army’s stop-loss policy.  The program, criticized as a “back-door draft,” effectively bars active-duty soldiers from leaving the Army even though they are within 90 days of retirement, and commanders have expressed deep concern about its effect on troops. Democrats believe we must change course in Iraq to relieve the strain on our servicemen and -women and begin to rebuild our military.

In 2007, Secretary Gates called for an end to stop-loss:

Secretary Gates Sought to End the Stop-Loss Order That Went Into Effect November 2002. In a January 19, 2007 memo, Secretary Gates gave each branch of the service until February 28th to suggest how to minimize the stop-loss program for both active and reserve component troops. The memo did not say by how much Gates wanted to cut down on the program. A stop-loss order has been in effect since November 2002 for Army Guard and Reserve units activated for the war on terrorism. [Marine Corps Times, 1/27/07]

Secretary Gates Said DoD Must Find Other Ways to Retain Troops. Last January, Defense Secretary Gates told each of the service secretaries and other senior defense officials to all but end the use of the unpopular stop-loss policy and find other ways to find the manpower the Defense Department needs. [Marine Corps Times, 1/27/07]

In 2008, Secretary Gates Said Stop-Loss Policy Negatively Impacted Troops. “Still, he [Gates] said, use of the policy ‘is an issue. It troubles me.’ Top Defense officials have pushed the Army to reduce the use of stop-loss orders. ‘When somebody expects to leave at a given time, and you tell them they can’t do that, it’s got to have an impact on them. And that’s the part that troubles me,’ Gates said.” [Los Angeles Times, 5/9/08]

Commanders Gravely Concerned About Stop-Loss’ Effect on Troops. “Commanders express grave concerns for troops shouldering wars on two fronts with no end in sight, particularly the half million who have served more than one combat tour since 2002. Soldiers in Iraq, who have seen the duration of their deployments extended as a result of an inadequate post-invasion plan, work seven days a week for 15 months straight, minus two weeks for a trip home to visit family…More than 60,000 troops have been subjected to controversial stop-loss measures—meaning those who have completed service commitments are forbidden to leave the military until their units return from war.” [U.S. News & World Report, 2/13/08]

But President Bush’s surge has increased the number of soliders retained through stop-loss:                                                      

Army Official Said Stop-Loss Would Have to Continue Into the Fall of 2009. Lt. Gen. James Thurman, the Pentagon’s deputy chief of staff for operations, told Army Times today that he hoped the Army could end stop loss by the fall of 2009. “As the [war zone] demand comes down, we should be able to get us weaned off stop-loss,” said Thurman. [Army Times, 5/5/08]

The President’s Surge Dramatically Increased the Number of Soldiers on Stop-Loss. Last year’s surge of five combat brigades into Iraq caused a 43-percent increase in the number of soldiers being barred from leaving the service under stop-loss orders. More than 12,230 soldiers are under stop-loss orders, compared to 8,540 in May 2007, during the surge. That said, the 30,000 combat troops that were part of the surge are in the process of coming home, and the Army is slated to return to 12-month deployments beginning Aug. 1. [Army Times, 5/5/08]

Many of the Soldiers That Have Recently Been Affected By Stop-Loss Have Had Tours Extended Over 6 Months. Many of the soldiers recently affected by the Army’s stop-loss policy were planning to leave, instead, they had their tours extended by an average of 6.6 months. [USA Today, 4/23/08]

Soldiers Considered Stop-Loss a Backdoor Draft. “However, many soldiers subjected to the stop-loss policy consider it a backdoor draft. Critics argue that once soldiers have completed the enlistment period they agreed to, they should be allowed to return home. The involuntary retention program is so unpopular that it helped inspire a recent movie called ‘Stop-Loss.’” [Los Angeles Times, 5/9/08]

Almost 60,000 Soldiers Were Placed on Stop-Loss Between 2002 and 2007. “The number of soldiers held in the Army under the stop-loss program reached a high in March 2005 of 15,758. That number steadily declined through May 2007, when it hit 8,540. But since then, the number of soldiers subjected to stop-loss orders began to increase again, reaching 12,235 in March 2008. Between 2002 and 2007, 58,300 soldiers were given stop-loss orders, forcing them to remain in the service past the end of their enlistment periods.” [Los Angeles Times, 5/9/08]