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Stop Lost: Why Stop Loss Must Be Stopped
T.J. Newton

The military has found a way to initiate more wars. The American people tried to set limits on the military, but the Pentagon has extended their abuse of American democracy to the American soldier.

"Fair has nothing to do with it," said Maj. Steve Stover, an Army spokesman (WP par. 30).

Stover is referring to the military's "stop loss" program, which makes the enlistment contracts signed by recruits into a kind of lie. It isn't much different from a mortgage company demanding payment for decades beyond the date printed on the original contract signed by homeowners, for no other reason other than "national security." No American would go for that. No American soldier should have to.

"We're all soldiers. We go where were told," Maj. Stover added (WP par. 30).

If that were really true, soldiers would have no rights at all. But they do, and those rights are stipulated in words. By instituting the "stop loss" program, along with the kind of statements made by Stover, the military seems to be suggesting that they do not intend to honor their commitment (written or otherwise) to those who serve.

The military leadership, or "brass," sees it as a way to initiate more wars.

By prohibiting soldiers and officers from leaving the service at retirement or the expiration of their contracts, military leaders have breached the Army's manpower limit of 480,000 troops, a ceiling set by Congress (WP par. 8).

And why not? They've already misled the American people about weapons in Iraq, and tried to cover up a prison abuse scandal. Not to mention that we are currently engaged in a so-called "war on terror" that will never end, and that is as focused on reducing the constitutional rights of American citizens as it is on "fighting terror."

"I'm not sure that 280 million Americans are ready to accept that [the war on terror] is a permanent condition..." (Tom Ridge qtd. (1) 05/28/2002).

Stop loss must end upon cessation of the National Emergency and release of mobilized Reserve Component soldiers and units... (AASS par. 13) The Army is not limited in the manner or scope of stop loss implementation (AASS par. 17).

In a never-ending war, "stop loss" is a permanent condition.

On [some soldiers'] Army paychecks, the expiration date of their military service is now listed sometime after 2030 -- the payroll computer's way of saying, "Who knows" (WP par. 4)?

While there are signs that the problem has at least been recognized...

[A]n official news bulletin from Air Force Print News noted: "Both the secretary [James G. Roche] and the chief of staff [Gen. John P. Jumper] are acutely aware that the Air Force is an all-volunteer force and that this action, while essential to meeting the service's worldwide obligations, is inconsistent with the fundamental principles of voluntary service" (WP par. 29).

No statement has been issued that recognizes "stop loss" would not be "essential" if America's "worldwide obligations" were not isolated from the rest of the world. Instead, the best they could do is recognize that stop loss "[c]an create soldier/family member hardships" (AASS par. 20).

But deceiving the American people, particularly American soldiers, does more than create hardship. It undermines American democracy. We cannot allow an executive order and the tired old excuse of "national security" to be used to rewrite the words printed on contracts with the American people and the American soldier. Bypassing the democratic process to sneak around the words that constitute the rules is flatly wrong. But it is something the administration continues to do without regard for freedom.

The administration ...could order a ...search of a U.S. citizen's home and, based on information gathered, secretly declare the citizen an enemy combatant, to be held indefinitely at a U.S. military base. Courts would have very limited authority to second-guess the detention, to the extent that they were aware of it [...] "It's a separate track for people we catch in the war" (DP p. A1 12/1/2002 from Washington Post).

The political enemies of the administration, which now appear to include the American soldier, are left to fend for themselves in a hostile political environment concerned only with expanding the power of the administration and it's ideas.

We will ...wage a war of ideas to win the battle against international terrorism... (NSS 6).

That now includes reneging on the words stated on contacts.

"Unfortunately, I signed the dotted line saying I'm going to serve my country," said [Staff Sgt. Justin] Fontaine, 27, [a] mechanic, who said he spent "20 or 30 days" fruitlessly researching legal ways that he could quit the Army when his contractual departure date came up in February [2003] (WP par. 15).

The bottom line is that "stop loss" needs to stop. It is a threat to American democracy, American soldiers, and the long-term survival of the American military.


AASS: Army Announces Selective Stop -Loss 3. stoploss3_pao.doc. http://www.army.mil/ (Search for "stop loss"). 17 November 2004.

DP: Daily Press. Newspaper. Dec. 1, 2002. Newport News, VA: Tribune.

NSS: United States (2002). White House. The National Security Strategy of the United States of America. Washington: http://www.whitehouse.gov.

WP: http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A36979-2003Dec28?language=printer.


(1) http://www.cnn.com/2002/US/05/28/ridge.cnna/index.html

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