“The official stop loss policy is intended to provide continuity and cohesiveness during national emergencies and war.  The Army includes this clause as part of each soldier’s initial agreement.  8 soldiers have now come forward to challenge this stipulation, by asserting that the Army knowingly misled them into believing they were only committing to a 1-year term.

The soldiers’ attorney maintains that their contracts made no reference to the stop loss policy and that the program the registered for was specifically advertised as a 1-year commitment to help out efforts in Iraq (1).

Media reports of the broken commitment of a 1-year term have only recently broken as multiple soldiers join together in a class action suit.  This occurrence had already been noted in mid-August by the BBC (2).

Overall, I find 3 key points/perspectives to this issue:

1.  Soldiers joining the Army are made fully aware of the stipulations of their enlistment (at least I hope so).  Extensions are explicitly dictated to and signed off by the new recruits.

2.  The personnel included in the class action suit signed up for a special 1-year program targeting retired veterans.  Is this permissible? A special program with a finite activity schedule and named “Try-One”; is this not false advertisement, or at least a little deceptive?  The Try-One contracts, as the soldiers lawyer indicates, did not include stipulations for stop loss policy.

3.  The DoD continues to report good numbers for new recruits.  If recruitment and training targets are being met, why do you need to employ a stop loss policy?  Just continue to incorporate the new troops in the place of those that are due to leave.  I know, I know… cohesiveness and continuity right?  To me, that sounds like a lack of planning, management, training, and coordination. 

As a final note, targets are being met for recruitment; therefore, individuals who have fulfilled their service obligation should be recognized and allowed to return home. Committed military personnel should not have to suffer because a bureaucrat is unable to manage or implement an effective turnover policy.  That’s right, Mr. Rumsfeld, your fired!

(1) Soldiers challenging Pentagon policy extending enlistments
(2) US soldier sues over Iraq call-up