Stop-loss order

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"A 'stop-loss' order' directs the military to suspend all separations from service during a conflict, and could also direct the calling back of discharged personnel into active service as part of activating reservists, should they be needed."[1]


Reporting in the December 29, 2003, edition of the Washington Post, Lee Hockstader wrote that the "Army Stops Many Soldiers From Quitting. Orders Extend Enlistments to Curtail Troop Shortages".

"...thousands of soldiers [have been] forbidden to leave military service under the Army's 'stop-loss' orders, intended to stanch the seepage of troops, through retirement and discharge, from a military stretched thin by its burgeoning overseas missions.
"To the Pentagon, stop-loss orders are a finger in the dike -- a tool to halt the hemorrhage of personnel, and maximize cohesion and experience, for units in the field in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. Through a series of stop-loss orders, the Army alone has blocked the possible retirements and departures of more than 40,000 soldiers, about 16,000 of them National Guard and reserve members who were eligible to leave the service this year. Hundreds more in the Air Force, Navy and Marines were briefly blocked from retiring or departing the military at some point this year.
"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."

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  • 20 April 1999: "White House Mum on G.I. Stop-Loss Order", newsmax.com: "The White House refused to comment Monday on Friday's Fox News report revealing that "President Bill Clinton has ordered thousands who were planning to leave the military to stay in uniform until this conflict is over." The order was part of the Pentagon's call-up of 33,000 more reserve troops -- soldiers desperately needed to rescue Clinton's Serbian military initiative."
  • 20 September 2001: "Log Cabin Praises Pentagon 'Stop-Loss' Order -- Pledges Support for National Defense Suspension of Separations Allows Commanders to Retain Gay Soldiers, Gay Reservists and Discharged Soldiers Can Be Called Back", lcrga.com.
  • 21 March 2002: "War On Terror Keeps Thousands In Service Involuntarily" by by Tom Philpott, fra.org: "Service ``stop loss orders, the first issued soon after President George W. Bush declared war on terrorism, are a big deal inside the military, causing turbulence and uncertainty for thousands of service families. Plans to move to new towns, take new jobs, enroll children in new schools have been shelved indefinitely."
  • 29 April 2002: "Stop loss" by George S. Kulas, enterstageright: "Since Sept 11 the military services have not experienced a dramatic increase in enlistments. This is what military recruiters told the Senate Armed Services military personnel subcommittee on March 20th. Senator Max Cleland, D-Ga, chairman of the subcommittee expressed concern, not only because military leaders have told him they are having difficulties meeting current goals but also because they would have to meet much loftier goals if authorized personnel strength is increased due to expanding military missions/requirements. ... As it is the military is so short handed in some specialties that many of those who have already served out their enlistments are being forced to stay on involuntarily. Even some service members who have served over 20 years are being told they cannot retire. In the U.S. Army alone the 'Stop-Loss' Order has affected over 10,000 soldiers in over 30 occupational fields."
  • 29 May 2003: "Army partially lifts Stop-Loss order", Global Security: "The Army has lifted "Stop Loss" for active-component units involved in Operation Iraqi Freedom and for soldiers in about half of the specialties that had been required to stay on active duty. ... Assistant Secretary of the Army for Manpower and Reserve Affairs Reginald J. Brown approved the partial lifting of Stop Loss May 27. ... This lifting of Stop Loss will allow about 16,000 active-component, 4,900 Army Reserve and 675 National Guard soldiers to leave active duty if they want between now and October, personnel officials said."