Secretary of Defense Robert Gates announced today that the army will phase out the so-called “stop-loss” program, which is being used to keep around 13,000 people in the military against their will, by 2011.
“To hold them against their will … is just not the right thing to do,” Gates declared at a Pentagon news conference. In the meantime, those soldiers forced to stay will be paid an extra $500 per month, retroactive to October. Under the plan, the goal would be to halve the number of stop-lossed soldiers by June of 2010, and to reduce it to “scores” of soldiers in March of 2011.
As major wars made recruiting more difficult, the military had been using stop-loss as something of a backdoor draft to shore up its numbers when volunteers couldn’t be found. Gates says the military will retain the option of using stop-loss in the future however, if “extraordinary” conditions so require.