Expanded Army Stop-Loss Affects 7,000 Deployed Troops
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 5, 2004 The Army's expansion of the stop loss/stop movement program is expected to affect about 7,000 active-duty soldiers deployed in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.
Col. Elton M. Manske, chief of the Army's Enlisted Division, said the expansion, to be announced "within days," will affect only soldiers already in theater who have upcoming service expiration dates or approved or scheduled retirement dates.
Most deployed soldiers, he explained, are not affected because they have service obligations that extend beyond their deployments.
The stop-loss restrictions bar voluntary separations and retirements for soldiers in designated units throughout their deployments and up to 90 days after their unit returns to its home station. In addition, the stop-movement policy suspends the normal rotation of soldiers into and out of affected units.
The expansion essentially levels the field for all soldiers deployed in the war on terror, Manske said. Units slated for the next rotations to Iraq and Afghanistan already are subject to stop-loss restrictions based on a Nov. 13 Army announcement. In addition, mobilized Reserve and Guard troops are subject to a stop-loss policy that took effect in November 2002.
Manske said readiness requirements drove the Army leadership to expand the program to include troops deployed for the first rotation of Operation Iraqi Freedom and the fourth rotation of Operation Enduring Freedom.
"This decision is really being driven by the readiness of units and the absolute intent to keep the units themselves intact down to as low as the squad and crew level," he said, "so we are assured of putting the best fighting force on the battlefield in support of the soldiers as well as the Army at large."
Manske said the Army leadership recognizes that the decision probably will create hardships and disrupt plans for some of the affected soldiers.
"The Army and Defense leadership are very sensitive to the impact that this potentially has on individual soldiers and their families," he said. "I would emphasize that there is no intent to keep soldiers any longer than is absolutely necessary to sustain unit readiness beyond their contractual obligations or to keep them from moving on to other assignments.
"We intend to take care of our soldiers."