Thursday, June 03, 2004

On May 18 the General opined that calling up the inactive reserves as a means of putting more US soldiers in Iraq was a truly desperate move, akin to sucking out "the last drops from the domestic coffee cup" short of a military draft. It appears I now need to come up with an analogy even more desperate for the Pentagon's latest move. Maybe reconstituting the dehydrated coffee sludge at the bottom of the cup from the day before?
Army officials announced yesterday that thousands of active-duty and reserve soldiers who are nearing the end of their volunteer service commitments could be forced to serve an entire tour overseas if their units are chosen for deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan.

The order applies to all Army soldiers who are deployed in the future and means that many troops could face extended terms in the military after their formal contracts expire. The Army had previously issued such orders on a unit-by-unit basis, as troops deployed. Now, all soldiers are on notice that if their units are called into the fight, they will go -- and stay.

Soldiers will be notified 90 days before their units are to deploy, and by policy, all soldiers must then serve with their units until 90 days after they return. If a soldier's scheduled service end date falls within that window, he or she will be forced to serve the entire tour.
This is "stop-loss" with a freakin' vengeance. It was already the case that all US troops currently serving in the Middle East were prevented from leaving the military after their terms of service expired if their units were still deployed. Now the Pentagon has extended this policy to all future troops as well. If I'm doing the math correctly, a US soldier -- active, reserve or guard -- could be 91 days away from discharge and receive notice in the mail this his/her unit has been called up for duty in Iraq. That means up to 18 months additional service (3 months mobilizing in the US, 12 months in Iraq, 3 months demobilizing in the US) on top of what the soldier had already signed up for.

No wonder John Kerry said in respone "They have effectively used a stop-loss policy as a backdoor draft." Yet in light of [1] Kerry's strong criticism of Bush stretching the US military too thin and [2] his prior calls for an additional 40,000 troops in Iraq, is Kerry simply setting us up for a front door draft??


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