It's one thing to shout from a podium, but when you shout, you'd better be right. Recently, on The Unpatriot's Blog, I came across a post mentioning RTO Trainer, who has been posting on blogs throughout the internets on the topic of stop-loss. Now I as one always bewitched by the shadows in Plato's Cave always appreciate it when someone wiser takes the time to straighten me out, but in this case I feel the guiding hand of someone leading me further into the darkness.
According to RTO Trainer (my emphasis):
Here's how it actually works: When stop loss is in effect, it only affects soldiers from the time that their unit is placed on alert until either they are stood down from alert or 90 days after they redeploy (return home from deployment). So soldiers that are supposed to End Term of Service (ETS) or retire (unless for attaing maximum age which is 60) won't until stop loss is lifted for the unit. What's more the current stop loss policy includes a 12 month out. If a soldier has been held past his separation date for 12 months he can choose to separate at that time.
This doesn't jive with what people still stuck in the service have told me. So I did an investigation and this is what I found:
The “stop-loss” order was initially issued November 13, 2003. Different stop-loss orders were then issued to various military entities with different stipulations designating effective time and targetted specialties.
Let's take a look at an official U.S. Military Site:
SECTION 1 ACTIVE ARMY
4. ALL ENLISTMENTS, REENLISTMENTS, EXTENSIONS, PERIODS OF OBLIGATED SERVICE, AND OTHER PERIODS OF ACTIVE DUTY (EXCEPT PARTIAL MOBILIZATION, WHICH IS NOT AFFECTED BY STOP LOSS) FOR ACTIVE ARMY SOLDIERS SPECIFIED IN PARA 4A(1) ARE EXTENDED, SUBJECT TO THE EXCEPTIONS NOTED IN PARA 10, UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE.
"Until further notice." There's nothing here about "for 12 months" or "only if deployed."
ETS DATES ADJUSTED TRANSITION LEAVE EFFECTIVE TO 24 DEC 2031
The "ETS" date is militarese for when a soldier's allowed to get out. RTO Trainer calls this an administrative detail (which it is), I don't think the Army's going to hold soldiers for two or three more decades. But they will hold them as long as they want to.
And what about those soldiers in the Reserves?
READY RESERVE SOLDIERS IDENTIFIED IN PARA 6A(1) WILL BE INVOLUNTARILY EXTENDED UNTIL TERMINATION OF STOP LOSS FOR THE SUBJECT PMOS. STATE ADJUTANTS GENERAL MUST MANAGE THESE SOLDIERS TO ENSURE THEY DO NOT SEPARATE BEFORE THE TERMINATION OF THEIR STOP LOSS STATUS.
I don't see any promises here that it won't be longer than 12 months or the like. Some soldiers, convinced that they had signed a "contract," felt strongly enough about this issue that they sued the government.The Law Office of Michael Sorgen was (is?) handling the case of a National Guard soldier who had been mobilized for an “Initial 545 days” (I'm not good at math, but ain't that more than 12 months?) The Law firm points out:
Unless this Court intervenes, Doe’s involuntary enlistment could be extended indefinitely. An Army directive implementing the stop loss program in the Army National Guard extends the actual period of Doe’s enlistment until December 24, 2031.
"Indefinitely." (In other words, the original enlistment contract is currently hanging on the hook in an Iraqi latrine.) The lawsuit (see Alternet) rightly argues that the stop-loss order should only be valid after war is legally declared by Congress.
As pointed out in the Alternet article, "People don't surrender (all) rights when they go into the military," says Marguerite Hiken, co-chair of the Military Law Task Force of the National Lawyers Guild. "The government can't hold you indefinitely. If the war on terrorism never ends, 'stop loss' doesn't end. These people never get out. The military is saying we control you completely."
What about the Guard then? The blurb on the California National Guard site seems, at first site, to be closer to what RTO Trainer is talking about:
ARNG soldiers presently affected by the skill-based stop loss will remain under the Army’s 12-month soldier stop loss policy. Upon release from the skill-based stop loss or the completion of 12 months under stop loss, these soldiers will then only be affected by stop loss again if their respective unit is subsequently mobilized at a later date.
But wait a second. What happens to the soldier about to get out who gets held over for a year due to the "skill-based stop loss" and then gets deployed with their unit (which would require training prior to going to Iraq), a possible involuntary re-extention while in Iraq, and then an extra 90 days upon returning? We're talking what--something closer to about 3 years.
The COMD site has it right:
It is an axiom among activists working in the area of counter-recruitment that the enlistment contract isn't worth the paper it's printed on. What this means in practical terms is that whatever a recruiter promises to deliver to a new recruit — specific jobs or assignment, length of service, benefits, or even citizenship — can be withdrawn or changed at any time.
Section C, Paragraph 9 of the enlistment contract states: "Laws and regulations that govern military personnel may change without notice to me. Such changes may affect my status, pay, allowances, benefits, and responsibilities as a member of the Armed Forces regardless of the provisions of this enlistment/reenlistment document."
Everyone thinking about enlisting should think long and hard about this. You will be expected to live up to every word and comma in your end of the contract. The government, on the other hand, will dump you into its meat grinder, add a pinch of spent uranium for flavor, and then feed you to the dogs.
The blogs mentioned in the beginning as having been visited by RTO include: The Draft Begins from WinkBlog, Viewer Mail from Confessions of a Community College Dean, Disaster Recovery and Disaster Recovery from the same, Military Matters from Anbruch, Shanghai Revisited discussion of Iraq in Axe Handles, Blogbox July 8, 2005 from Backside of the Bell Curve, Scramble, from My Life as a Military Spouse, and Rumsfeld gets an Earfull, from Nitwit Planet.