The peacetime draft – signed into law in 1940 by President Franklin Roosevelt – lasted 33 years until it was abolished in 1973 by the government after almost a decade of unrest and protest during the Vietnam War era. But, the government has one of those “fine-print” clauses in the enlistment contract for military service that serves as a tactic which has come to be known as the “back door” draft.
The stop-loss provision is the involuntary extension of a service member’s active duty service under the enlistment contract in order to retain them beyond their initial end of term of service (ETS) date. Stop-loss was used immediately before and during the first Persian Gulf War. Since then, it has been used during American military deployments to Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, Kosovo and during the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and the subsequent War on Terror.
Stop-loss was created by the United States Congress after the Vietnam War. Its use is founded on two different provisions. The first is contained in Title 10, United States Code, Section 12305(a) and states in part:
“the President may suspend any provision of law relating to promotion, retirement, or separation applicable to any member of the armed forces who the President determines is essential to the national security of the United States”
The second provision is included in the actual enlistment contract signed by those entering service. Paragraph 9(c) of DD Form 4/1 (The Armed Forces Enlistment Contract) states:
“In the event of war, my enlistment in the Armed Forces continues until six (6) months after the war ends, unless the enlistment is ended sooner by the President of the United States.”
The Armed Forces Enlistment Contract uses the word “war”, but that word has literally lost its meaning through Congressional shirking of its constitutional role to declare war and the merging of all aspects of terrorism under the blanket cover of the “War on Terror.”
Every person who enlists in a branch of the U.S. Armed Forces signs an initial contract with an eight-year service obligation. The enlistment contract for a person going on active duty generally stipulates an initial period of active duty from 2 to 4 years, followed by service in a reserve component of the Armed Forces of the United States for the remainder of the eight year obligation. Service members whose ETS, retirement, or end of service obligation date falls during a deployment are generally involuntarily extended until the end of their unit’s deployment.
In 2002, the Army announced new orders that would forbid thousands of soldiers from leaving the service after they returned from Iraq, Afghanistan and other fronts in the war against terrorism. Since then, the stop-loss policy used by the Army to keep US soldiers and reservists in the military beyond the date when their service was supposed to end, has been used on more than 50,000 members of the armed forces since the war in Iraq began.
The policy is nothing more than a draft. The military is overextended fighting wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the Bush Administration was totally unprepared for the ensuing conflict once it ended its “shock and awe” tactics.
Plans were not made for a lengthy occupation nor were they made for the subsequent insurgency that divided the three ethnic factions in Iraq and placed our military smack in the middle. Military personnel have been recycled and recycled – some as many as four or five times.
Photo Credit: Wikipedia
When I attend the Peace Rally on the first Saturday each month, I see a few young people. But most of us are of an age who remember the Vietnam War and the draft with all its inequities. Most of us are in our 50s and 60s and recall the thousands of young people who marched in the streets and protested the Vietnam War. They protested because, among other concerns, they had a vested interest – they could be drafted.
Now that the draft has been abolished, the same interest of the young does not exist. But the government didn’t let go completely of its control over potential soldiers. All males of a certain age are required to register. And just why do you think registration is still maintained even though we have an all-volunteer military?
At some point, the government will be out of bodies to send to foreign lands. Volunteer enrollment will slow, and stop-loss will no longer work on a physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted and worn out body of soldiers. New bodies will be needed, and those bodies will be readily available through the selective service registration process.
All that will be needed is for Congress to re-instate the real draft, and, unless we disentangle ourselves from the Middle East, it is coming.