Army could end 'Stop-loss' by late 2009

PENTAGON (AP) - A top military official says it will be more than a year before the Army can end the unpopular practice known as "stop-loss." That's the policy of forcing soldiers to stay in the service beyond their retirement or re-enlistment dates.

Lieutenant General James Thurman says he hopes wartime demand for troops will decline enough by around the fall of next year to end stop-loss. He says there are more than 12,000 currently serving under the practice -- an action that critics have called a "backdoor draft."

Thurman also says that as officials continue to increase the size of the Army, it could be possible by the fall of 2011 for troops to be home two years for every year they are deployed.

Stop loss and long tours of duty have been among the Pentagon's most disliked practices among troops. Thousands have been forced to stay in the service beyond their contracts since the start of the global war on terrorism.

Posted by LS