Pentagon Will Keep Extending Soldiers' Tours

Military will deny exit to some 12K a month through 2009
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 27, 2008 8:30 AM CDT
A US soldier of the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, and Iraqi police officers patrol in Fadhiliah, eastern Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2008.   (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
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(Newser) – Soldiers are likely to face involuntary extensions of combat duty throughout 2009, USA Today reports, despite repeated Pentagon promises to rely less on the practice. Roughly 12,000 soldiers are hit with “stop loss”—which forces them to stay in the Army after their commitment has expired—each month, and that number is likely to remain constant throughout 2009, assuming the demand for troops remains constant. More than 140,000 have been affected since 2002.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates says he’d “like to see the Army rely less on stop loss;” previous attempts to limit the practice were short-lived. The Army says it needs to maintain unit cohesion. “We only use stop loss when we have to,” says one colonel. But critics are fierce; Rep. John Murtha called it “a draft” that disrupts lives.