Army Phasing Out Program Holding Soldiers After Service
Gates announces end to forced extensions
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 19, 2009 2:02 AM CDT
Soldiers of US Army Task Force Hawkins make their way near an M2A2 Bradley Fighting Vehicles during a live fire drill in South Korea in this file photo.   (AP Photo/ Lee Jin-man)
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(Newser) – The Army plans to stop forcing soldiers to serve again after their enlistment contracts are up, reports the Washington Post. Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced plans yesterday to phase out the “stop-loss” program—which keeps soldiers in the Army beyond their service obligation—over the next two years. Some 13,000 soldiers are currently serving under the deeply unpopular program, a number Gates hopes to nearly eliminate by 2011.

It's “breaking faith” to compel soldiers to fight when their service date is up, said Gates. An Army official said stop-loss had been a vital tool in recent years but acknowledged it had been tough on many families. The military will retain the power to compel troops to serve after their time is up, but Gates said it would only be used in extraordinary circumstances.