Stopping Stop-Loss

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The legal fight against "stop-loss"–the policy of keeping soldiers in the armed forces past their agreed enlistment time–hits the class-action level, via the Center for Constitutional Rights. Our own Tim Cavanaugh tackled this matter ahead of the curve, back in Dec. 2003.

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  1. What do “support the troops” types make of this? Their heads asplode?

  2. “Supporting the troops” has always been defined as a desire to send them off to war, Brian. I don’t see the contradiction.

  3. Joe, I’m not certain, but he may have been talking about what the “Support the Troops” type thinks of this lawsuit, not “stop loss” in general. I don’t think they have much problem at all with stop loss.

    In any event, stop loss is a back-door draft and if they can’t do this they’ll have to reinstate the regular draft to fill their ever-increasing troop needs.

    Every day I just get more skeptical of this whole operation. We’ve dug a deep pit and they’ve pulled the ladder out on us.

  4. Yeah. I meant we’re supposed to support the troops (a codeword for supporting the war and the president) but they’re being difficult and gumming up the works with dastardly trial lawyers.

  5. “Supporting the troops” has always been defined as a desire to send them off to war, Brian. I don’t see the contradiction.

    Is there anyway the Hit & Run admins can get us a rolleyes icon of some sort?

  6. Stop loss is always a possibility when you join the military. It’s in your contract, and if you don’t want to be subject to stop loss, it’s easy to avoid. Don’t join the military.

  7. Thank you for capitalizing the “A” to differentiate between us 🙂

  8. What Andy said.

    Absolutely no one is forced to join the Army, although the smart ones join the cavalry (we lend tone to what would otherwise be a vulgar brawl). While all of the implications of the contract are not fully explained to recruit (and some are not too bright), recruits are not deceived. What could be more libertarian than caveat pedes?

  9. I just wonder what effect all this great publicity of the concern towards the welfare of soldiers will have on future recruitment efforts. Actually, I don’t; I just say I do.

  10. Josh idiotically says,

    “Stop loss is always a possibility when you join the military. It’s in your contract, and if you don’t want to be subject to stop loss, it’s easy to avoid. Don’t join the military.”

    How touching. How informative.

    When I joined the Marine Corps in 1998, NO ONE knew or explained or even mentioned this. Moreover, I know for a fact recruiters are told to purposely not bring it up now. It’s a deterrent to recruiting and thus lowers numbers. True, stop-losses weren’t really a big deal when I joined, however I was subjected to a couple after 9/11.

    But what Josh and others who’s compassion runs deep fail to recognize is that the effects of a stop-loss can be truly far reaching and deleterious for all involved. For example, I did 0811 Marine Corps artillery, but my old unit (I got out on 8 June) was recently converted to an infantry unit. There are some similarities between the two types of combat arms, but not enough to make any real difference in a combat situation. So how does the stop-loss affect this? When the warning order was issued this past November, my unit was effectively locked into a stop-loss. Even though several NCOs were scheduled for discharge in December, they must now lead junior Marines into combat in Iraq in a job they have little to no experience in.

    My guess is if you or a loved one were trapped in this situation, claiming “you should’ve known better” would be the last thing on your mind.

    Yes, ultimately those of us who sacked up and actually joined the military are responsible for our own fates. But anyone who thinks the recruiting process allows for appropriate time for evaluation of the contract is mistaken. Compound that with the recruiters’ duplicity and (in many cases, but not mine) an improper education and what you have is a nasty problem.

    This stop-loss is bad for the troops in terms of MOS efficiency, bad for mission accomplishment in Iraq, bad for long-term recruiting and enlisted retention, and awful for morale.

    The last thing we need are freeloading (and self-appointed experts who, ironically, are woefully ignorant) civilians counseling us on the proper mindset to adopt. I believe we have a right to complain and defend ourselves against undue demands especially considering we’re the ones actually doing the difficult work.

    Besides, if you really want to demonstrate how enlisted Marines and soldiers should behave, I believe your local Marine recruiter would be more than willing to speak with you.

  11. Stop loss is always a possibility when you join the military. It’s in your contract,

    Their lawyers must be lying then.

    “This (case) is unique because (Qualls) volunteered for a specific time, ” said James Klimanski, an attorney involved in the case. “There’s nothing in (the Try One) contract — even in the fine print — that calls for the involuntary extension under this circumstance,” he added, calling stop-loss “a backdoor draft that the Bush administration is imposing on American service members.”

  12. Correction, it wasn’t Josh. My mistake. I believe it was Andy.

    Apologies, Josh.

  13. I have a copy of my enlistment contract at home, I’ll pull the relevent part out. (I was in the USN from 91-95)

  14. Andy’ll quote the contract for you but I’ll offer the following …

    I don’t know if the ARNG “try one” contract includes the wording but I would imagine that the federal government has a strong case because once ARNG units are federalized they come under federal military law.

    As an example, ARNG troops do not fall under the UCMJ at all times until federalized.

    This is hardly a draft. It can be bad for morale and future recruiting and retention but soldiers I know don’t see stop loss as that unreasonable (more Joes and junior officers than NCOs and career officers have a problem with it, though).

    Once you take the king’s coin …

    On the other hand, if you want to say “we’re at war” and mobilize your reserves you might want to declare war and have everybody in for the duration. Rumsfeld and some generals thought they were real clever using only a few divisions to conquer Iraq (and dismissing the local forces of order) until it turned out that we did not then and have not since controlled the country. If we had controlled the country from the beginning with a big force, subsequent drawdown and demobilization would have been much easier.

    I’m sympathetic to Luke’s arguments about poorly educated young men getting rooked by recruiters. Joe does get screwed. Still, that’s an argument for Joe getting a better education or for recruiters being required to explain the more unpleasant aspects of service, not for not using stop loss.

  15. Their lawyers must be lying then

    raymond, when the attorney for one party says that the other party is wrong, that’s not evidence. It’s not even interesting information. The government’s lawyers say that it was part of the contract and the plaintiffs’ lawyers say it wasn’t; it is a given that at least one of the sides is either mistaken or actively lying.

    Anyway, if Klimanski is right, and stop-loss was in fact not part of the contract, then it would indeed be wrong to keep those soldiers past the point at which their contract expired. But it’s a bit silly to assume that Klimanski’s telling the truth.

    When I joined the Marine Corps in 1998, NO ONE knew or explained or even mentioned this.

    Isn’t the relevant question whether or not it was in your contract, not whether or not they told you about it?

  16. Their lawyers must be lying then.

    Stop the friggin’ presses.

  17. There are a couple forms of stop-loss at hand here:

    The first being that which keeps a recruit in the active/active reserve component longer than was orginally specified. All enlistment contracts are for eight years. Contracts differ on the amount of active(six years in the reserves, two or more on active duty) versus inactive ready reserve(IRR) time. It clearly states in the contract that Uncle Sam won’t release you until those eight years are up. There has also been some controversy about IRR members not showing up when called…

    The second type of stop loss is clearly illegal in that it is like the case above Raymond mentioned and another one which I believe an Arkansas national guardsman had in which the military tries to keep you beyond the orginal eight year commitment due to you being in theater when your contract ends. For example your contract(all eight years) is up on December 2nd 2004 but your unit is not redeploying home until March 2nd 2005. Even though your contract states you no longer have an obligation the Service makes you stay with your unit until they come home.

    In the case of those bastard officers like myself. The military owns you until you resign your commission in writing or you turn 62 whichever comes first. This isn’t as simple as writing a letter and you are out. In most cases officers owe four to six years after they come out of a service academy, OCS, or ROTC. Additionally there may be other contractual obligations for aviation service. After that obligation is up an officer can resign his commission in writing, recently though there have been several cases of the resignation letter being lost (imagine that), and several officers being recalled to active duty due to what thye say was a paperwork error.

    In most cases the fine print of the eight year contract is not explained to a recruit until after they have already made up there mind and by the time they have signed the twenty other things leading up to it they aren’t paying attention anymore. Of course as was stated earlier stop-loss can be avoided by not joining the military at all.

    Given the level of sophistication of our military today a traditional draft would never work so the best method to keep troop levels at 100% is to keep those you already have or to draft people out of specific fields who already have the training.

    (“longest post ever”, comic book guy)

  18. Trooper J:

    The ARNG “try one contract” is just for one year.
    This is a one year contract for soldiers coming off active duty or who have prior service experience but have been out awhile…

    However, a soldier who enlisted under it and was kept longer than his enlistment recently lost a stop loss case in California.

  19. to be a bit more clear. Your first military service contract is always for eight years. Contracts which are signed later may be for less time. Officers do not have contracts after they meet their intial service obligation.

  20. Well, Dan, as I said, I’m sure the lawyer has got it all wrong and that when he affirms

    Doe’s standard enlistment contract, in a section intended to summarize relevant “existing United States Laws,” indicates that involuntary extensions of service are permitted only under the following conditions: 1) during a period of declared war; 2) during a war or national emergency declared by Congress; or 3) where a servicemember is not assigned to, or participating satisfactorily in, a unit of the Ready Reserve and has been ordered to active duty. ?None of these conditions apply.

    it’s not relevant or even interesting.

    Sorry I brought it up.

    Isn’t the relevant question whether or not it was in your contract, not whether or not they told you about it?

    Do you know a lot of 18yo kids?

  21. On the other hand, if you want to say “we’re at war” and mobilize your reserves you might want to declare war and have everybody in for the duration.

    This is an interesting point. A formal declaration of war would be a reasonable triggering mechanism for stop loss (as well as-go ahead and hate me-conscription if necessary), ensuring that there will be a definite end to your service without tying the state to a particular date. Which brings us back to a first principle: That the framers intentionally made declaration of war a hard thing to get, and that Harry Truman is rotting in hell for ushering in the age of police actions, war powers, use-of-force authorizations, and all the other methods they’ve found to bastardize the concept of “Letters of Marque and Reprisal.”

    Trooper Jones is to be commended not only for his service but for acknowledging that a) stop-loss is indeed part of the contract, b) recruiters have an ethical responsibility to make that clear to enlistees, even if they don’t have a legal responsibility, and c) there is a doing-the-right-thing dimension at work here that doesn’t disappear because of Josh’s eyerolling or Dan’s kneejerk dismissals. (Whether there’s much of a legal dimension is another matter, though I’d doubt it.)

  22. Perhaps the Marines I served with had particularly bad recruiting experiences.

    Officers, so I’ve been told, do not have the same problems with dishonest recruiters/recruiting practices that the enlisted do. There are a number of reasons for this (education and smaller need for numbers chief among them), but the more important point is that officers rarely take seriously the claim that we the enlisted were duped.

    An argument to consider is not simply that recruiters stretch the truth or try to play games of misdirection, e.g. “who cares about stop-losses when you’re getting money for college?”, the point is they will outright lie. Recruiters are notorious for saying that stop-losses don’t won’t affect your MOS (and that they can get it guaranteed in writing), it’s merely a formality, there’s no chance they’ll EVER call you back from the IRR, etc.

    In fact, a law was passed (the year escapes me) because Marine volunteers were signing up for MOS’s like cooks or admin or supply and were told they were infantry upon reporting to basic training. This sort of bait-and-switch is patently unethical and unfair. Given that, is there really a significant difference between this and what the Marines from my old unit now fighting as grunts with no training face?

    People generally ask “and you believe those military rectuiters?” The long and short is despite certain gut-instinct hesitations about the validity of some of their promises, it’s difficult for a young man or woman who admires the Marine Corps (or Army or whichever service) to not take seriously a recruiter in full-dress uniform bearing down upon them. They are quite literally enchanted at times and when not spellbound, certainly motivated by some respect-based fear. A third party present during the recruiting process is enormously beneficial.

    I really am not trying to be a blame shifting dbag here. My larger point is that the process, as its set-up now, allows itself to abused by both recruiters and eager volunteers alike.

    As we have seen, disorder and misfortune (aside from legal wranglings) often arise from such a mix.

  23. it’s not relevant or even interesting

    That’s correct. You’re quoting a man who is being paid to, regardless of what the evidence may be, do everything legally possible to make people believe that his side is in the right. Only an idiot would accept his claims at face value. You can quote him all you like; it won’t change the fact that it’s remarkably unintelligent to just assume that a plaintiff’s attorney is being honest with you.

    Do you know a lot of 18yo kids?

    If your point is that many 18 year olds tend to do things without considering the consequences, I agree. That’s not relevant, though; they are capable of informing themselves and making rational choices, even if many of them don’t do so. I’m sure Luke’s right and the recruiters try a bunch of bullshit lines to get people to not see what they’re signing up for. But the world is full of people trying to sell you a line of bullshit, and it’s not as if it’s impossible for an 18-year-old to realize that.

  24. But the world is full of people trying to sell you a line of bullshit

    Yes, and few of them have the full powers of the state to detain, imprison and (as recently as WWII) kill you if you make a wrong decision.

  25. I got extended unvoluntarily in 1966 ,Pleiku , SVN.
    My orders were stamped “convience of the Government”.
    Weren`t any Lawyers hanging around to complain to.Kinda hard to leave when “they” got all the transportation monopolized.

  26. Yes, and few of them have the full powers of the state to detain, imprison and (as recently as WWII) kill you if you make a wrong decision.

    So far as I’m aware the power of the state that applies here is their power to punish people who refuse to honor voluntary contracts — which is one of the few powers that libertarians agree the government should have. I am not aware of any sort of blanket right to tear up a contract, months or years after the fact, when you discover you don’t like the provisions it contains.

  27. “Their lawyers must be lying then.”

    I see I’m a little late to this one, very cute raymond. Next time I sign anything I’m getting a fucking lawyer.

  28. Next time I sign anything I’m getting a … lawyer.

    I wouldn’t bother. He’ll only break your heart.

    ——-
    Only an idiot…

    You use this argument quite regularly, it seems to me. Do you have a lot of success with it in the real world?

    The brief gives the terms of the contract. Since I was unable to find the “Try One” contract itself online… Oh well. I’ve already apologised to you for that.

    But the world is full of people trying to sell you a line of bullshit…

    And they use legal contracts to do it, too.

    On an earlier version of this thread, I mentioned “bonded labour”. Nobody responded (It was late in the thread, and my already famous idiot-ness probably made responding seem like a waste of time), so I’ll revisit the idea.

    (“You” here refers to all those who have, in the past week, defended things like torture and stop-loss. You have all melted together into a blur in my tiny little mind.)

    You have argued that the Declaration of Independence is utopian pie in the sky, and that there is no such thing as a fundamental human right.

    You have argued that the Constitution is not worth the paper it’s written on.

    You have argued that the State is the source of any “rights” we might possess.

    You have argued that a contract is a contract and so is binding in all cases whatsoever.

    You have argued “that it is advantageous for us that one man should die for the people, that the whole nation not perish.”

    So enlighten me.

    Some idiot Indian peasant borrows 50 rupees because his family is starving, not realising that the terms of the contract are such that he will be paying off this loan till he dies. (And that by contract his descendants will also be liable.)

    Since “the world is full of people trying to sell you a line of bullshit, and it’s not as if it’s impossible for an [Indian peasant] to realize that”, and since property is like WOW and this peasant’s labour is property legally owned by the lender, do you defend the practise of bonded labour?

    And if you do not, why do you defend the practise of bonded labour when it comes to soldiers?

    After having served 12 months, some of which included a rotation in Camp Taji, an area 15 miles north of Baghdad notorious for being a target of suicide attacks against U.S. troops, Qualls discovered that his service had been extended against his wishes. A pay stub from the period recorded his Expiration Term of Service as “December 24, 2031.” (UPI)

    December 24, 2031.

    HEY! He’ll be home for CHRISTMAS!!!

  29. This stop-loss is bad for the troops in terms of MOS efficiency, bad for mission accomplishment in Iraq, bad for long-term recruiting and enlisted retention, and awful for morale.

    all legality aside — because legal wrangling won’t keep a volunteer army a viable proposition — the DoD should think about how they come out here in the view of their potential recruiting base.

    given all this — the duplicity (real or perceived, it matters not a jot) of recruiters, the foaming-mouth foreign policy — you cannot argue that recruiting will get easier, or that the quality of recruits will increase or even remain level.

    how desperate need one be to want to be affiliated with rumsfeld’s operation?

  30. That’s not relevant, though; they are capable of informing themselves and making rational choices, even if many of them don’t do so. I’m sure Luke’s right and the recruiters try a bunch of bullshit lines to get people to not see what they’re signing up for. But the world is full of people trying to sell you a line of bullshit, and it’s not as if it’s impossible for an 18-year-old to realize that.

    indeed, mr dan, even in your nihilistic outlook, the problem remains that they might do just that — and the irrational opinion they may retain en masse is that the army can in no way be considered an option.

  31. I just heard on the news that the judge has refused to grant the injunction or whatever, and that Qualls is on his way to Iraq.

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