Stop-Loss Disinformation

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The New York Times ran an editorial this week, criticizing the use of stop-loss by our military leaders to extend tours of duty of our soldiers beyond their original terms. That is, instead of serving in Iraq for a year as scheduled, someone could serve two years, or longer.

Kerry has picked up this mantle, calling the use of stop-loss a "backdoor draft."

The Times editorial, by a former Army captain, Andrew Exum, said, "In essence, they will no longer be voluntarily serving their country." The problem is, Exum and Kerry are lying.

When you sign up for the military, you agree to serve for a certain amount of time, with the possibility of it being extended. If your term is not extended, you can't leave before it is over. If it is extended, you can't leave before it is over. Either way, you are stuck there for the duration of your term, whatever it is, and you agreed to the possibility that it could be extended.

Let there be no mistake: a soldier whose term is extended under stop loss is serving just as voluntarily as one who is not, if the agreements they signed up under have any meaning.

I understand the frustration, but misrepresenting the facts don't make you look good. Exum writes of his former comrades who served in Afghanistan and Kuwait and are now headed to Iraq, "To a man, they felt a sense of hopelessness -- they know they have little say over their future until the Army releases them." But they knew that before they signed on the dotted line, too.

Exum shows his lack of objectivity -- or understanding -- when he concludes with a screed about eleciton-year politics. "The Pentagon uses these policies to meet its needs in Iraq because they are expedient and ask nothing of the civilian populace on the eve of a national election." No, they use this policy because it is the only method that they have at their disposal to provide the troops they need. There is no other option.

He follows it up with, "This allows us to put off what is sure to be a difficult debate: whether our volunteer military is adequate to meet our foreign policy commitments." Funny, I thought the use of stop-loss was actually encouraging that debate. But Exum is too busy whining about how unfair it is, to notice.

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