PURITAN NEWS WEEKLY
DRAFTED IN ALL
J. Parnell McCarter
a society fails to honor its covenants with God, it eventually fails to honor
its covenants among men. Hence, we find
in America widespread divorce. Here is
simply the latest act of not honoring contracts, from an article at http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A36979-2003Dec28?language=printer
Stops Many Soldiers From Quitting
Orders Extend Enlistments to Curtail Troop
By Lee Hockstader
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, December 29, 2003; Page A01
Chief Warrant Officer Ronald Eagle, an
expert on enemy targeting, served 20 years in the military -- 10 years of
active duty in the Air Force, another 10 in the West Virginia National Guard.
Then he decided enough was enough. He owned a promising new
aircraft-maintenance business, and it needed his attention. His retirement date
was set for last February.
Staff Sgt. Justin Fontaine, a generator mechanic, enrolled in the
Massachusetts National Guard out of high school and served nearly nine years.
In preparation for his exit date last March, he turned in his field gear -- his
rucksack and web belt, his uniforms and canteen.
Staff Sgt. Peter G. Costas, an interrogator in an intelligence unit,
joined the Army Reserve in 1991, extended his enlistment in 1999 and then
re-upped for three years in 2000. Costas, a U.S. Border Patrol officer in
Texas, was due to retire from the reserves in last May.
According to their contracts, expectations and desires, all three
soldiers should have been civilians by now. But Fontaine and Costas are
currently serving in Iraq, and Eagle has just been deployed. On their Army
paychecks, the expiration date of their military service is now listed sometime
after 2030 -- the payroll computer's way of saying, "Who knows?"
The three are among thousands of soldiers forbidden to leave military
service under the Army's "stop-loss" orders, intended to stanch the
seepage of troops, through retirement and discharge, from a military stretched
thin by its burgeoning overseas missions.
"It reflects the fact that the military is too small, which
nobody wants to admit," said Charles Moskos of Northwestern University, a
leading military sociologist.
To the Pentagon, stop-loss orders are a finger in the dike -- a tool
to halt the hemorrhage of personnel, and maximize cohesion and experience, for
units in the field in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. Through a series of
stop-loss orders, the Army alone has blocked the possible retirements and
departures of more than 40,000 soldiers, about 16,000 of them National Guard
and reserve members who were eligible to leave the service this year. Hundreds
more in the Air Force, Navy and Marines were briefly blocked from retiring or
departing the military at some point this year.
By prohibiting soldiers and officers from leaving the service at retirement
or the expiration of their contracts, military leaders have breached the Army's
manpower limit of 480,000 troops, a ceiling set by Congress. In testimony
before the Senate Armed Services Committee last month, Gen. Peter Schoomaker,
the Army chief of staff, disclosed that the number of active-duty soldiers has
crept over the congressionally authorized maximum by 20,000 and now registered
500,000 as a result of stop-loss orders. Several lawmakers questioned the
legality of exceeding the limit by so much…
More frequently, the military response to griping about stop-loss is
bluntly unsympathetic. "We're all soldiers. We go where were told,"
said Maj. Steve Stover, an Army spokesman. "Fair has nothing to do with