Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Stop-Loss Orders Challenged

The military's so-called "stop-loss" orders allow the military to demand that reservists serve beyond their term of enlistment. It has been used as recently as June as a result of the waning support for the war in Iraq (and the subsequent decline in recruitment and re-enlistment.) This process, criticized as a "back-door draft," is being challenged in San Francisco court today on behalf of an Army recruit who served for 9 years, most recently in Iraq, and then signed up for a 1 year term in the reserves. Under the stop-loss orders, he could be made "to return to Iraq for up to two years, and possible continued military service beyond that time." According to the lawyer bringing the suit:

This lawsuit seeks to stop the forced retention of men and women like [the plaintiff] who have already fulfilled their service obligations to the country. Their enlistments should have ended, and they should now be entitled to return to their families.
Democracy Now reports that a 57-yearold Vietnam veteran named Luis McCallen has been called up using this "backdoor draft." He has skin cancer, high blood pressure and is partially deaf but because he is still registered in the Individual Ready Reserve, if he doesn't report for duty on September 15, he could face jailtime. Says McCallen:

If I have to go I’ll go, I’m no coward, my only concern is my skin cancer and my age, I’m pushing 58, I'm an old dingbat.
Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa recently came out strongly against the stop-loss orders after a constituent, Des Moines police officer Rodell Nydam, was called up after finishing his National Guard commitment in April. He said Nydam is needed here at home as a first responder to protect the community. He called on Bush to end the "backdoor draft", stating:
This is the result of President Bush's go-it-alone approach and his failure to plan for any kind of postwar period in Iraq. ... It has stressed our armed forces to the limit...The part of the U.S. code that provides for this anticipates major wars, major national emergencies. That is not what we're confronting right now. You think about using this law only in (extreme cases), only when we're really in dire, dire need.

He also used the opportunity to slam Dick Cheney for his criticism of Kerry's comments about how he would wage the war on terror (see post from Aug 16). Senator Harkin said:

When I hear this coming from Dick Cheney, who was a coward, who would not serve during the Vietnam War, it makes my blood boil. ...Those of us who served and those of us who went in the military don't like it when someone like a Dick Cheney comes out and he wants to be tough. Yeah, he'll be tough. He'll be tough
with somebody else's blood, somebody else's kids. But not when it was his turn to go.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi. Quick correction: the 57 year old being called up is named "Luis Jaime Trevino" of McAllen, Texas.


1:12 AM  

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