Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Arizona Soldier Fights 'Stop Loss'

An Arizona National Guard soldier is among the 8 challenging the Army's "stop loss" policy. The soldier, whose name has been kept secret due to fear of retribution by the military, has already completed his tour, but is being forced to prolong his service in Iraq beyond the period he contracted for. Many consider this a backdoor draft, and decry the impact on soldier's families and on the soldier's life plans and carreer plans, post-military. Of course, extending soldiers' tours in Iraq also exposes them to additional and escallating risk and a great deal of stress. The New York Times describes the Arizona soldier as despondent over his inability to return home to his family as planned.

I am making an assumption, which could be incorrect, that the Arizonan is the the soldier referred to in the complaint as John Doe 5 (JD5), because he is one of only three in the National Guard, and the other Guardsmen, John Does 1 and 2, either enlisted in Texas (1) or trained in the New York City Police Academy (2), making their stories inconsistent with residence in Arizona, while none of the biographical information given for JD5 is inconsistent with Arizona residence.

Assuming my deduction is correct, it is easy to see why JD5 is dispondent over being unable to return to his family. JD5 is on his second marriage and has two children. JD5's first wife was brutally murdered at home with the children in the house. The anniversary of their mother's death is coming in January and he wants to be there for his children. As well, his new wife and oldest child are both apparently suffering depression or other emotional trauma as a result of their separation, both being on anti-depressants. The man's family obviously needs him.

JD5 joined the Guard following 9/11 on a 3 year enlistment which expired in October 2004. Before he departed for home his was informed that his enlistment was being unilaterally extended under the Stop Loss policy, first implemented when Dick Cheney was Secretary of Defense during the first Gulf War. The policy derives from 10 U.S.C ยง12305 (a) which provides that "the President may suspend any provision of law relating to promotion, retirement, of separation applicable to any member of the armed for forces..." In fact, the President used the power granted therein to issue an Executive Order immediately following 9/11 concerning calling up the Ready Reserve. The Order activates several provisions of Title 10 and 14 which allow the President to recall and retain military personnel in national emergencies.

Call it what you will, I call it a draft. The shamefull part of it, is that what was intended to allow response to a national emergency or an armed attack on the U.S. is being used to fight an aggressive and discretionary war. The fact the Congress is not objecting to the misuse of these provisions is scandalous. I recognize that the Administration is on fairly firm legal ground. The courts may decide to punt this football, as the so often do with foreign and military affairs, as a political question, or one constitutionally assigned to one of the other branches of government. The only relief these soldiers are likely to obtain come from us, the citizens, getting fed up with their mistreatment. Unfortunately, some 59 million of us seem to be just fine with everything the Bush Administration has done so far using the excuse of national security.


At 9:47 AM, Blogger Tiny Montgomery said...

Calling it what I will, I call it "conscription": conscription: compulsory military service

A draft is the mandantory call to military service for young men. All 18 year old males are required to register with the Selective Service, which maintains records of your availability to serve in the military. It takes an act of Congress to reinstate the draft.

A draft would be a far more equitable solution to this problem but that would require an act of Congress. Come to think of it, wouldn't a war against Iraq require a declaration of war by Congress? Why don't politicians uphold the Constitution they swore on a Bible to uphold?


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