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(See end of story for list of who's affected by the lifting of stop loss and who isn't)

ARLINGTON, Va. — The Army has formally lifted stop loss restrictions for active duty units and for soldiers in about half of the specialties that had been required to stay on active duty.

The stop-loss lift, which was expected, will unlock the “exit” door for about 16,000 active duty soldiers who were scheduled to leave the Army but couldn’t because they were under restrictions, according to Army spokesman Lt. Col. Stan Heath.

Another 4,900 Army Reserve and 675 National Guard soldiers with restricted skills who were frozen in place can also leave between now and October, Heath said.

The Army’s Assistant Secretary for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, Reginald J. Brown, formally approved the measure Tuesday but the Army did not announce the move until Thursday night.

The change has been expected since May 14, when the Army announced a phased lift to its stop-movement order that came down in early January and affected active-duty soldiers whose units are part of the war plan involving Iraq.

Stop-loss prevents servicemembers from retiring or leaving the service at their scheduled time, while stop movements mostly prevents permanent changes of station (PCS) moves.

The Army has had five increments of stop loss since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, including stop losses in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Noble Eagle and Operation Enduring Freedom; a stop loss that affects both active and reserve soldiers in particular occupational specialties (MOSs); and one that affected any Ready Reserve soldier whose unit was alerted or deployed.

The Army reserve units are not affected by Thursday’s lift. That population will be handled in a separately in an action whose time frame Heath said he could not estimate.

The skills-based portion of Thursday’s lift unfreezes 11 enlisted, 10 warrant, and seven officer MOSs. The field with the most releases in every grade is the “18s,” or Special Forces.

The precise number is classified, but analysts believe between 10,000 and 12,000 special operations forces were involved in OIF. That includes personnel from all services, such as SEALs, but most special operations personnel are from the Army.

Meanwhile, there are still 13 enlisted soldier specialties under stop loss, including Explosives Ordnance Detection, military police and mortuary specialists.

Eight officer specialties are still restricted, including MPs and intelligence specialists. Six warrant officer specialties remain affected, as well, helicopter pilots in particular.

Heath said that the Army has not yet calculated the number of soldiers who are still frozen in place under stop loss. It’s a difficult figure to tally, Heath said Friday, “Because it’s a rolling calculation — the numbers [of soldiers scheduled to leave the service] change every month.”

All four services imposed stop losses after Sept. 11, most of which have recently been either eliminated totally or drastically rolled back.

The Marine Corps issued a corps-wide stop loss lift on May 12. On May 14, Air Force officials lifted stop loss restrictions on 6,000 airmen who are in 31 officer career fields and 20 enlisted career fields. About 15,000 airmen remain restricted. And on May 15, the Navy lifted restrictions on its last stop loss group, enlisted hospital corpsmen.

Who's affected, who's not ...

Soldiers in the following specialties are now no longer subject to stop loss:

Officers

15C35 (Aviation Intelligence)

Additional Skill Identifier (ASI) K4 (Special Operations Aviation), K5 (MH-60K Pilot), and/or K6 (H-47E Pilot)

18 (Special Forces)

38 (Civil Affairs)

39 (Psychological Operations)

Warrant Officers

153E (MH-60 Pilot)

154E (MH-47 Pilot)

155E (C-12 Pilot)

155G (O-5A/EO-5B/RC-7 Pilot)

Pilots with ASI K4 (Special Operations Aviation), K5 (MH-60K Pilot, and/or K6 H-47E Pilot)

180A (Special Forces)

350B (Intelligence Technician)

351C (Area Intelligence Technician)

352G (Voice Intercept Technician)

Enlisted

00Z (Command Sergeant Major with Special Forces (SF) background)

18B (SF Weapons Sergeant)

18C (SF Engineer Sergeant)

18D (SF Medical Sergeant)

18E (SF Communications Sergeant)

18F (SF Operations and Intelligence Sergeant)

18Z (SF Senior Sergeant)

37F (Psychological Operations Specialist)

38A (Civil Affairs Specialist)

67U (CH-47 Helicopter Repairer)

98C (Signals Intelligence Analyst)

¶ MOSs for all components (active, reserve, NG) that are still under the skills-based stop loss restriction:

Officers

30 Information Operations

31 Military Police

34 Strategic Intelligence

35 Military Intelligence

45A Comptroller

48G Foreign Area Officer (Mideast/N Africa)

51C Contract & Industrial Management

53 Information Systems Management

Warrant Officers

152C OH-6 Scout Pilot

153D UH-60 Pilot

154C CH-47D Pilot

311A CID Special Agent

351B Counter Intelligence Technician

351E Human Intelligence Collection Technician

Enlisted

52E Prime Power Production Specialist

55D Explosives Ordnance Detection (EOD) Specialist

74B Information Systems Operator

92M Mortuary Affairs Specialist

95B Military Police

95C Correctional Specialist

95D CID Special Agent

96B Intelligence Analyst

96U UAV Operator

97B Counter Intelligence Agent

97E Human Intelligence Collector

97L Translator (Minus Russian and Spanish)

98G Voice Interceptor (Language Specific)

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