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The Pentagon has not started complying with a law requiring the payment of monthly bonuses of up to $500 to soldiers forced to remain on active duty beyond their enlistment, USA Today reported Monday.

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman acknowledged the five-month delay and said the Defense Department is working on a plan to start paying the almost 13,000 soldiers currently under the Army’s stop-loss orders, USA Today reported, adding that although Defense Secretary Robert Gates wants to end the policy, the number of soldiers affected has risen since the middle of 2007.

Congress added $72 million to pay for the bonuses in its plan for the budget year that started Oct. 1, the paper noted. The money was to be paid after the Pentagon submitted a plan outlining how the payments would be made.

But no plan has been provided, Rob Blumenthal, a spokesman for the Senate Appropriations Committee, told USA Today.

"It is unacceptable that the [DOD] has failed to construct a plan for issuing these payments," said Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., who chairs the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense.

Since 2002, the military has relied on stop loss to keep its most skilled and experienced troops in the service. The Army is the only service that has used it in the past five years, according to a Congressional Research Service report released last month. The number of soldiers affected by stop loss peaked at 15,758 in 2005, USA Today reported.


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