Stop loss set for Army units preparing to deploy to Iraq and Afghanistan
ARLINGTON, Va. — For the second time this year, the Army is imposing a stop-loss/stop-movement order on all active-duty units preparing to deploy into Iraq and Afghanistan — this time, to serve in the second major rotations of operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, service officials said Monday.
The unit stop loss affects the active units that Pentagon officials said Nov. 7 have been alerted for deployment to OEF 2 and OIF 2.
In Europe, those include the 2nd and 3rd brigades of the Würzburg, Germany-based 1st Infantry Division (the 2nd Brigade is headquartered in Schweinfurt, while the 3rd Brigade is headquartered at Rose Barracks, Vilseck), and elements of the 1st ID’s 4th Brigade, headquartered in Katterbach. All of those units are bound for Iraq.
In Afghanistan, the 10th Mountain Division is to be replaced by the U.S.-based 25th Infantry Division with some Marines from the 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment from the 2nd Marine Division.
Stop-loss restrictions prevent servicemembers from retiring or leaving the service at their scheduled time, while stop movements prevent permanent changes of station (PCS) moves.
The new unit stop-loss orders, approved over the weekend by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, places active-duty soldiers in the same boat as the Army Reserve and National Guard units now in Iraq and Afghanistan.
With war in Iraq imminent in January, the Army placed unit stop-loss/stop-movement restrictions on all soldiers deploying to the Middle East, both active and reserves.
That order was lifted for active units May 29 — but not for reserve units, whom officials said would be dealt with “at a later time.”
The Army’s new decision to place active soldiers on a unit stop loss, too, “provides equity for all components and ensures unit stability from alert through redeployment/demobilization,” according to a draft version of the Army’s stop-loss press release obtained by Stars and Stripes.
Monday’s new orders also lift restrictions on the only two remaining skill sets under an Armywide skills-based stop loss: for officers, 53, Information Systems Management; for enlisted soldiers, 55D, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Specialist.
The skill-set stop loss lift will permit approximately 100 active Army soldiers, 204 Army Reserve members, and 304 National Guard soldiers to leave the service, Army officials said.
The unit stop loss begins at “deployment minus 90 days,” or 90 days from the date the unit is expected to arrive in Iraq, lasts through the entire deployment, and then extends for another 90 days after the unit’s return home, Army officials said.
Soldiers in active Army units already deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan are not included in the new stop loss.
The stop loss does not apply to active Army soldiers who are on terminal leave; those who have already shipped household goods in preparation for their transition from service; or those who are within 14 days of their permanent separation date, Army officials said.
Army officials also reserved the right to make exceptions to the stop loss “for compelling reasons.”
“Due to operational sensitivities,” Army officials would not say how many soldiers are going to be affected by the unit stop loss.
All of the services have had stop loss in place in various forms since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, but the Army is the only service that currently has an active stop-loss program.
In the Navy and Marine Corps, there are no immediate plans to impose a new stop loss, service officials said Monday.
Nor are there any impending plans in the Air Force to impose new stop-loss restrictions, spokeswoman Jennifer Stephens said Monday.
— Sandra Jontz contributed to this report from Washington.