U.S. military to stop holding troops beyond enlistment
The U.S. military will phase out its "stop-loss" program, the contentious practice of holding troops beyond the end of their enlistments, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates announced Wednesday, Xinhua reported.
Speaking at a Pentagon presser, he said the program will be basically terminated within two years and soldiers affected by it will receive a bonus while they are in extended service.
The U.S. military used the "stop-loss" policy during Operation Desert Shield in 1990 and reinstated it after the 9/11 attacks in 2001, in order to maintain a large fighting for Afghanistan and Iraq.
Some 185,000 troops had been served beyond their enlistments by an average of 5 to 8 months since then.
As of January, 13,217 soldiers were still under the "stop-loss" policy.
Currently, the U.S. Army is the only service that uses the stop-loss program.