Air Force, Navy move to keep service members on the job

The Air Force and Navy moved quickly to invoke their "stop-loss" programs following Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's Sept. 19 delegation of authority to the heads of the military departments.

The Air Force has already implemented a stop-loss policy that will affect airmen for a one-month period beginning Oct. 2. Air Force officials will re-evaluate the situation at the end of that month.

The Navy will implement a limited program Oct. 10 affecting about 10,500 sailors in 11 specialties.

Stop-loss allows the Defense Department to involuntarily extend military members on active duty. Those subject to the order cannot retire or separate from the service. Exemptions include members being involuntarily discharged and those waived by their services because of specific circumstances.

Stop-loss also "freezes" reserve component personnel's status if they are currently on active duty or are called up in the future. For example, a reserve component member could not move to an inactive status.

The Army is not implementing stop-loss at this time. The Marine Corps is still working on its program and will announce it later. Coast Guard stop-loss plans are handled through the Transportation Department.

Stop-loss was invoked a decade ago for the Gulf War and in 1999 during Operation Allied Force over Yugoslavia. The authority to delegate stop-loss to the defense secretary was part of a 1990 presidential executive order still valid today.

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