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12/30/2003 Archived Entry: ""

Cartoon of the Day: Jack Ohman's "Halliburton Provides Pipelines".

At last the story is getting attention. For months, the Pentagon has been using "stop-loss" orders to prevent military and National Guard from leaving at the completion of their duties. Their retirements are simply and unilaterally "cancelled" and their Army paychecks list the expiration date of their military service as "sometime after 2030." The Washington Post, in an article entitled "Army stops many soldiers from quitting," explained, "Through a series of stop-loss orders, the Army alone has blocked the possible retirements and departures of more than 40,000 soldiers, about 16,000 of them National Guard and reserve members who were eligible to leave the service this year." The story continues, "By prohibiting soldiers and officers from leaving the service at retirement or the expiration of their contracts, military leaders have breached the Army's manpower limit of 480,000 troops, a ceiling set by Congress. In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee last month, Gen. Peter Schoomaker, the Army chief of staff, disclosed that the number of active-duty soldiers has crept over the congressionally authorized maximum by 20,000 and now registered 500,000 as a result of stop-loss orders." (This is Bush's unsubtle way of maintaining a strong military without instituting a pesky draft that could jeopardize both his popularity and prospects of re-election.)

Other papers are reprinting the WP story and some are finally giving their own commentary on what should be a national hue and cry against "a draft by any other name." The Denver Post reports on one impact: people don't want to enlist in a National Guard from which it is not possible to leave after theirs terms are up. "The situation has gotten the attention of Congress. Many members fear that unless the active-duty military's ranks are increased, the trickle of soldiers out of the reserves will become an exodus."

Bloody Hell...I wanted to say so much more about this but I've received email that requires me to focus on *real* work. I am a victim of capitalism.

Best to all,

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