This article by Meghann Myers, Shawn Snow, Kyle Rempfer, and Andrew Tilghman was originally published by the Military Times
Pentagon officials say they hope to avoid any “stop-loss” orders that would involuntarily keep service members in uniform beyond their current contracts. But that may be necessary if the coronavirus pandemic continues to limit the Defense Department’s ability to recruit and train new troops.
A stop-loss policy, which was widely used at the peak of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, could temporarily halt some or all troops from separating and transitioning back into the civilian world.
The policy was often criticized as a “back-door draft” that erodes the trust of service members and can threaten the military’s long-term ability to recruit and retain service members.
The service branches have already begun offering to voluntarily extend contracts for some service members, but some involuntary measures may be needed, the Pentagon said.
“Given the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the nation as a whole and on the military’s ability to recruit and train new service members, the Department is looking at a wide range of options that will ensure enduring national security mission capability,” Lisa Lawrence, a Pentagon spokeswoman, told Military Times.