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McCain Adviser Ralph Peters: Military Strain From Stop-Loss Policies Is ‘A Myth Of The Left’

By Amanda Terkel  

"McCain Adviser Ralph Peters: Military Strain From Stop-Loss Policies Is ‘A Myth Of The Left’"

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On Sept. 14, 2001, President Bush issued Executive Order 13223, allowing the administration to implement a “stop-loss” policy. Under stop-loss, “military personnel can be prevented from leaving the armed forces upon completing their enlistment terms.” Stop-loss policies were created after the Vietnam War. However, the Bush administration has overstretched the military by extensively using these orders to make up for declines in re-enlistment as the Iraq war drags on.

Yesterday on PBS’s Newshour, ret. Lt. Col. Ralph Peters — who now advises Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) presidential campaign on national security affairs — called the dangers of stop-loss policies a “myth of the left.” “Stop-loss is old,” said Peters. “This is not a new thing. In time of crisis, soldiers can be extended. They know it.”

Peters was sharply rebutted by Bobby Muller, president of Veterans for America, who pointed out that many high-ranking military officials have also warned that the Bush administration’s policies are overstretching the armed forces:

BOBBY MULLER: You might think that Bobby Muller is parroting myths created by the left in this country when I talk about stop-loss, but Colin Powell is not parroting any left-wing fantasies. General Casey, General Cody, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Admiral Mullen, they’re on record. This is not sustainable. There are people being held…

RALPH PETERS: But that’s a different issue.

BOBBY MULLER: I suggest that you may be out of touch with the military today if you think that all of these people that sign up for four years or five years of active military duty really expected — just like the National Guard — that they would wind up being extended for, additionally, a couple of years beyond their contract period?

No, sir, they’re not expecting that.

Watch it:

[flv http://video.thinkprogress.org/2008/04/peterspbs34234.320.240.flv]

Yesterday, Bush finally announced that he would be “cutting Army combat tours in Iraq from 15 months to 12 months.” This move came after months of warnings from his top military advisers. “The current demand for our forces exceeds the sustainable supply,” Army Chief of Staff George Casey said back in September. This week, Joint Chiefs Chairman Mike Mullen noted he was “very public for many months that we need to get off 15 month deployments as fast as we can.” In July 2007, Gen. Colin Powell also observed, “[T]hey probably can’t keep this up at this level past the middle of next year, I would guess. This is a tremendous burden on our troops.”

If Peters believes that there is nothing wrong with stop-loss, is he advising McCain to sustain this policy…perhaps for 100 years?

Digg It!

Transcript:

BOBBY MULLER: Which means — let me finish — if you were going to — if you serve five years, and you were going to get out in two weeks, and you’re stop-lossed, with a March 27th drop-dead date, that means at a minimum you’ve got three more months before your unit redeploys, you’ve got a 12-month now deployment, you’ve got three months when you come back.

You’re tacking two years on to people who had served five and thought they were getting — they were going to be released from service. It’s a fundamental violation, so don’t talk to me about the damage that’s being done, because it’s severe.

RALPH PETERS: You’ve got to be honest in the math. Now, I just don’t believe that every soldier in 4th Infantry Division is stop-lossed. Prove it, and I’m willing to say it.

BOBBY MULLER: OK…

RALPH PETERS: But wait, wait, now my turn now. But let’s be honest about stop-loss. This is sort of a myth of the left.

Every soldier who signs up, as you know, has an up to eight-year reserve commitment. The recruiter made that plain to me when I signed up as a private. I would serve — I was supposed to serve three years active-duty, but they could call on me for eight years.

As an officer, I could be called back to duty tonight. It’s endless, although I’d be more trouble than I’m worth.

Stop-loss is old. This is not a new thing. In time of crisis, soldiers can be extended. They know it.

And I’m really tired of people telling all the bad stuff about the military when our soldiers really believe what they’re doing.

And I spend time with our soldiers. I was just down at Fort Bragg with the special forces this week. Last month, I was out with the Marines at Miramar and Pendleton. And these people believe in the cause; they believe in what they’re doing. They love the service. Not everybody is bitter. [...]

BOBBY MULLER: You might think that Bobby Muller is parroting myths created by the left in this country when I talk about stop-loss, but Colin Powell is not parroting any left-wing fantasies. General Casey, General Cody, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Admiral Mullen, they’re on record. This is not sustainable. There are people being held…

RALPH PETERS: But that’s a different issue.

BOBBY MULLER: I suggest that you may be out of touch with the military today if you think that all of these people that sign up for four years or five years of active military duty really expected — just like the National Guard — that they would wind up being extended for, additionally, a couple of years beyond their contract period?

No, sir, they’re not expecting that. They’re not reading the fine print. The recruiters are not saying that. The recruiters, in fact, are telling National Guard, “You serve one year overseas, you’re going to be given five years at home.” They’ve violated that; they’re not doing that.

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misshusseinmolly Says: “Lemme get this straight — our soldiers are excited about being stop-lossed, they love their work in Iraq and Afghanistan, they enjoy being exploited for political purposes, they don’t mind being away from their families, they’re caught up in ‘the romance and the glory’ of the fighting, they think that getting shot at is the ultimate rush of excitement, and they are champing at the bit to get into Iran.

At least, this seems to be the rosy picture Ralph Peters is trying to paint. Sounds like the ‘myth’ isn’t coming from the left.”

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