I don’t think that the contracts are written to guarantee the right to leave at a certain time anymore. Of course, it’s pointless to try to figure out the language of the contracts without having access to the contracts…
But see this item, which I posted on another thread, for general info on “stop gap” measures:
December 06, 2004
HOW SOON THEY FORGET
Big news tonight that a group of soldiers are suing the government because although their terms of enlistment are up, they aren’t being released due to stop loss.
Prepare to hear the phrase “backdoor draft” all over again.
But here’s what amazes me about this: the reason for stop loss may or may not be in part to play a numbers a game; but it’s also to make sure that units about to deploy or already deployed are frozen in place, to make sure that unit cohesion isn’t altered by having people coming and going when service contracts come due, making it necessary to replace those individuals.
The services didn’t randomly wake up one morning and decide that freezing units in place during war time might be a fun thing to try. As I’ve noted repeatedly, something the press always misses, since they pretty much stopped paying attention to the military after Vietnam except for a month here and a month there (and six months during Desert Shield/Storm) is that the military has spent twenty-five years obsessing over what went wrong in Vietnam and how they could make sure it would never go wrong again.
And one thing that made everyone’s list was the one year tour of duty. It meant that every unit was made up of people who were at different stages of their tour, rookies mixed in with veterans, people who didn’t really know what they were doing with people who were risk averse because they were close to going home, people who were tightly bonded mixed in with people who barely knew one another’s names, people close to their half-way point leave, people just back from leave – it was a disaster. And based on that disaster the move was made from deployments for individuals to deployments for entire units. No longer would an individual go to war for a set period of time. Now an individual was assigned to a unit and he or she would deploy with his or her unit for as long as that unit deployed. (Which was still less than World War II, when troops, and units, had deployed for the duration.) But units simply cannot be guaranteed in advance that they will deploy for a specific period of time and have that be honored no matter what during time of war – the needs of the military have to come first.
But the only alternative is to have some people, whose terms of service end before the unit is to come home, leave early, and be replaced by people unknown to the rest of the unit, with far less experience than the rest of the unit. It doesn’t replicate the Vietnam experience, but it comes close enough that the military just isn’t going to play. Not when it doesn’t take but a few people in critical slots to throw everyone off and put a number of people of risk.
And that’s the part of stop loss the press never explains.