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Stop-Loss Orders Remain Hot Topic In Military

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FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — It's one of the hottest issues in the military: Stop-loss orders.

Through the plan, the government can require troops to keep serving, even after they fulfill their time obligations. Eight soldiers recently sued because of it.

Robert Latta just retired from the Army. He says some of his friends were supposed to leave, too, and couldn't because of stop-loss orders.

"You're getting ready to get out, you got plans to go to school, you got accepted to school and, then, they stop-lossed you," Latta said. "That pretty much puts a stop to everything you want to do the rest of your life."

WRAL expert and retired Air Force Lt. General Bob Springer handled issues including stop-loss orders.

"Let's face it, you know, this is war, we got to remember that this nation is at war against terrorism," Springer said. "There's a global war on terror taking place."

The issue of stop-loss came up a lot recently. There were three highly-publicized examples in the past few months. During the presidential election, Democrats called stop-loss a "back door draft."

Then, soldiers filed a lawsuit in Washington, D.C., challenging stop-loss. Last week, soldiers asked Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld if stop-loss is here to stay. He said yes.

Right now, the military estimates stop-loss orders affect 9,000 soldiers on active duty and as many as 160,000 national guard and reservists.

Latta considers himself lucky to serve, survive and now move into civilian life.

General Springer says the military usually uses stop-loss orders to keep troops with certain specialties, such as truck drivers and military police.

Springer also says it's more of an issue with the Army and Marines. The Navy and Air Force are actually looking to downsize, he said.

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