In a dramatic shift from the days of "stop-loss" when service members hoping to separate from service would be compelled to remain, the Army began its latest early separation program June 1. Called the “Enlisted Involuntary Early Separation Program”, the plan has major changes from previous, similar programs, the Army Times reports.
The program affects soldiers with at least 36 months of active service but no more than 71 months. The timing preserves soldiers’ Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits but does not extend into the time frame where the soldier would be entitled to separation pay. Pay and allowances will also not be paid for the time removed from the soldier’s enlistment contract.
The program is modeled on one that was instituted about three years ago to end the wildly unpopular “stop loss” retention of troops. It may involuntarily separate soldiers as much as twelve months before the end of their contract. Much of the criteria revolves around the scheduled deployment dates for the soldier and his unit. If the unit is not scheduled to deploy until June 2013, troops in that unit are at greatest risk for the twelve month early separation.
Extension incentives are continuing, so that troops selected for early separation may be able to deploy with their units provided they are not reenlisting. In general, soldiers with less than six months remaining on their contract will not deploy.
Add not deploying to the general criteria that the Army is using to separate soldiers. As the Army Times reported in February, failing promotion, fitness issues, too much time in grade and tighter promotion requirements will all be used to reduce the force.
There are exceptions in the program and in some cases, extensions are available. There is also an appeals process.
Service members may also have the opportunity to retrain and reenlist into more in-demand occupations, specifically counterintelligence agent (35L), public affairs specialist (46Q), broadcast journalist (46R), translator (09L), diver (21D) and unmanned aerial vehicle operator (15W). The involuntary reductions are a part of overall defense department efforts to trim the budget and drawdown combat operations. Each branch will be undertaking troop reductions as the military cuts thousands of service members over the next several years.
Charles Simmins brings thirty years of accounting and management experience to his coverage of the news. An upstate New Yorker, he is a freelance journalist, former volunteer firefighter and EMT, and is owned by a wife and four cats.