A further sign of manning problems...

Army Using Policy to Deny Reserve Officer Resignations - Washington Post

The Army Reserve, taxed by recruiting shortfalls and war-zone duty, has adopted a policy barring officers from leaving the service if their field is undermanned or they have not been deployed to Iraq, to Afghanistan or for homeland defense missions.

The reserve has used the unpublicized policy, first adopted in 2004 and strengthened in a May 2005 memo signed by Lt. Gen. James R. Helmly, its commander, to disapprove the resignations of at least 400 reserve officers, according to Army figures.


Under another practice, known as "stop-loss," thousands of active-duty Army and reserve soldiers have been temporarily prevented from leaving the military, either because their skills were needed or because their units were going overseas. As of January, more than 13,000 soldiers were being kept in the service under stop-loss, a policy criticized by some as a "backdoor draft," which the Army says it seeks to end.

But experts in military law say barring reserve officers from resigning is in some ways more expansive and open-ended than stop-loss. The policy applies to officers who do not fall under stop-loss.

At the heart of the controversy is whether a law stating that commissioned reserve officers are appointed "for an indefinite term and are held during the pleasure of the President" gives the government the power to force them to serve permanently -- as Army lawyers say -- or only to discharge them against their will.

"This is a dangerous precedent for the future of all officers. They are saying officer service is permanent," said Capt. Bradley Schwan, who served six years on active duty before joining the Army Reserve. He is suing Defense Department leaders to be allowed to resign, after being turned down twice. He is awaiting a ruling on a government motion to dismiss his case by a judge in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.

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