January 12, 2006

US may extend soldier’s military service: court

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A U.S. soldier who sued the
military to protest the involuntary extension of his service
lost his challenge on Thursday of the "stop-loss" policy
Washington has used to maintain troop levels.

The decision by a three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit
Court of Appeals was the latest upholding the military's right
to keep soldiers in the service beyond their original
contracted time by issuing emergency stop-loss orders.

The case involved a California National Guard soldier --
his name is listed in court papers only as John Doe -- whose
time under arms was extended by 11 months. Doe argued that the
extension was an unconstitutional infringement of liberty but
the court disagreed.

"Doe's arguments challenging the president's 'stop-loss'
authority are not persuasive," Judge Stephen Trott wrote for
the three-judge panel. "The 'stop-loss' order extending Doe's
enlistment is a valid exercise of presidential power."

The court made a similar ruling last May and that decision
was cited in the latest review of the issue.

"As we held in Santiago, the enlistment agreement gave
warning in plain language that his service could be extended,"
the decision said.

Attorney Michael Sorgen said he would ask for a larger
11-judge en banc panel of the 9th Circuit to reconsider the

"The door is still open, but not much," he said.

The all-volunteer U.S. military has used the stop-loss
program to maintain troop levels as it lags its recruiting
goals for its forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. Tens of thousands
of troops have had their time extended under the program.