The New York Times reviews Stop-Loss, the latest anti-war film to come out of Hollywood. Unshockingly, they recommend it. Just as unshockingly, they leave unasked the question of whether the movie has anything to do with the stop-loss policy employed by the Pentagon.
Judging by the trailer (which I saw a few months ago in the previews for Charlie Wilson’s War — a terrific pro-American, anti-Soviet film about running guns to the Afghan Northern Alliance), the protagonist returns from a tour of duty in Iraq, looking forward to his discharge and a life with his fiancée. On the way out, he is informed that he is being “stop-lossed” and sent back to Iraq. Tragedy ensues.
In reality, the stop-loss policy is intended to maintain cohesion in units deployed to war. According to the Christian Science Monitor, soldiers can have their commitment extended for the duration of a deployment and up to 90 days before and after that deployment. So, it would not happen that a soldier who had just returned and was due to be discharged would get transferred to another unit and re-deployed. Indeed, from the perspective of unit cohesion, that would entirely defeat the purpose.
There’s certainly a legitimate debate about whether stop-loss is a good policy (I have no strong opinion), but judging by the trailer, this movie just spreads misinformation and doesn’t advance that debate at all.