The NYT reports that a group of eight soldiers are suing the government over stop-loss orders. They say their terms are up and they should get to go home. When I first heard about these stop-loss orders I thought it sounded like a rather fishy way of instituting a backdoor draft of sorts, but I figured it must have been somewhere in the fine print of the soldier's contract.
Jules Lobel, a lawyer for one of the eight soldiers, described the central complaint this way: They were fraudulently induced to sign up, Mr. Lobel said, because nothing in their enlistment contract mentioned that they might be involuntarily kept on.

If this is true, I have to see this in a whole new light--and it's not a good one. I believe military service should be completely voluntary. I understand the need for a standing army--and for the occasional war. But if we can't recruit enough troops to accompish Mission X, might that be an indication that there isn't enough public support for said mission? And shouldn't that be the ultimate litmus test?

I don't know--I know war is messy and our great freedoms that allow us to sue our own government and express dissent are only possible because we do indeed have a standing army and do indeed go to war from time to time, but the idea of a draft--or stop-loss orders--just rubs me the wrong way. And I know the government compels its citizens to do lots of other things they'd rather not--like pay taxes--but something like taking up arms and putting your life on the line ought to be voluntary.

Speaking of putting your life on the line: one of the soldiers suing is a member of the Army band ordered to travel Iraq and perform. God forbid we let him come home and see his family--we wouldn't want to be short a trumpet player.