By Michelle Tan - Staff writer
Posted : Monday Apr 20, 2009
In a windfall for all deploying reservists, the Army Reserve's plan
for replacing stop-loss includes offering up to $1,200 extra to each
one of its soldiers headed to the war zone after Aug. 1.
The payments are to begin soon and are intended as an incentive to
get reservists who have the option of separating before their unit's
war tour to stay on at least through the deployment. Reserve leaders
say the plan is to maintain unit cohesion, and with that goal in
mind, it decided to pay the extra cash to every soldier in deploying units.
Reserve leaders crafted the plan in a bid to help bolster manning
after the end of stop-loss, the policy that for at least the last six
years has allowed all Army components to involuntarily keep soldiers
in the ranks of deploying units beyond their separation and retirement dates.
The Reserve will be the first component to begin mobilizing units
without stop-loss, beginning in August. The Guard will follow in
September and the active Army in January.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced March 18 that stop-loss
would be phased out over the next two years and ordered that as of
April 1, soldiers from any component serving under the policy get an
extra $500 a month until the elimination of stop-loss.
In March, about 700 enlisted Reserve soldiers were under stop-loss
orders, said Lt. Col. Jay Jackson, chief of current operations in the
Reserve G-1. As soon as the Reserve receives Defense Department
approval, soldiers preparing to mobilize on or after Aug. 1 will
receive an additional $200 every drill weekend, up to $1,200 total.
Asked why the incentive is being paid not just to soldiers who would
have faced stop-loss but also to those whose service obligations
carry through mobilization and deployment, Reserve leaders cited the
need for unit cohesion.
Reserve soldiers whose units will mobilize on or after Aug. 1 have a
number of options, said Lt. Col. Paul Hester, strategic plans officer
for the Reserve G-1.
They can extend or re-enlist to deploy with the unit. Six months
before the unit deploys, they will begin receiving the extra pay.
But if they choose not to extend or re-enlist, they will not deploy
and not receive the extra pay. depending on their situation, the
soldiers could be transferred to their higher headquarters, to the
Individual Ready Reserve, to another reserve unit or their unit's
rear-detachment, Hester said.
Soldiers who choose to stay with the unit must make their decision,
and commit in writing, one year to six months before their unit's
mobilization date to give commanders time to fill any vacancies, Hester said.
Six months before a unit mobilizes, it is considered a high-priority
unit and qualifies for the Reserve's Designated Unit Stabilization
Program, or DUSP.
"The goal is to stabilize units six months before they deploy," Hester said.
Under DUSP, soldiers receive the additional $200 every drill weekend,
or $50 per unit training assembly, for a maximum of $1,200 in the six
months leading up to their mobilization.
All soldiers in a designated unit, regardless of their ETS or
retirement dates, qualify for DUSP pay if they are deploying with the unit.
Soldiers whose ETS or retirement dates will come up during the unit's
deployment must re-enlist or extend to qualify for DUSP payments.
"DUSP is not only a plan or a program to mitigate stop-loss, but it's
more of a plan to stabilize units," Hester said. "What this program
does is, it encourages participating at the assemblies in the six
months prior to mobilization. By encouraging maximum participation,
you increase unit cohesion, you increase pre-mobilization training,
which increases boots on the ground time when the unit's in Iraq or
By August, officials expect about 1,600 Reserve soldiers to be
involved in DUSP, and they anticipate spending about $8 million on
the program for the remainder of this fiscal year.
The Reserve is finalizing details for DUSP and awaiting final
approval from the Defense Department.
Because of that, soldiers in units deploying less than six months
from now and after Aug. 1, when the Reserve stops using stop-loss,
will get a chance to earn the full $1,200 through rescheduled
training or additional assemblies, Hester said.
"Units that will mobilize in August, we'll make sure they are
eligible for the full $1,200," he said. "No one will be forced to,
but the unit will be granted an exception to perform [rescheduled and
Once deployed, soldiers who chose to extend their service in order to
deploy can decide to re-enlist any time up to their ETS date.
The Reserve does not have a program similar to that of the active
Army, which plans to offer soldiers up to $500 a month if they extend
and deploy with their unit. The Army National Guard is working on a
similar incentive program and as of April 10 was still waiting for
DoD to approve its plan.
Instead, the Reserve will rely on incentives such as DUSP and
volunteerism to fill deploying units, said Lt. Col. Mark Cogburn,
chief of strategic communications for the Reserve G-1.
Another method that the Reserve also can use is cross-leveling, in
which vacancies in a deploying unit are filled with soldiers from another unit.
"Cross-leveling is still going to be necessary, but it's really our
last means to filling units," Cogburn said. "The DUSP is one of the
incentives we're using to get soldiers to volunteer [to deploy]."