Sunday, March 30, 2008

"Stop-Loss": an important and disturbing film

The U.S invasion and occupation of Iraq is now 5 years and counting.

More than 4,000 members of the U.S. armed forces have been killed and 29,451 have been wounded.

We are spending more than $10 billion a month on the war.

A new movie, "Stop-Loss" by Kimberly Peirce, whose brother served in Iraq, is a powerful indictment of the continuing U.S. occupation, our treatment of returning vets and the widespread use of "Stop-loss" to supply troops for the occupation and surge.

Over 81,000 Iraqi war veterans have been forced to return to combat under the military's Stop-loss policy, the involuntary extension of a service member's enlistment contract in order to retain them beyond the normal term of service.

Put simply, a veteran's discharge is unilaterally canceled and he or she is sent back to Iraq. Stop-loss is the military's way of continuing to throw troops into the Iraq quagmire even as recruitment declines.

So much for the "volunteer" army!

The irony that an administration that accused opponents of the war of being disloyal to the troops is using these very young men and women, against their will, as cannon fodder is not lost on the film makers or the actors who play the returning combat veterans.

While the Journal Sentinel's movie critic criticized the film as leaving "...something to be desired as art."

The New York Times movie critic, A.O. Scott gave it a very positive review:

..there is a grim, accidental timeliness in the release of “Stop-Loss,” which focuses on the ordeal of American soldiers in and out of combat...Ms. Peirce’s not only an earnest, issue-driven narrative, but also a feverish entertainment, a passionate, at times overwrought melodrama gaudy with violent actions and emotions....

...its messy, chaotic welter of feeling has a tang of authenticity. Instead of high-minded indignation or sorrow, it runs on earthier fuel: sweat, blood, beer, testosterone, loud music and an ideologically indeterminate, freewheeling sense of rage.

“Stop-Loss” makes no argument beyond the recognition of that fact. It is an imperfect movie — marred, if anything, by its sincere affection and undisciplined compassion — about the imperfect young men who keep returning to a war the rest of us would prefer not to think about.

This is an important and disturbing movie.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

FY 2007 U.S. Military Recruiting Statistics
From Rod Powers,

Oct 11 2007
The Department of Defense has announced its recruiting statistics by the active and reserve components for Fiscal Year 2007. A "Fiscal Year" runs from October through December.

All of the active duty branches met or exceeded their recruiting goals for the fiscal year. On the Reserve side, four of the six reserve componants met or exceeded their recruiting goals.

The Army's recruiting sucess was not without price. During Fiscal Year 2007, only 79 percent of the new recruits entering the Army possessed a high school diploma. The DOD standard is that at least 90 percent of new recruits should have a high school diploma. The other services met or exceeded the 90 percent goal.

The Army also approved more criminal history waivers than they have in years past. About 15 percent of new recruits required a criminal history waiver. 87 percent of those approved waivers were because of misdemeanor convictions, and the remainder for more serious offenses, including felonies.

The next two years of recruiting will be even more challenging for the Army. Congress has decided to increase the total size of the Army by 74,000 by 2010 — to 547,000 active duty, reservists and National Guard. This will require significantly higher recruiting goals than the 80,000 goal which has challenged the Army for the past two years.

Fiscal 2007 Enlisted Recruiting from October 1, 2006 - September 30, 2007:

07 Recruiting Statistics

Componant Accessions Goal Percent
80,407 80,000 101
37,361 37,000 101
Marine Corps
35,603 35,576 100
Air Force
27,801 27,801 100
Army National Guard 66,652 70,000 95
Army Reserve
35,734 35,505 101
Navy Reserve
10,627 10,602 100
Marine Corps Reserve
7,959 7,256 110
Air National Guard
9,975 10,690 93
Air Force Reserve 7,110 6,834 104