WASHINGTON (CNN) - The military will phase out its "stop-loss" program - the controversial practice of holding troops beyond their enlistment dates - for all but extraordinary situations, Defense Secretary Roberts Gates announced on Wednesday.
The military will use incentive programs to encourage extending service. Soldiers who have been extended already will get a monthly payment of $500, retroactive to the date Congress passed the law to pay them.
The stop-loss program was put into place to ensure that units deployed fully. Those whose enlistment dates were to end in the middle of their unit's deployment could have their tour prolonged.
Currently, the Army is the only service that uses the stop-loss program. As of January 2009, 13,217 soldiers had tours extended under the policy.
The Army also used the stop-loss policy during Operation Desert Shield, and after September 11.