CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- "Suck it up" is Sgt. Maj. Michael Cline's reaction to the involuntary enlistment extensions plaguing the Marines of his battalion. "Move forward and keep on defending for God, Country and Corps."
As the sergeant major of Headquarters and Support Battalion, Marine Corps Base here, Cline is supportive of the force protection requirements that have initiated a "Stop Loss.?
Regardless of Military Occupational Specialty, Marines whose End of Active Service date is after Oct. 15, 2002, will be required to give an additional six-month period of service. Exceptions include those who are medically discharged, administratively discharged, Fleet Marine Corps Reserve, retirees and those who have met service limitations, said Cline.
Cline explained that ninety days before an EAS, Marines will be screened by military police and base personnel to see if they are eligible to serve in a force protection billet, i.e. military police or at the brig. If approved a "Stop Loss" status is given to the individual, along with reassignment to the aforementioned units, said Master Sgt. James A. Whitehead, HqSpt. Bn. administrative chief.
Whitehead is in charge of processing and guiding Marines through the screening process. His battalion currently has 22 Marines in a Stop Loss status and three additional pending administrative actions. Cline said it has been recommended by Headquarters Marine Corps to Stop Loss 60 Marines. This is a number Whitehead does not think the battalion will ever reach.
"We might come close in the next six months, but by that time those currently Stopped Lossed, will be approaching their new EAS," he said.
The status has already begun to affect one Marine here. Sergeant Matthew L. Wean, who has an EAS of Dec. 30 was prepared to leave active ranks and begin a new career in Charleston, S.C. He now has a new EAS of June 30. The physical security specialist with MP Company said he has a positive attitude about his extension.
"I accepted it fairly because I really didn't have much choice," he said. " I had mixed emotions at first, but if something does happen then I would rather be in than out."
Through AA form approval, only one Marine has managed to obtain a Stop Loss waiver. Whitehead said this case was very unusual and occurred when the Stop Loss Marine Administration 491/02 was first released. Traffic Management Office had already picked up the Marine's household goods and due to family medical conditions, the Stop Loss would have caused a severe hardship, said Whitehead.
Cline hopes that Marines affected by the set back try and focus on the true picture.
"This case is to protect against terrorism, keep our country free and keep our honor as Marines," he said. "Remember we are America's 911 Force."