The Army may be about to stop its unpopular "stop-loss" method of keeping troops beyond their enlistment.
Officials say Defense Secretary Robert Gates will announce he'll stop the forced tour extensions, except in extraordinary circumstances.
The military is also agreeing to $500 monthly payments to troops still forced to stay beyond retirement or enlistment terms. Documents show the payments would be retroactive to last Oct. 1.
Critics have described the stop-loss practice as a "backdoor draft." But the military calls it a necessary tool to maintain unit cohesion in times of war. It's also a way to keep soldiers with certain skills needed in certain units.
Other service branches have virtually phased out "stop loss," but the Army said it needed to use it because of the severe strain of fighting the two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.