What does a “Stop Movement” order mean? This is a directive that was applied to military troops at the start of the coronavirus outbreak (as it affected U.S. military operations) and affects both permanent change of station moves and temporary duty assignments. What do you need to know about a Stop Movement order? Who it affects, and how it differs from the similarly titled “Stop-Loss” order.
The Definition Of A Stop Movement Order
A Stop Movement order is a temporary change in DoD policy regarding travel for military members and family members, and transfer regulations for TDY, PCS, or other official moves.
Such orders can delay TDY and PCS travel, and can be issued for a limited time and/or a limited geographic area. “Stop Movement” prohibits all but mission-essential travel. What is deemed mission essential?
That is up to the issuing authority to decide. Stop Movement can restrict leave to the local area, prohibit all but mission-essential movement, and could in some cases affect retirement plans or professional education.
Motivation for a Stop Movement order could come out of a need for enhanced safety or security. In the case of the order given in response to the COVID-19 coronavirus problem it was associated with containment of the virus and preventing it from spreading to military communities or from them.
Stop Movement: The Most Current Example
Using the Stop Movement order current at the time of this writing (related to the coronavirus) as our example, we see that in this particular case, the order requires a 60-day halt to all travel not deemed mission-essential.
On March 13, 2020, the Deputy Secretary For Defense issued a memorandum outlining the policies and procedures for a Stop-Movement order effective March 16, 2020. The 60-day moratorium on all non-official travel in the U.S. and certain locations overseas applies to all DoD military and civilian personnel. It also affects families assigned to DoD installations and surrounding areas.
The memorandum declares, “All DoD military personnel will stop movement while this memorandum is in effect. In addition, DoD civilian personnel and DoD family members, whose transportation is government-funded, will also stop movement.”
Leave is not allowed except in the local area, and the extent of this travel ban includes the entire continental United States (CONUS) and certain locations outside CONUS.
One potential complication with the Stop Movement order could directly affect those who are making permanent change of station moves. Those who had a PCS authorized to be completed at or near the time of the order may experience a delay in shipping or receiving household goods shipments due to coronavirus containment practices.
Much depends on circumstances at the time of the move including the timing of the Stop Movement order. At the very least, some household goods shipments or pack-outs will be slowed down by a bit of extra red tape.
Consider the advisory issued by U.S. Transportation Command directing moving companies contracted to handle military household goods warning them to “take no action on scheduled pick-ups or pack-outs of household goods until they confirm with the Personal Property Office responsible for the shipment that it should continue.”
One consequence of this particular Stop Movement order involves civilian hiring policies for the affected military bases. According to a statement issued by the Pentagon, the current order “will also pause civilian hiring at DoD installations and components for persons who do not reside within the hiring entity’s local commuting area.”
The current travel restriction is enforced in tandem with a separate travel ban for government-paid travel “to, from or through” locations that have a Level Three Health Travel Notice issued by the Centers For Disease Control.
Not all Stop Movement orders will apply rules like these; each one is crafted in response to the specific circumstances that warranted the order.
Stop Movement Versus Stop-Loss
A Stop Movement order limits travel and leave; this should not be confused with a different type of military procedure known as Stop-Loss.
Stop-Loss is a kind of military administrative policy that can be put into place when the government needs to reduce the number of troops leaving military service, certain mission types, and in some cases is used to prevent critical staffing shortages caused by Permanent Change of Station moves.
When a Stop-Loss order is enforced, it involuntarily extends a military member’s active duty service commitment beyond the official date they were expected to depart. This extension of service can go up to the end date of the End Of Active Obligated Service, or EAOS. Stop-Loss was used to maintain troop levels during the first Gulf War, but also during the war on terror following 9/11.
Stop-Loss can also refer to the cancellation of a PCS move for someone who is still serving. The motivations for using that type of Stop-Loss could include mission requirements at the unit level, but natural disasters, disease outbreaks, terrorist attacks, or many other variables could also require a Stop-Loss directive to sustain a particular mission.
Stop-Loss and Stop Movement are unrelated. The two may be ordered simultaneously, but one is not dependent on the other.
Joe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter for Air Force Television News
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