BRUSSELS — Defense Secretary Ash Carter has ordered the Pentagon to stop seeking repayments of enlistment bonuses from California National Guard members, The Associated Press has learned.

House Speaker Paul Ryan on Tuesday called for the Pentagon to immediately suspend efforts to recover the enlistment bonuses paid to thousands of soldiers in California, even as the Pentagon said late Tuesday the number of soldiers affected was smaller than first believed.

"When those Californians answered the call to duty" to serve in Iraq and Afghanistan, "they earned more from us than bureaucratic bungling and false promises," Ryan said. He urged the Pentagon to suspend collection efforts until "Congress has time ... to protect service members from lifelong liability for DOD's mistakes."

Ryan's comments came as the White House said President Obama has warned the Defense Department not to "nickel and dime" service members who were victims of fraud by overzealous recruiters.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Tuesday he did not believe Obama would support a blanket waiver of repayments, but said California National Guard members should not be held responsible for "unethical conduct or fraud perpetrated by someone else."