DoD Doesn't Plan on Extending Reserve Soldiers
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jul. 21, 2004 The Defense Department does not plan on extending any reserve component service member beyond the 24-month limit, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said at a Pentagon news conference today.
"Although one should never say never," he said.
At issue are about 400 soldiers of the 39th Brigade Combat Team of the Arkansas National Guard. The 2nd Battalion, 153rd Infantry served on peacekeeping duty in the Sinai beginning in October 2001. The unit now is serving with the 1st Cavalry Division in Baghdad. The soldiers will go over 24 cumulative months of active duty beginning in November, officials said. The brigade, however, is not due to rotate back to the United States until March.
No other units in any service will bump up against this time limit, officials said.
DoD policy is that a reservist cannot spend more than 24 months of active duty service under the president's reserve call-up authority issued Sept. 20, 2001.
But that is not what the law Section 12302 of Title 10 of the U.S. Code says. The law forbids 24 "consecutive" months of service. "My understanding is that there may be a law or a regulation or a policy that talks about 24 consecutive months, and then there has been a practice that addresses the 24 -- not from consecutive months, but from cumulative months, which is obviously a lesser threshold," Rumsfeld said. "We don't plan at the moment to extend people beyond the 24 months."
The brigade has served with distinction in Baghdad, officials said. A total of 13 brigade soldiers have been killed.
DoD is looking at a range of options. The men affected could volunteer to stay with the unit until it returns. Other personnel could replace those leaving. DoD officials will decide soon.