DoD to Improve Deployment Tracking
By Sgt. 1st Class Kathleen T. Rhem, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Apr. 20, 2001 DoD and the services are now keeping a closer eye on how many days service members spend away from home.
The 2000 National Defense Authorization Act mandated that the services report how many days each service member spends deployed. The services must report to DoD, and DoD then must report to Congress. The first report to Congress is due in March 2002.
Air Force Lt. Col. Mike Stark, an official in the Pentagon’s Officer and Enlisted Personnel Management Directorate, explained that DoD is trying to reduce the number of days service members are deployed. And to keep these numbers down, Congress provided a financial disincentive to the Defense Department.
Any service member deployed more than 400 days in the previous two years will receive $100 for each additional deployment day past 400, Stark said. The days need not be consecutive. Officials are calling the plan the “Perstempo Program.” “Personnel tempo” basically indicates how busy service members are.
Stark explained perstempo reporting began Oct. 1, 2000. Only deployed days past that date count toward the additional payment. So, conceivably, heavily deployed service members may be eligible for the “high-deployment per diem” as early as November 2001, he said.
Eventually, the services will report deployment days on members’ military leave and earning statements, but all the services aren’t to this point yet. The Marines began including the figure on March LESs, which members should have received about April 1. The Army and Navy are currently testing the system in some areas, and the Air Force is still working out the details, Stark said.
Not all days away from home count toward the high- deployment per diem. Stark said duty in garrison (such as overnight guard duty or charge of quarters) and individual training don’t count. But deployments for operations and exercises, even at home station, do count toward the payments.
DoD has a vested interest in keeping deployment days down, Stark said. “The majority of our service members enjoy doing what they train to do, but you can have too much of a good thing,” he said. “If we overdo it, that effects service members’ quality of life. That has a ripple affect on retention, which in turn affects recruiting when the word gets out that we’re overtaxing people.”