Gates Announces Changes to Reserve Deployments, Calls for Extension Pay
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 11, 2007 The Defense Department will soon begin compensating troops who are required to mobilize or deploy early or extend their deployments, and will reduce the time reserve-component members are mobilized involuntarily to 12 months, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates announced here today.
Gates, speaking at a joint news conference with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, said he will put in place a program to “compensate individuals in both active and reserve components that are required to mobilize or deploy early or extend beyond the established rotation policy goals.”
Pentagon officials have drafted a proposal for the secretary, but it is not yet final. The department already offers involuntary assignment incentive pay, but it only covers servicemembers in units involuntarily extended beyond a 12-month tour.
Gates also announced today that DoD will change the way it manages reserve-component forces to reduce the length of mobilizations and increase unit cohensiveness.
Under the new plan, Guard and Reserve members will be mobilized for a year, rather than the current practice of mobilization for 16 to 24 months, he said.
Gates said the changes would have been made independent of President Bush’s change in strategy in Iraq, announced last night.
Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the move is an effort to cut the stress on both the active and reserve forces. On the active side, the U.S. military has a goal of one year deployed, followed by two years home. In reality, however, that rotation often has gone to one year overseas, one year home, Pace said.
The reserve-component goal is to mobilize members for one year, followed by five years demobilized. “It's really been more like a year-and-a-half to almost two years mobilized,” the chairman said.
Pace called the new change a “clean slate” for the reserve components.
He said the secretary's decision will allow the military to remobilize forces needed to assist in the total force effort in Iraq. It also will “significantly ensure that when we do remobilize – or, for those who have not yet been mobilized, when we mobilize them – that their time will be one year,” he said.
The new timetable means a unit called to service will train, deploy, do the mission, come home and demobilize, all within one year, Pace said.
“For any one mobilization, we are constrained not to keep anybody more than 24 months,” he said. “For subsequent mobilization, we're constrained not to keep anybody more than 24 months. What we're committing to is that we will not keep anybody more than one year on a subsequent mobilization.”
Gates’ announcement also affects the way reserve and Guard troops are called to duty.
DoD will manage ground reserve force mobilizations on a unit basis rather than an individual basis, he said.
Pentagon officials said this change will eliminate “cross-leveling” that is used to fill manpower slots in deploying units. Under the current system, a reserve unit is identified for deployment. When the unit doesn’t have all the personnel it is allotted, reserve-component leaders fill those gaps with smaller units or individuals from other units.
“This change will allow us to achieve greater unit cohesion and predictability in how reserve units train and deploy,” the secretary said.