Change in Deployment Policy Aims to Provide Predictability
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, April 11, 2007 The policy change extending Army deployments is an attempt to provide some long-term predictability for soldiers and their families on the length of deployments and how long the soldiers will be home, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said during a briefing today.
Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Gen. Peter Pace announced that soldiers will now serve 15-month tours in the U.S. Central Command area rather than 12 months.
The change applies only to active duty soldiers. Reserve component soldiers and Marine, Navy and Air Force personnel are not affected.
Under the change units will deploy for 15 months followed by 12 months at home station.
Gates stressed that the policy change only applies to active duty Army units.
“We remain committed to implementation of the decisions that I made in January that the National Guard and reserve component will be mobilized for a maximum of a year,” he said. “Our goal, again, there is five years (at home), and … our effort will be to keep that dwell time at home as long as we can. But I don't want there to be any mistake, the reserve component will still have a maximum mobilization of one year.”
This change does not indicate that the Army is broken, Gates said, but he acknowledged that “our forces are stretched. There's no question about that.”
Pace said soldiers will rise to the challenge.
“We have had some wonderful young Americans over the last four or five years who, knowing full well that the nation's at war, have volunteered to serve the nation and to go to war,” he said. “I do not believe that when they signed up they thought it was going to be one tour of 12 months or any other number. I believe that they knew that they were joining a military that was at war and that they would end up, most likely, going into combat.”
Defense leaders have the responsibility to provide all members of the military the right training, the right equipment and the right quality of life, Pace said. The change to deployment goes a long way toward making sure the units will have the time needed to train and that the soldiers will have time with their families.
“Is it an additional strain to go from 12 months to 15 months? Of course it is,” Pace said. “Is it in combat and therefore even more difficult? Of course it is. And that's why the entire nation should be thankful that we have such incredible young men and women who, knowing that, volunteer to serve this nation in a time of great need.”