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Standard AEF deployment length stretches to 120 days

By Staff Sgt. C. Todd Lopez

WASHINGTON (June 04, 2004) -- Most Airmen scheduled to deploy in upcoming air and space expeditionary force packages will see their orders expand from 90 to 120 days.

The change in deployment length will begin with AEF cycle 5 in September. Those who deploy as part of AEF 1 and 2 should prepare for a 120-day deployment.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. John P. Jumper announced the change in his “Sight Picture” on June 4. The reason for the change is that the requirement for deployable forces is not expected to decrease in the foreseeable future, he said.

"Simply put, the demands on our deployable forces have not diminished and are not expected to decline for some time," the general wrote. "Further, the Air Force component commander in the Central Command area of operations has asked us to deploy people for longer tour lengths to allow greater continuity for expeditionary commanders in the field."

To help extend tour lengths to 120 days, the entire AEF cycle was adjusted. The new cycle, now 20 months in length, allows for a four-month eligibility window and a 16-month training window.

General Jumper also said he intends to increase the pool of Airmen eligible for deployment. Currently, the Air Force has about 272,000 Airmen earmarked as deployment-eligible.

"I have asked all of our major commands to aggressively review the assumptions upon which they exclude Airmen from our AEFs and take immediate steps to maximize those postured (for deployment)," the general said.

The changes to the AEF cycle, while possibly difficult for some, should be considered by all Airmen as part of their commitment to the Air Force, General Jumper said.

"Let me be perfectly clear -- in our Air Force, every Airman is expeditionary, every Airman will know (his or her) place in the AEF system, and every Airman will be prepared to support the combatant commander, whether deployed, in (the continental United States) via reachback, or employed at home station," General Jumper said.

Airmen currently deployed as part of AEF 7 and 8 and AEF 9 and 10 will still be held to the 90-day deployment schedule.