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12-Month Deployments to Reduce Stress, Build Depth

By C. Todd Lopez

WASHINGTON (April 21, 2008) -- Soldiers can now look forward to less time away from their families as the Army finalizes plans for shortened deployment lengths in support of the war on terror.

With the decision by President George W. Bush April 12, the Army will return to 12- month deployments after Aug. 1, said Lt. Gen. James D. Thurman, deputy chief of staff of the Army for G-3 (Operations). He said the shortened tour lengths would be good for both Soldiers and the Army.

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"It's going to help us begin to restore the balance that we need to do in the Army," he said. "That will help us reduce that stress and strain on our Soldiers and their families. It will also help us by continuing to build that strategic depth back in the Army."

The change refers now only to the active component of the Army, and will help bring the Army back to a "1 to 1" ratio of deployment time to dwell time -- the period of time following a deployment that allows a unit to reset and re-equip. The general said the Army wants to increase dwell time.

"Ideally, we want to push that out to 15 to 18 months," he said. "We want to get to 18 months because that will allow us to start building back to the full-spectrum capability we need -- we are a counter-insurgency based force."

Some units are now at 15 months dwell time, the general said. But not the entire Army.

"It depends on what kind of formation you are in," he said.

By Fiscal 2011, the Army could attain 24 months of dwell time for each year deployed, Thurman said, but added the Army has a longer dwell time planned beyond that.

"The ultimate goal that we have in the Army is to get to a one and three," he said. "But I don't see that happening now, based on current demands -- because demand does exceed supply."

The Army National Guard and Army Reserve are under a 12-month mobilization policy. Pre- and post- mobilization times are built in to that 12 months. The ultimate goal for the Guard and Reserve is to have one year deployed and 5 years at home, he said.

To achieve a 24-month dwell time by FY11, the Army will need 15 BCTs in the active component that are always ready to deploy. The National Guard will also need to provide four to five ready-to-deploy brigades to make that happen.

The change to 12-month deployments will take affect for Soldiers deploying after Aug. 1. Those Soldiers currently deployed, and those deploying prior to the August date, will deploy for their already scheduled tour lengths.

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