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Afghanistan surge won't change plans to up dwell time

By C. Todd Lopez

WASHINGTON (Dec. 03, 2009) -- A 30,000 boots-on-the-ground increase in Afghanistan will not change the Army's plans to cut Stop Loss, stabilize deployment lengths or increase dwell time for Soldiers.

In a message to Army leaders, Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr. said the impact from the increase "will not be as significant" as Soldiers might think.

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The general said that due to the 70,000-Soldier increase the Army has experienced over the last five years, the addition of 30,000 servicemembers in Afghanistan would be able to happen without the Army needing to go to 15-month deployments, without decreasing dwell time at home station below 12 months, and without halting the plan to come off stop loss.

The general also said that if the Iraq drawdown continues, the Army will move closer to its goals for dwell time -- increasing the time troops spend at home between deployments -- eventually reaching a 1:2 dwell time for active-duty Soldiers, and a 1:4 dwell time for reserve-component Soldiers.

"Even with the increase ordered by the president, we estimate that about 70 percent of the active component will reach these goals by 2011," he wrote. "The remainder of the force will continue to see their dwell rate increase and should meet these goals by 2012."

During a speech Dec. 1 at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., President Barack Obama announced the increase of 30,000 servicemembers to support the 68,000 already in Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.

"It is in our vital national interest to send an additional 30,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan," Obama said. "After 18 months, our troops will begin to come home. These are the resources that we need to seize the initiative, while building the Afghan capacity that can allow for a responsible transition of our forces out of Afghanistan."

Criteria for a drawdown would include the ability of the Afghans to provide security for their own country, said David S. Sedney, deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Afghanistan, Pakistan and Central Asia.

"There's the criteria that we'll be looking for, and it'll be a district-by-district, province-by-province process," Sedney said in a Blogger's Roundtable Tuesday night.

Equipping the Afghans to provide that security, said Brig. Gen. John Nicholson, director of the Pakistan-Afghanistan Coordination Cell, Joint Staff, would be the role of both American Soldiers and Coalition partners.

"We are also, with these additional forces, going to act as a critical catalyst to accelerate their development," Nicholson said of the Afghan Army.

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