Thursday, May 10, 2007

So much for 12-months “Dwell Time”

Stars & Stripes reported Thursday that the Army is rotating a combat company back to Iraq a mere nine months after they left. Members of the 1st Armored Division, 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry, Company A were informed on Tuesday that they will return to Iraq in November, for a 15 month deployment. They just finished a 13-month deployment to Iraq in February.

On April 11, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates announced that tours would be extended to 15 months for all active duty Army personnel currently deployed or with orders to the theatre of operations. At the time the extended tours were announced, the SecDef also stressed that soldiers would be guaranteed a full year at home.

When asked about the situation late Wednesday, Mr. Gates said he could not explain why the Army was sending the company back to battle a mere nine months after it’s last deployment finished. “I’ll be very interested to find out more about that. We just need to find out about that, because I made it clear that people would have 12 months at home.” (emphasis added)

Apparently the SecDef needs to have a chat with Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman about just what, exactly the Secretary meant when he said those words, because he got something entirely different out of the SecDef’s proclamation..

“[T]here are some people, just by the nature of transferring units and things like that may not end up with the full 12 months.”

“The United States military is not a static organization,” Whitman said.

The Army, Whitman said, is “managing intensely” “individuals in units, and assignment policies, and rotations and things like that.”

“But it’s not going to be 100 percent, or you would have to basically, you know, lock down the Army, and nobody would transfer from one combat unit to another combat unit,” Whitman said.

Rather than a guarantee, Whitman said, the 12-month dwell time between deployments “is a goal, to have units and individuals to have an appropriate amount of time for recovery and for stability purposes at home station and to be able to be with their families.”

So…a promise made to the services by the Secretary of Defense is a goal, eh?

The fact remains, we have asked too much of our services, especially of the Army. It is simply unsustainable. We have a reckoning in store, and it will not be pleasant to deal with. It would behoove us to start that process now.

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