Thursday, May 10, 2007

Pentagon Promises --- Mere Hopes

The decision to increase the standard tour of duty in Iraq for the entire regular Army from twelve months to fifteen months was made in order to build some dwell time into an impossible schedule. The US Army is worn out and stretched past its recovery points, and the continuation of sub-year long dwell periods would only increase this pain more so than increasing the combat tours. Units and soldiers were promised that they would get time off absent another strategic crisis.

Whoops ---- that is not true. Steve Benen is passing along a tidbit from Think Progress on the rest and reconstitution time for a Germany based infantry unit that is on the rotation schedule back into Iraq:

Stars and Stripes reports: “The Army is sending a company of Europe-based soldiers back to Iraq before the unit has had a full 12 months of ‘dwell time,’ or at-home rest. Members of the 1st Armored Division’s 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry, Company A, learned Tuesday that they are scheduled to head back to Iraq in November, just nine months after the 150-soldier company left the combat zone in February after a 13-month deployment.” […]

According to [Pentagon spokesman Bryan] Whitman, the 12-month rest period between deployments “is a goal,” not a guarantee.

Yes, I know that once an individual signs their enlistment contract with the Army the phrase "needs of the service" overrules any other word in that contract. I know that Sec. Gates' word was not a legally binding promise. I know that, but this deployment has to be doing wonders for morale as the unit in question is not responding to an emergency situation or an unanticipated need for troops that could not have been forseen six months ago. Instead, they are being sent as part of a normal process, so how many other units will do their full tour, and then get short-shafted on the already short shaft that they drew?

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