Guard deployment change has ripple effect

Jan. 24, 2007 at 7:57 AM
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WASHINGTON, Jan. 24 (UPI) -- The U.S. Army's decision to only deploy Guard and Reserve troops for a total of 12 months is causing officials to scramble to fill future gaps in forces.

Currently, Guard and Reserve soldiers are expected to spend 12 months with "boots on the ground" in Iraq, with additional months on either end training and demobilizing. The result is that in many cases, a year-long deployment translates to 18 to 20 months of involuntary mobilization. That can be a real hardship for reservists who hold civilian jobs and whose families are not accustomed to long times apart.

Now, they will spend between seven and 10 months in Iraq, with the remaining time spent preparing and demobilizing.

That means other units already scheduled to go to Iraq will have their deployments accelerated to cover the truncated missions. An Army personnel official told UPI the change in policy will have a ripple effect through the next two years of deployments.

Lt. Gen. Stephen M Speakes, the Army deputy chief of staff for programming, materiel integration and management, told reporters Tuesday the training time for reserve units can be shortened because of another change: no longer will units be cobbled together from individual augmentees from all over the country. Instead, entire units will be mobilized at the same time, which he expects to reduce the amount of time they need to train together, as they will have already been training together for years.

"This is a compromise. There's a lot of smoothing (to be done) to force flow," Speakes said.

Active duty Army units are still deploying for 12 months, and they have a crushing pace of operations. For every year deployed, they spend only a year at home with most of that time spent training for the next year-long deployment.

"None of us like this. It's a tremendously long time to be deployed," Speakes said.

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