Pentagon extends Iraq deployments to 15 months

041107iraq.jpgU.S. soldiers will serve up to 15 months in Iraq and Afghanistan instead of one year, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on Wednesday, the latest sign of the strain the wars have placed on the U.S. military.

Gates said the move would allow the military to sustain the boost in U.S. forces in Iraq, ordered by President George W. Bush in January, for about a year if desired but it was too early to say how long the increased troop levels actually would be needed.

“Our forces are stretched, there’s no question about that,” Gates said.

“I realize this decision will ask a lot of our Army troops and their families,” he said.

Gates portrayed the policy as an effort to make deployments more predictable for troops and their families. Previously, the Pentagon has had to extend tours of duty for individual units or send them earlier than planned to maintain force levels.

But the administration’s critics said the decision was a blow to the military, the troops and their families.

“This new policy will be an additional burden to an already overstretched Army,” said Rep. Ike Skelton, a Democrat who chairs the Armed Services Committee in the House of Representatives.

“I think this will have a chilling effect on recruiting, retention and readiness. We also must not underestimate the enormous negative impact this will have on Army families.”

Democrats seeking an end to the unpopular Iraq war want Bush to set a timetable for withdrawal. The administration says troops can only leave when Iraq has stabilized or U.S. national security will be in jeopardy.

Gates said all troops serving in the region covered by U.S. Central Command — stretching from East Africa across the Middle East and into Central Asia — could expect to be deployed for up to 15 months and spend 12 months at home.

The policy is effective immediately and also applies to units already in the region, he said.

The new policy on deployments applies only to the active duty Army and not to the National Guard or Marine Corps.

National Guard troops should be mobilized for up to a year and Marines currently deploy for seven months followed by six months at home, the Pentagon says.

There are currently some 145,000 U.S. troops in Iraq and 25,000 in Afghanistan.

As part of Bush’s plan, the U.S. military is the midst of boosting its Iraq force by 28,000 combat and support troops.

Previously, the Pentagon had enough troops in place to maintain that increase until August but many analysts expect it to last longer.

“Whether it will be kept in place depends entirely on the conditions on the ground,” Gates said.

The Pentagon’s goal for active duty Army troops is that they spend two years at home for every year deployed, but it has not been able to meet that target in recent years.

At the moment, Army units average about a year at home for every year deployed, Pentagon officials say.

In an effort to tackle the strains on the military, Gates earlier this year ordered an increase in the size of both the Army and the Marine Corps.

Copyright © 2007 Reuters Limited


  1. The South Point

    Uranium poisoning is no joke, lady. It is truly one damn nasty thing to have. And your spousal unit will almost certainly be affected and/or afflicted by it with some degree. Up to including dying from it and being a possible parent to deformed babies because of genetic damage. I would highly recommend you start researching DU and what it does. You will not be pleased or so ready to wave the flag of patriotism, doing the my-country-right-or-wrong routine.

    The only reason the USA is in the Middle East is for the sake of oil and war profiteering. And because those in the White House have a streak of sadism a mile wide. The scuttlebutt was that images and videos of the sadism that went on in the prisons made it back to the Pentagon and the White House for masturbation pleasure. We have some true sickos in the top levels. Those “real leaders” are hypocrites and some are genuinely evil.

    And start researching the 9/11 events for yourself so you will have a better understanding of what really happened.

    Just start surfing the links, going from one place to the next, to the next, to the next. Use a search engine to get more information.

    Good luck, lady. You have a lot of work ahead of you. And if you’re still of child-bearing age and plan to have future children, get a uranium test done on your spousal unit. I hear it’s not cheap, but you’ll need the information to make your choices as what you will do. If the test is positive, you may want to forget having children.

  2. The South Point

    Instead of only 12 months of exposure to uranium poisoning and contamination, now they’ll get an extra 3 months.

    Those lucky dawgs!

    Jeepers! I feel so envious! But then, who wouldn’t?

  3. SEAL

    Isn’t it wondeful how our commander n decider supports his troops? They sure are a lucky bunch of soldiers. Just think! They would not have that extra 3 months of Mid East vacation time if those unpatriotic democrats were in charge. They wouldn’t have all those war toys to play with or be able to watch those bombs blow people up. What a wonderful president they have!

  4. gene

    [Gates].. says he realizes this will be an increase burden on soldiers and families, well big f**king deal on what YOU think bonehead. You could care less alone with your neocon master, Bushidiot and Cheneymoron. None of you care, in fact it was this crowd (our true enemy) that destroyed the twin towers. Look at the documentaries on google videos.
    If congress does not act [soon] to impeach both cheney and bush then who knows except to say we are in a shit load of troube. This country may have reached a point where it may not be possible to save it.

  5. Ray

    How could anyone still think that Bu$hco Inc. wouldn’t be so evil as to be involved in the 911 massacre of innocent americans just to use it for a reason for war. Heartless and evil little man who went awol when it was his duty to serve. And second in command shirked his duty by buying deferments. Bush nor Cheney are worthy to fill thier positions.

    How could anyone not see where this is going. Welcome to the world of war. A ficticous war against a ficticous enemy. The traitors in the white house are determined to ruin America morally, and financially. Those are necessary deeds in the prelude to destruct an entire democracy.

    Can America really take anymore ruinous actions of the Bu$h Bunch?

  6. Wendy

    This administration continues to demonstrate its heartlessness and lack of compassion by extending the “time served” by our military in Iraq. I fully believe that this is being done in retaliation against Congress’s investigation of their underhanded maneuvers and lies as well as Congress’s bills to force Bush Inc. to toe the line in accordance to the Constitution they so despise. Bush doesn’t care who he walks over or crushes to get what he wants. He and his cartel shed crocodile tears over tragedy even as they sell out those who are suffering. Then they’ll blame the Democrats for the actions they take. I don’t think I’ve seen a group of adults behave so openly like a gang of unruly children in my life. A most despicable lot who deserve nothing less than long-term imprisonment.

  7. kitchen cynic

    W & co must have noticed that many people were comparing Iraq to ‘Nam so W & co’s Pentagon REMF’s made a policy change 15 month tours for RA grunts to replace 12 month tours. I wonder if po’ed RA grunts will respond by fragging officers, senior NCO’s AND reserve-NG troops. Another divisive measure by the uniter W.

  8. Bill Robinson

    Wazzamattau? Don’t act so surprised! Anyone with half a brain could see that those 30,000 were just a predecessor to test the resolve of Congress and the American People. Both failed miserably. Shame on them and shame on us.
    The funding should have been cut, the money withdrawn. It would not be disloyal to our noble warriors, it would be the right thing to do.
    No money means they can’t stay. They can’t stay means they must go. They must go, well, where?
    Home! The USA. Bring them home NOW!
    We didn’t do it. So now what? First step, extend the tour of duty. Second step, more troops. Sure, I said MORE troops. More targets for the Iraquis to kill for what we did to their country. More men and women = more money. More money = more to steal. Bush and Cheney steal MORE. Get Richer.
    While we talk and complain, they pocket our money. Bush once called a reporter an “asshole” when Bush was campaigning during election #1. I wouldn’t be surprised if both he and Cheney are calling us all “Assholes” for sitting back and putting up with their lying, theiving, stealing duplicitious acts of treason.
    Write your Congressmen. Force them to act. Get the Impeachment process started NOW. It is never too soon and it is never too late. The time to act is NOW. NO = No on W. Don’t be an asshole forever. Act. Say NO NOW.

  9. Ray

    Cariann, I thank soldiers for thier commitment in defense of our free nation. But our soldiers are not being used for defense. Saddam had nothing to do with 911. Bin Laudin had nothing to do with it otherwise the FBI would have enough evidence to issue an arrest warrant, but they don’t have any evidence. The evidence of 911 was quickly trucked away and sent to china and was never analyzed. Seven of the socalled highjackers are alive and well. I’m sorry Cariann that your family is sacrificing and I pray your husband returns safely, the sooner the better. You have been truly misled concerning 911, the phoney war on terror, and the slaughter of Iraqi people. Your president does not give a dam about anybody in this country including the troops he places in harms way for illegal and immoral purposes. Iraq was no threat whatsoever. Al Quida is arabic for ” the list ” That is what the CIA refered to as freedom fighters that we trained to fight against the soviet occupation of afganistan. Yes, CIA operatives. The US has armed and trained thousands of them. That is where they learned to make roadside bombs.

    You can thank George Bush sr for developing radical islamic terrorists to start trouble throughout the world and giving the US an excuse to profit from its wars. That is what its all about. I hope your man returns to you unharmed.

  10. erika morgan

    My heart aches for your delusion and you and your family’s sacrifice, My prayers are with you.

  11. erika morgan

    My heart aches for your delusion and you and your family’s sacrifice, My prayers are with you.