Gen. Martin Dempsey: Shorten Army Combat Tours to 9 Months – NYTimes.com

To fight the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Army has sent its troops on 12-month deployments to the combat zones, sometimes with not even a full year back home before being ordered off to fight again. Some soldiers even served 15-month stints.

Acknowledging that an exhausted ground force needs time to rest, retrain — and re-examine its mission and core values — the Army’s top officer has pledged that the service will develop plans to shorten combat tours to nine months, with 18 months between missions.

That initial ratio of deployment-versus-dwell time would be a way-point toward a goal of nine-month combat tours followed by 27 months back home.

via Gen. Martin Dempsey: Shorten Army Combat Tours to 9 Months – NYTimes.com.

Well, if you had enough troops in the Army, you could do that today. But the dwell time at home station isn’t determined so much by the length of the deployment, but rather by the total size of the force relative to the deployed strength.

That is, if the Army were twice as big (in troop units) with the same deployment load, the dwell time would automatically double.

1 thought on “Gen. Martin Dempsey: Shorten Army Combat Tours to 9 Months – NYTimes.com”

  1. Not sure that i like 9 month tours. It is better than the USMC’s 7 month tours, but the problem is what you can accomplish in 9 months. This is an issue for two reasons. First, there are two operational campaign plans for your deployment; your own, and your higher headquarters’ campaign plans, which often don’t really nest with each other. What you can do in an AO, even in a year, is pretty limited. And most units come in wanting to do their own plan. This involves a series of short-term goals because “we can’t do a lot in a year” while what they really need to be doing, but don’t, is fighting the long term plan designed by the theater commanders, and incrementally moving the ball forward. So, to use another sports analogy, the units hit a lot of singles and run to first base over and over, without ever rounding third… The locals get used to that, and see it over and over again. The second problem is, if you can’t get do much in a year, how much can you really do in 9 months? Not much. The first 6-8 weeks are spent getting used to the area, learning the basics of the tribes, politics and people. The last 6-8 weeks are spent slowing down (who wants to be the last casualty on the deployment) and handing off to your replacements. So, now we have a period of mere months in the middle in which you push hard. For the Marines, it is about 4. In this 9 month model, we would get maybe 6 months at best. Not effective to replace units that frequently. The tradeoff is not just 3 months.

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