Army Considers Longer Combat Tours Again

Just weeks after announcing shorter tours to provide more stability for its troops, the Army is contemplating longer tours.

The Army is considering whether it will have to extend the combat tours of troops in
Iraq if President Bush opts to maintain the recent buildup of forces through spring 2008. Acting Army Secretary Pete Geren testified Tuesday that the service is reviewing other options, including relying more heavily on Army reservists or Navy and Air Force personnel, so as not to put more pressure on a stretched active-duty force.

Most soldiers spend 15 months in combat with a guaranteed 12 months home, a rotation plan that already has infuriated Democrats because it exceeds the service’s goal of giving troops equal time home as in combat. In coming weeks, the Senate will vote on a proposal by Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., that would restrict deployments.

“It’s too early to look into the next year, but for the Army we have to begin to plan,” Geren told the
Senate Armed Services Committee. “We have to look into our options.”

It may well be that longer tours and more Reserve call-ups are simply logistically demanded by the operations tempo. You’d think, though, that Pentagon planners would have been able to figure that out before announcing a policy of doing just the opposite.

FILED UNDER: Iraq War, Military Affairs, , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Triumph says:

    Just weeks after announcing shorter tours to provide more stability for its troops,

    Won’t longer tours actually promote more stability? With guys shifting in and out, the Army loses soldiers with valuable experience. I am not sure why they are shifted out of combat at all. Other than a two week vacation, they should be kept where the Army needs them–not slacking it stateside because of some arbitrary limit set by a bureaucrat somewhere.

  2. Michael says:

    Yeah, I’m sure 2 weeks vacation will more than make up for the 102 weeks of being shot at. Good thing you’re over there 24/7/365 instead of slacking stateside, right?

    In light of all this, does anyone still think the “surge” was anything more than a way to increase permanent troop levels by disguising it as a more acceptable “temporary” increase? Who here thinks we’ll be reducing the number of troops in Iraq by any significant amount before 2009?

  3. another matt says:

    I believe the military slang for this is BOHICA.

  4. Mike says:

    For some reason my prior responses are not appearing – Triumph, i hope you are joking about the “slacking stateside” – go visit an Army installation between rotations to the sandbox.