The Commons is a weblog for concerned citizens of southeast Iowa and their friends around the world. It was created to encourage grassroots networking and to share information and ideas which have either been suppressed or drowned out in the mainstream media.

"But if the cause be not good, the king himself hath a heavy reckoning to make, when all those legs and arms and heads, chopped off in battle, shall join together at the latter day and cry all 'We died at such a place;' some swearing, some crying for a surgeon, some upon their wives left poor behind them, some upon the debts they owe, some upon their children rawly left. I am afeard there are few die well that die in a battle; for how can they charitably dispose of any thing, when blood is their argument? Now, if these men do not die well, it will be a black matter for the king that led them to it; whom to disobey were against all proportion of subjection." (Henry V, Act V, Scene 4)

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Army sending soldiers back to Iraq, cutting ‘dwell time’

Army sending soldiers back to Iraq, cutting ‘dwell time’
1st Armored Division company deploying again in November

By Lisa Burgess, and John Vandiver, Stars and Stripes
Mideast edition, Thursday, May 10, 2007



Have you had a “dwell time” bust? Tell us about it at dicksonp@stripes.osd.mil

ARLINGTON, Va. — 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.

The company’s return would seem to counter a pledge made by Defense Secretary Robert Gates on April 11, when he announced that all active-duty soldiers will spend 15 months in Iraq and Afghanistan, instead of a year.

The primary reason for the extension, Gates said, was to make sure that Army units, and their personnel, had enough time to rest and renew themselves for the fight between deployments.

“What we’re trying to do here is provide some long-term predictability for the soldiers and their families about how long their deployments will be and how long they will be at home, and particularly guaranteeing that they will be at home for a full 12 months,” Gates said April 11.

But asked late Wednesday about the situation, Gates said he could not explain why the Army was sending back the company from Germany just nine months after its last Iraq deployment.

“I'll be very interested in finding out more about that,” Gates said. “We just need to find out about that, because I made it clear that people would have 12 months at home.”

It was the Army who asked for the change to 15-month deployments, because “we need to now maintain the sanctity of those 12 months” at home station, Army Lt. Gen. James Lovelace, the Army’s chief of operations, told Pentagon reporters April 12.

“This is about winning,” Lovelace said. “It’s about ensuring then that [units] are trained, ready, [and] equipped … And we do that by maintaining the 12 months dwell back at home station.”

But when the Department of Defense announced Tuesday that the 2nd Brigade Combat Team was slated for a November deployment, it looked like Company A of the 1/6 was going to be spending another Christmas far from home.

In addition to the personal sacrifice for the families, that also meant the company was going to get three months less to do the kind of training and preparation that Lovelace had identified as critical.

Army officials could not immediately explain Wednesday how an entire company had gotten into the Iraq deployment queue early.

Instead, the Army provided this statement Wednesday:

“The brigade and division staffs are continuously reviewing both individual and unit issues and deployment cycles to ensure a fair and equitable deployment process, and making adjustments when appropriate and necessary,” 1st Armored Division spokeswoman Maj. Peggy Kageleiry wrote in a prepared statement.

It remains unclear whether that review means that Company A soldiers could have their dwell time extended to the promised 12 months.

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman confirmed Wednesday that “there are some people, just by the nature of transferring units and things like that may not end up with the full 12 months.”

“The United States military is not a static organization,” Whitman said.

The Army, Whitman said, is “managing intensely” “individuals in units, and assignment policies, and rotations and things like that.”

“But it’s not going to be 100 percent, or you would have to basically, you know, lock down the Army, and nobody would transfer from one combat unit to another combat unit,” Whitman said.

Rather than a guarantee, Whitman said, the 12-month dwell time between deployments “is a goal, to have units and individuals to have an appropriate amount of time for recovery and for stability purposes at home station and to be able to be with their families.”

http://www.stripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article=45750

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