A new, shortened deployment cycle scheduled to begin next year will not affect the Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion’s upcoming fall deployment to Iraq, Fort Stewart officials said.
“Beginning Jan. 1, 2012, the Army will transition to nine-month deployments, ‘boots on the ground’ policy,” Fort Stewart spokesman Kevin Larson said. “The 3rd Infantry Division Headquarters will begin deploying to Iraq later this year before the new policy is implemented. Because the division headquarters is deploying before the implementation of the new policy, it falls under the current policy of 12-month deployments. Although we don’t know at this time how long the 3rd Infantry Division Headquarters will be deployed, our soldiers and families should be prepared for a yearlong deployment.”
Army Secretary John M. McHugh signed the directive last week to shorten deployment cycles.
3rd ID Commander Maj. Gen. Abe Abrams has said he and other deploying battalion members will assist in the U.S. military’s final drawdown in Iraq, unless the Iraqi government requests that U.S. forces remain beyond the Dec. 31 drawdown deadline.
Col. Roger Cloutier, currently serving as deputy commanding general of maneuver, has been tagged to serve as rear division commander during the deployment. Abrams announced Cloutier’s rear-command position in July.
The nine-month deployment policy will give soldiers more time at home between deployments, according to a defense department news release. Currently, deployment cycles typically last 12 months with a 24-month dwell time.
“This change will be fully implemented by April 2012 and applies to division level and below units,” the release states. “The reduced deployment length will improve soldier and family quality of life while continuing to meet operational requirements and is an important step in sustaining the all-volunteer force.”
The policy change will affect soldiers in all named operations, including Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, the Army News Service reported. Reservists and National Guard units also will adopt the shortened deployment cycle, according to the Army News Service. However, these units could be mobilized for a year or more and only spend nine months deployed, the news service reported.
“Implementation of this change is based on the projected demand for Army forces and remains contingent on global security conditions and combatant commanders’ requirements,” Army spokesperson Lt. Col. Peggy Kageleiry said.
Soldiers deploying for the nine-month cycle will not receive R&R, but may be granted emergency leave and leave for special circumstances, according to the Army News Service.
“This policy will enhance operational success by reducing the friction that comes with having 10 percent of a commander’s personnel being away on leave in the middle of a deployment,” Kageleiry said. “Operational continuity is enhanced, and risk to the individual soldier is reduced by not having to move a warrior around on the battlefield to go on leave.”
Corps units and above and individual augmentee deployments will remain at 12-month deployments, the Army News Service reported. Most augmentees, such as those with unique skills or in low-density skill sets, likely will deploy for a full year, according to the Army News Service.