WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Army is setting a six-month limit on deployment of both active-duty and reserve units sent overseas on temporary assignments.
Members of the National Guard and Army Reserve currently are deployed abroad for up to nine months, the maximum allowed by federal law. Active-duty units normally rotate after six months, but the service has set no official time limit until now.
The Army chief of staff, Gen. Eric Shinseki, will formally disclose the policy Tuesday during a ceremony in Bosnia at which the 49th Armored Division of the Texas National Guard will take command of U.S. peacekeeping operations from the 10th Mountain Division, a regular Army unit, a spokesman said Sunday.
To underscore the significance of the new policy for the reservists, Maj. Gen. Roger C. Schultz, director of the Army National Guard, and Maj. Gen. Thomas J. Plewes, chief of the Army Reserve, will join Shinseki for the announcement, said the spokesman, Col. Edwin Veiga.
Limiting overseas duty to six months is meant to ease the burden of long deployments on soldiers, their families and, in the case of guardsmen and reservists, their regular employers.
Since the end of the Cold War, as the active-duty force has shrunk by more than one-third, the National Guard and Reserve have been called upon more regularly to support not only combat operations but also peacekeeping.
Except when they are called for overseas duty, reservists are obligated to serve in uniform only one weekend a month and two weeks each summer. Reservists now are serving in three major overseas operations: peacekeeping missions in Bosnia and Kosovo, in the Balkans and in the Persian Gulf area, where pilots are patrolling the skies of Iraq.
The Army's six-month limit on overseas deployments will apply only to missions other than war, Veiga said. In the event of war, the Army could keep National Guard and Reserve units overseas for up to nine months.
And for active-duty personnel, it applies only those in units assigned to non-permanent deployments -- such as peacekeeping and other temporary missions -- as opposed to long-term Army commitments in places like Germany and South Korea.
The new policy brings the Army more in line with the other services. The Air Force generally keeps its reserve units abroad for no more than three months. The Navy and Marine Corps do not deploy as many reservists in peacetime as the Army and Air Force, but the Navy as a matter of policy keeps its sailors at sea for no more than six months at a time.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.