Army to reduce deployment time in warzone to nine months
US Army soldiers on patrol in Afghanistan. Beginning in 2012, soldiers' deployments in Afghanistan will be reduced to 9 months. (US Army Photo)
August 5th, 2011
02:10 PM ET

Army to reduce deployment time in warzone to nine months

By Larry Shaughnessy
CNN Pentagon Producer

WASHINGTON (CNN) – The Army announced Friday that it will reduce the typical soldier’s deployment time in Afghanistan from one year to nine months. It’s a move that could help soldiers better deal with stress and help reduce family problems at home.

“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,” Army Secretary John McHugh said in a statement released Friday afternoon.

The length of deployments has been a focus of concern for years at the Pentagon. When then Secretary of Defense Robert Gates announced in 2007 that Army deployments in Iraq had been extended to 15 months, he called the decision difficult. Since then, the typical soldier’s deployment has been set again at 12 months, until Friday’s announcement.

Numerous studies have looked at the impact of long, repeated deployments for troops. In 2009, Gen. Peter Chiarelli testified in a Senate hearing that we’re dealing with a tired and stressed force, and the effect, in the most extreme cases, has been, unfortunately, an increased incidence of suicide.”

Chiarelli is the Army’s Vice Chief of Staff and the point man for the Army on issues related to mental health and suicide prevention.

“I and the other senior leaders of the Army recognize that we must find ways to relieve some of this stress, particularly the stress caused by deployments and frequent lengthy periods of separation,” Chiarelli said.

Repeated long deployments also have been blamed for an increase in divorce among soldiers and increased anxiety among their children.

The new policy goes into effect by April 2012. Any soldiers who are currently deployed or will deploy before the new year, will still have to serve a 12 month deployment.

It will not apply to soldiers serving overseas in places like South Korea or Germany. And it will not apply to Marines, sailors or airmen. In fact, it won’t even apply to all soldiers. Army Special Forces soldiers already serve shorter deployments but they serve in much more hostile environments and they deploy more frequently.

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Gates • Military • Secretary of Defense
soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. OregonTom

    Bring our men and women home.

    August 16, 2011 at 11:58 am | Reply
  2. liz

    BRING HOME THE TROOPS NOW!!!! Help them here at home. Young soldiers just finished high school are losing their lives for what? US is broke because of too much spending in other country. Secure our borders that is what you are supposed to do., not babysit the whole world in the expense of our taxes. Do something for the people of America.

    August 6, 2011 at 12:42 pm | Reply
  3. ZoeD_24

    This is an improvement on policy and will help the individuals serving. My husband is an officer in the military and I agree that this new rule is nice. I also think that we should get out of there, but until that time, this is an improvement. However, for those who are still saying that nine months is too long, remember this: your spouse signed up for this. Our military is all volunteer. I'm also going to assume that you voluntarily married your spouse, so you knew that deployments were a part of his or her life. Instead of whining about it, try to be supportive of them and handle business back home.

    August 6, 2011 at 12:39 pm | Reply
  4. ARMY MOM

    The REAL truth is my Son is on his 4th deployment and currently in Afghanistan working with the Afghan police. The Afghan police do not care. My Son's pod is in an remote area. There are No supply routes everything is dropped in.
    Supplies run low their "FOOD" as Military familes we try and send them packages to hold them over, however many times our boys dont get it because it was stolen in route. They go many times with out power, the boys have to sleep all in one houch because its the only A.C. that works and its still CRAP!! Within a 3 month period my Son has recieved 2 Purple Hearts/ by IED and Suicide bombers and to think he has 6 months to go breaks my heart!!! Where does this madness END and at what cost? " WE WANT OUR SON'S HOME"!!!! THEY HAVE SUFFERED ENOUGH!!!! Proud ARMY MOM

    August 6, 2011 at 12:32 pm | Reply
    • navywife71

      hang in there! I completely agree with you. I just want them home!!!! Your son should be very proud of his accomplishments. Prayers to you that he comes home safely and soon.

      August 6, 2011 at 1:12 pm | Reply
  5. Joy

    Bring ALL the troops home NOW !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    August 6, 2011 at 12:31 pm | Reply
  6. gramtx

    For we Families that wait and for our military 9 mos is still too long...

    August 6, 2011 at 11:58 am | Reply
    • ZoeD_24

      Maybe while your family member (spouse I assume) is deployed, you should take a basic high school course in grammar.

      August 6, 2011 at 12:36 pm | Reply
      • Barbara Walter

        Well aren't you a bitch!

        August 6, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
      • navywife71

        ZoeD you simply need CLASS. military families should stick together. i noticed in another post that you are an officer's wife. you should be ashamed for the stuff you spout out on here.

        August 6, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
      • Louise

        I love reading these articles because they're short but inforamivte.

        September 8, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
  7. Evelyn Perez

    9 months? when many are already suffering of anxiety disorder.
    Time to have all of them back to the states. Dying for a cause?
    What are they waiting for? A Vietnam ...casualties?

    August 6, 2011 at 11:51 am | Reply
  8. a warrior's wife

    We are wasting precious lives and resources! For what?

    BIN LADEN IS DEAD! It's time for all to come HOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    August 6, 2011 at 11:40 am | Reply
  9. a warrior's wife

    This is BS! The "wars" are BS! Ending it is what needs to happen! WHERE IS THE CHANGE!????

    August 6, 2011 at 11:37 am | Reply
  10. Dennis Taylor

    Better yet, let's just get the @&*# out!

    August 6, 2011 at 11:13 am | Reply
  11. John Kaufman, Oceanside, CA

    The sad truth is being constantly deployed is like playing Russian roulett, eventually you get the bullet and then you are either dead or wounded to varying degree. Pathetic, and for what? No its not to fight terrorism for terrorism is all over the world. Take a look at this God forsaken country, its only asset is natural mineral resourses and to get those in the current situation where the Taliban control most of the country is not going to happen. When the US leaves this country, which it will, it will all go back to the way it was 10 years ago and Washington is to stupid to recognize this.

    August 6, 2011 at 10:50 am | Reply

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