Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Army Secretary Geren: Combat tours may extend past 15 months

Above: A weary Marine with 2nd Platoon, E Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines, rests in a building during Operation Zaidon II in March.

The Army is considering whether it would have to extend the combat tours of troops in Iraq if President Bush opts to maintain a recent build up 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 an already thinly 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."

Read the rest at the SF Chronicle

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Pentagon extends tours to 15 months for all active-duty army troops in Iraq, Afghanistan; Guard, Reserve, Marines excepted