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Monday, November 06, 2006

WaPo: Army Reserves Feel the Pinch of Increased Operation Tempo

From yesterday's Washington Post front page:

The Army's National Guard and Reserve are bracing for possible new and accelerated call-ups, spurred by high demand for U.S. troops in Iraq, that leaders caution could undermine the citizen-soldier force as it struggles to rebuild. ...

Next year, the number of Army Guard soldiers providing security in Iraq will surge to more than 6,000 in about 50 companies, compared with 20 companies two years ago, Guard officials said. "We thought we'd see a downturn in operational tempo, but that hasn't happened," said one official. ...


Continuing:

Stress on soldiers and their families is mounting as active-duty combat brigades now spend only a year to 14 months home between rotations, compared with a goal of two years -- a trend that Army leaders worry is not sustainable in the long term. Reserve and Guard units are staying home on average three years, compared with a goal of four or five, Army officials said. 'It goes without question that Guard brigade combat teams are going to have to deploy again to theater in less time than the . . . model originally called for,' said retired Air National Guard Brig. Gen. Stephen M. Koper, president of the National Guard Association.

Yet ordering more citizen-soldiers out of their communities and into war zones imposes a special burden, as reservists are older and more likely to have families and civilian jobs, and must also shoulder the task of responding to homeland disasters and other emergencies.

Ann Scott Tyson writes a solid report well worth a read.

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