Exiting soldiers could leave up to a year early
Published: June 7, 2012
WASHINGTON – Army officials will start discharging some soldiers up to a year before their scheduled departure date under a change in the enlisted early separation program, which went into effect this month.
Jim Bragg, chief of the Army’s Retention and Reclassification Branch, said the move is not related to planned cuts in the service’s end strength, but instead is a readiness move designed to get personnel in deploying units stabilized well before they head overseas.
The program is expected to affect about 2,000 soldiers a year, all enlisted personnel with three to six years of service. Bragg said all of the soldiers are in units scheduled to deploy in the coming months, and whose enlistment contracts are scheduled to run out during that overseas tour.
The soldiers who decide to re-enlist with their units will remain in the current posts, Bragg said, but those who opt not to re-enlist will be separated early so replacement personnel can take their place and train in advance of deployment.
The program is already in use, but until this month Army officials could only discharge troops within 90 days of their enlistment contract’s end. Commanders can also opt to keep on troops longer for “compassionate reasons,” such as civilian employment arrangements or family housing concerns.
“This is first and foremost a readiness program,” he said. “We need to get the replacements in there. These soldiers aren’t staying [in the service], and we can’t bring anyone to replace them while they’re still here.”
Bragg said soldiers who believe they may be affected by the change should request information from their unit’s career counselors.