No Army units currently deployed to Iraq will have their already-extended 15 month tours prolonged even further to 18 months, a top U.S. military official said Wednesday.
In an early morning video-teleconference with family members at Fort Bliss and Fort Hood, Texas, Brig. Gen. Vincent K. Brooks — the deputy commander of 1st Cavalry Division and Multi-National Division–Baghdad — also defended the decision to extend what were yearlong combat tours.
“We are still in an Army that has to be responsive to whatever our nation calls us to do,” Brooks said in a news release about the teleconference. “The nature of a deployment beyond 12 months means that everybody will miss two of ‘something special’ dates, and I know that, for many of you, this is yet another in a lengthening series of missing something special dates.”
“This stage in a long deployment can be very challenging, and the uncertainty associated with extended deployments adds to that.”
The press release quoted Brooks as saying “no units who are currently deployed will be extended beyond 15 months, period.”
Military officials said Brooks and division officials were responding to a “media-provoked rumor” of an extension.
Many of the more than 1,500 family members who participated in the meeting had the same question: will the 1st Cav troops be home in time for Christmas?
That would all depend, Brooks said, on when flights were scheduled to take the troops home.
Throughout the war in Iraq, several units — varying in size from battalions through whole divisions — have been extended for differing lengths of time.
But on April 11, the Pentagon announced that all active-duty Army units in the Central Command area of responsibility would be extended to 15-month tours. The rationale behind that move was to allow all units a 12-month “dwell time” period back at their home stations.
All soldiers serving the new 15-month tours will receive a $1,000-per-month extension bonus for serving more than a year in theater, according to Pentagon officials.
The extensions affected troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Qatar, the Horn of Africa, and a number of other African and Middle East nations.
According to Army policy, the extension bonus kicks in on the first day of the month, so soldiers who spend even one day past the 12-month requirement will receive the $1,000 payout.