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The Army is working on plans to cut combat zone deployments to nine months and increase dwell time to three years, but such a rotation schedule will take years to implement, Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey told the Army Times.

During an exclusive interview earlier this month, Casey said that 12-month tours are too long and that repeated deployments have taken a toll on the Army’s troops and families.

“We’re actively studying right now the timing and the possibilities of going to nine-month deployments as a standard,” Casey told the Army Times. “Fifteen months is too long. Twelve months is too long to sustain indefinitely. Six months is too short.”

However, the Army is unlikely to fully implement the nine-month deployment plan until 2014, Casey said.

Twelve-month deployments have been the standard for the Army for most of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2007, the Army extended deployments to 15 months as part of a troop surge in Iraq.

The Army also has struggled to ensure that soldiers get sufficient time to recuperate. Frequently, troops have been forced to deploy with less than two years at home.

Expanding dwell time to 36 months should help soldiers better recover from the rigors of combat, Casey told the Army Times.

“We’ve done these mental health assessment team studies for six years now — between nine and 12 [months] is where a lot of the stress problems really manifest themselves, where the family problems really manifest themselves,” Casey said.

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