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YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — On the surface, the Navy’s new Personnel Tempo of Operations Program looks like a sailor’s dream.

To preserve quality of life while meeting national obligations, the program specifies that all time spent on deployment will be matched by an equal amount of time at home.

But for some units, including those forward-deployed to 7th Fleet, things will remain business as usual.

According to the program, the reason some units fall outside its purview is due to “the uniqueness of either mission or operating cycle.”

While the instruction directs commanders to meet the program’s limits, it clearly exempts some of them from fulfilling the requirements.

“This new plan is just for CONUS units … it does not impact [forward-deployed units],” wrote 7th Fleet spokesperson Lt. Steven Curry in an e-mail to Stars and Stripes, adding that the new program would affect 7th Fleet ships only if they leave the 7th Fleet area of responsibility, which is rare.

“We just stay in our 52 million square miles of mission area and do our jobs,” Curry said.

Of the forward-deployed sailors asked, none seemed too concerned the program doesn’t apply to them.

“Over here, we’re forward-deployed,” said USS McCain Petty Officer 1st Class Robert Mccoy. “And that means being ready to go at a moment’s notice.”

“I haven’t seen my family in more than a year,” said USS Kitty Hawk Seaman Isaias Malsonado. “But over here, we are closer to the action, so it’s our job to go.”

The determining variable for the program is something referred to as “dwell.” According to the new instruction, dwell is the ratio of the number of days a unit spends between deployments to the length of its last deployment.

For aviation squadrons and detachments that deploy on an afloat unit, dwell will be calculated using departure and return dates to the afloat unit they are assigned, according to the instruction.

For units covered by the new program, there are exemptions from the one-to-one dwell-to-deployment calculation. Those include: time spent training within home training areas prior to deployment, such as deck-landing qualifications, and transit time to and from homeport for aviation squadrons and detachments that deploy afloat.

The new program does not affect emergency needs, such as natural disasters or conflicts.

Exempt units include:

Fleet ballistic missile submarines

Aviation training and fleet replacement squadrons

Military personnel assigned to Military Sealift Command ships

Permanently forward-deployed units operating with rotating crews

Navy Mobile Construction Battalions

Cryptological direct support personnel

Units covered by the new program:Aircraft carriers, surface combatants, amphibious assault ships and attack submarines

Carrier-based aircraft, maritime patrol aircraft, electronic support aircraft, and helicopter squadrons/detachments

Seagoing or deploying staffs and detachments

Special warfare units/detachments

Navy Expeditionary Combat Command units/detachments

— Chris Fowler

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