ARLINGTON, Va. — Troops from the 2nd Infantry Division who are headed to Iraq from South Korea will not lose their $300 monthly Assignment Incentive Pay bonus while deployed, a senior Army personnel official said Monday.

They’ll continue to receive that pay, “even if they are deployed,” said Army Col. Elton Manske, Chief of the Enlisted Division in the Army’s Directorate for Military Personnel Policy.

Army officials announced the AIP program in March, offering an additional $300 per month for soldiers who volunteered to extend their tours in South Korea by 12 months. Soldiers had a 60-day window, from March 12 to May 12, to sign up for the program.

“Approximately 8,000 from across the peninsula” took advantage of the offer, Manske said in an upcoming interview with the Pentagon Channel.

Just last week, Pentagon officials confirmed South Korean government reports that about 3,600 soldiers from the 2nd ID’s 2nd Brigade would be redeployed from South Korea to Iraq later this summer.

The unexpected announcement raised a host of issues for 8th Army troops, such as how follow-on assignments will be affected by the deployment, the fate of any scheduled schooling and re-enlistment assignment issues.

“Because this is a very new decision, the mission analysis is still ongoing here at the Pentagon with the Army staff, and with 8th Army,” Manske said.

Army officials hope to have answers by the first week in June, when a “personnel management assistance team” from the Army’s Human Resources Command will travel to Korea to meet with the 8th Army’s personnel command, 8th Army leadership, and soldiers “to get into the details, specifically, down to the soldier level … of what happens next,” Manske said.

As for any dependents now living in South Korea, “at the present time … there’s no expectation to immediately advance-return family members,” to the United States while the servicemember is in Iraq, Manske said.

However, “the Army does have policies which allow” advance return, he said.

Both the Army [Army Regulations 5546] and the Defense Department [Joint Federal Travel Regulation Chapter 5] have policies that govern the advance return of dependents. Families usually must return to the United States from overseas with their sponsor, except under specific circumstances.

These policies took on a new importance in April, when the Pentagon announced that soldiers from the Germany-based 1st Armored Division would be retained in Iraq through at least August, complicating the schools issues for some.

Army personnel officials went back to the policies to see if there was a way to help such families.

In April, the Army issued a message that said any family scheduled to rotate back to the United States between May 1 and Sept. 31, but whose soldier’s tour in Iraq has been delayed, would be authorized to return before the servicemember comes back from deployment.

Now Army officials are looking at ways the advance-return policies might apply to families that face a similar situation in rotations back from South Korea, Manske said.

“I’m certain as we get further into the mission analysis, if soldiers decide that that’s how they want their family members to proceed, we’ll be able to do that,” Manske said.

Another issue still to be determined is whether stop loss — which prevents involuntary separations from the military — will be in effect for the 2nd ID soldiers who deploy, Manske said.

Yet while “there’s no final determination as to whether stop loss will apply,” Manske said, “I have to be totally honest: the Army has been using stop loss for deploying units in some form or fashion since November 2001, and it is likely stop loss will continue,” he said.

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