PYEONGTAEK, South Korea — Defense Department civilians will now be able to serve tours of up to three years with their families in most parts of South Korea, officials said Monday.

About 3,000 civilians work for DOD in South Korea. The change applies to the 2,800 or so employees in the Appropriated Funds personnel category, regardless of which branch of service they work for, officials said.

The longer tours are part of the U.S. military’s recent drive to station personnel in South Korea for longer periods and accompanied by their families, an effort known as tour normalization.

Until recently, most active-duty troops served one-year tours without families. But those with families may now serve two- and three-year tours.

Most Defense Department civilians in South Korea accompanied by families served two-year tours, and some were even shorter.

“We want the civilian tours to mirror the military tours to the extent possible,” said John McCrarey, director of human resources management for Eighth U.S. Army.

“It really is in keeping with the commander’s intent that Korea be considered a normal duty station. It’s similar to what they do in Europe as well — it’s three-year tours.”

The new longer tours include the possibility of extensions, officials said.

However, the affected employees are still subject to the Defense Department’s policy guidance that limits them to five years of consecutive service in an overseas location, unless a commander grants an exception, McCrarey said.

The Pentagon in August approved a U.S. Forces-Korea request for the longer tours, and USFK put them into effect last month, he said.

In the Seoul and Daegu regions, civilians had been allowed two-year tours accompanied by families. USFK may now offer three-year tours.

In the Pyeongtaek region, tours had been one-year unaccompanied, but now may be three years accompanied.

Civilians in the region north of Seoul had been restricted to one-year unaccompanied tours. Under the new policy they may now serve two years accompanied.

Most of the 150 Air Force civilian jobs affected are those at Osan and Kunsan air bases, as well as a few at other sites around the peninsula, said Mark Shores, civilian personnel officer at Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek.

Officials expect the change to benefit both the employees and the organizations they work for.

“I think from the employees’ perspective, you have some stability, that you know that you’re going to be there for a full three-year period,” McCrarey said. “From the management side, we get more stability, less turning, people coming for two years, and going.”

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