Dwell time doesn’t apply to individual soldiers
July 7, 2007
BAUMHOLDER, Germany — Sgt. Troy Tweed is new to the 1st Armored Division’s Company A, 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry, but he finds himself in the same situation as long-serving members of the unit who are scheduled for a return to Iraq well before receiving their full year of rest at home.
Just like Company A, Tweed returned from his last deployment in February. At the time, Tweed was serving with the 1st Battalion, 36th Infantry, which was part of the 1st AD’s now inactivated 1st Brigade.
Tweed said Friday that he is one of many former 1st Brigade soldiers who are slated to redeploy between three and four months early because of their new assignments with the 2nd Brigade out of Baumholder.
“Personally, I think some of the soldiers got a raw deal. It feels like the individual situation of soldiers isn’t taken into account. You’re just a number,” said Tweed, who already has done four tours downrange — two in Iraq, two in Afghanistan.
Tweed, 32, said he’s fine with doing a fifth deployment. He would just prefer that he and other soldiers get the dwell time they deserve.
From infantry soldiers to cooks and mechanics, a drove of former 1st Brigade soldiers have been assigned to Baumholder. Some have already arrived; others are still on the way.
About five former 1st Brigade soldiers have been assigned to the 1-6’s Company A, according to members of the unit. There could be more coming, soldiers said. U.S. Army Europe on Friday could not provide statistics quantifying how many former 1st Brigade soldiers will be deployed before receiving their 12 months of dwell time.
In recent weeks, much attention has been given to the plight of soldiers in the roughly 150-member Company A, which will miss a third straight Christmas if it deploys three months early.
The early deployment of the unit, however, would be at odds with the Pentagon’s policy that no unit returns to Iraq before 12 months at home.
Soldiers like Tweed, though, fall through the cracks since the policy on dwell time applies to units and not individual soldiers. When a brigade inactivates, there is the potential for large numbers of soldiers to be impacted by premature deployments.
USAREUR officials have said dwell time is a major factor when assigning soldiers to deploying units, but that the mission must always be the top priority. The challenge is balancing the requirements of the Army, which is rotating units into and out of war zones, with an individual replacement system, and sometimes those two interests conflict.
With Company A, it is unclear whether the unit will indeed head downrange in November. If the unit is to go, USAREUR first must submit a special waiver request to the Pentagon, which then must be reviewed and approved by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. As of Tuesday, the Pentagon still had not received such a request.
Meanwhile, USAREUR continues to be silent on whether it intends to seek the waiver, arguing that such communications are not to be made public.
On Friday, Company A soldiers said they have not been informed of any changes regarding their scheduled November deployment.
Stars and Stripes reporter Kevin Dougherty contributed to this report.