ARLINGTON, Va. — Airmen deployed to remote areas like Iraq or Afghanistan for more than 180 days will get credit for serving one permanent change-of-station, unaccompanied short tour, according to a new Air Force policy.

Air Force officials decided to institute the temporary policy in order to protect airmen “who have just spent six months in a war zone [from having] to have to turn around as soon as they get home and go off and serve a remote tour without their families,” Master Sgt. Randy Mitchell, a spokesman for the Air Force’s personnel center at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, said in a Friday telephone interview.

The Air Force has a number of bases in places like Korea and Turkey where personnel are usually assigned on a one-year, unaccompanied basis.

When no one volunteers to staff a given remote assignment, the Air Force uses a rotating system to spread the pains evenly as possible.

People who have already served a remote PCS are lower down on the list than people who have not done so.

Because some Air Force career fields have more remote assignment possibilities than others — security personnel, for example, who are needed at all bases — the odds of getting a remote assignment depend on the total number of airmen in that career field versus the total number of remote assignments worldwide, Mitchell explained.

The new policy is an exception to current policy, which only authorizes short-tour credit for airmen accumulating 300 or more days on temporary duty overseas during an 18-month period.

Now, the credit will go to any airmen who went TDY starting on or after Sept. 11, 2001, for at least 181 consecutive days at an overseas location designated as a hostile-fire or imminent-danger pay area.

The credit isn’t automatic, though. Airmen must first complete their TDY travel voucher and then go apply at the flight personnel employment element at their permanent duty station.

The last time the Air Force put this policy in place was during operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

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