Unit’s deployment fate still unresolved
Stars and Stripes June 23, 2007
HEIDELBERG, Germany — Apparently no final decision has been reached on whether to send a 1st Armored Division company back to Iraq nine months after its last combat tour ended, Army officials indicated this week.
The current Army policy, adjusted in April by Defense Secretary Robert Gates, requires soldiers to deploy for 15 months instead of 12. That three-month extension is to be offset by a so-called “dwell time” of no less than a year.
“This new approach,” Gates said at the time, “will allow the Army to better support the war effort while providing a more predictable and dependable deployment schedule.” He added it was important that all soldiers “share the burden equally.”
But as things now stand, the roughly 150 soldiers of Company A, 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 1st AD will return to Iraq in November — well before they are supposed to.
When it comes to combat rotations, U.S. Army Europe “manages by units, not by individuals,” said Bruce Anderson, a command spokesman.
Still, Army officials are reviewing the matter while the 2nd Brigade continues to train and prepare for its third deployment to Iraq.
This particular company fell out of sync with the rest of the 2nd Brigade in the fall of 2005, when it was kept behind to serve as an augmenting force for the 1st Brigade based in Friedberg. That brigade, which has since inactivated, deployed to Iraq three months later in February 2006.
When 2nd Brigade returned to Baumholder last November, it did so without A Company, 1-6. The infantry company returned in February.
In a way, events seem to be conspiring against the outfit because the deployment schedule and the new 15-month tours mean the company stands to miss three successive Christmases with their families.
While dwell time is unquestionably important, it remains just one of the factors Army planners and personnel officials take into account when assembling a force for an upcoming deployment, said Col. David K. MacEwen, commander of the 1st Personnel Command.
“Every [soldier] counts. Every one has an individual story,” MacEwen said. But, ultimately, he added, it’s all about the mission. “Dwell time doesn’t override the No. 1 priority.”