It’s been a rough decade for soldiers. Many have deployed to the war zones numerous times, leaving family behind. When they came home, many soon were rushed back into training and other duties, then shuttled back to the wars. The operational tempo has taken a toll on the soldiers and their families.
Now the budget crunch that’s crimping Army spending is producing at least one benefit: four-year duty assignments, a big jump from today’s average of 30 months.
That’s great news for Army families who want to put down roots, for spouses pursuing careers, and parents who want to keep the kids in one school system longer and enjoy some stability on the home front. It’s also a plus for assignments, planning and unit cohesion.
“A soldier is deployed for one year of their tour — and soldiers at some places do back-to-back tours,” said Sgt. 1st Class Giovanni Robinson, a military policeman en route to Kuwait — his sixth permanent change-of-station move in 17 years. “If I have soldiers with four-year duty assignments, I have continuity. If I know I am going to keep an individual for a while, I have a chance to truly mentor and nurture that career.”
All of which saves the Army a fortune. A reprogramming request now before Congress includes a roughly $100 million reduction in PCS travel, reflecting fewer PCS moves, which will increase time on station at most stateside installations.
Army leadership would be wise to conduct a broader evaluation of how it assigns and moves people — it’s likely there are more opportunities to reap big savings and guarantee greater stability for soldiers and their families.