Washington, DC – Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) and Governor Kathleen Sebelius (D-KS) today said that “supporting our troops” means establishing more sustainable deployment lengths and adequate “dwell” time between deployments for our nation’s military units serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Both Webb and Sebelius have seen the extent to which erratic deployment rotations push service members to the limits of their endurance and cause significant strains at home.
After the July 4th recess, Senator Webb will introduce an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, requiring that active duty troops have at least the same time at home as the length of their previous tour of duty overseas.
“We are burning out our ground forces,” said Webb. “We are seeing it in falling retention of experienced combat veterans and an increase in mental health issues arising from multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan without adequate recovery time. We are speaking directly to the welfare of our troops here. If we’re honest about wanting to support our troops, there’s no better place to start than to correct our troop-rotation policy.”
Governor Sebelius experienced the strain of extended troop deployments first-hand when tornadoes wiped out the small town of Greensburg, Kansas, in May. Roughly 60 percent of the Kansas National Guard’s equipment had been shipped overseas, compromising the state’s long-term ability to respond adequately to natural disasters of this magnitude.
“I’m proud of the men and women of the Kansas National Guard who are serving us honorably overseas,” said Governor Sebelius. “But I have also felt the impact of that service, both in terms of Guard members being away from homes and businesses for long periods of time, and the shortage of National Guard equipment my state is facing.
“My hope is that Congress and the President will address this situation sooner rather than later, because the shortage is putting people at risk here at home. This isn’t a political issue – it’s a matter of national security,” continued Sebelius.
Currently, active duty Army soldiers serve up to 15 months in Iraq or Afghanistan, yet only receive 12 months at home – a less than a 1:1 ratio. Many Marine Corps units experience less than a 1:1 deployment ratio. And, National Guard and Reserve units are severely strained, as well.
Troops need adequate time to rest, readjust from combat, and reacquaint themselves with family and friends. The majority of a service member’s dwell time is spent retraining, refurbishing, and reequipping prior to being re-deployed. After more than four years of combat, members of the Armed Forces and their families require a more predictable deployment schedule with adequate time at home between tours.