Army Deployments Reduced From 15 to 12 Months

There will be no troop withdrawl, but combat tours will be shorter. President George W. Bush made the announcement Thursday deployments will go back to 12 months after August 1, 2008.

Ft. Carson Commanders say the announcement could be good news for some Ft. Carson soldiers, but doesn’t mean much for thousands of others.

There were words no soldier wanted to hear when commanders announced a year already spent on the battlefield would be increased by three more months.

"I was there and I saw the effect it had on soldiers. It wasn't devastating, but it was a definitely a downer," said COL B. Shannon Davis, Ft. Carson’s Deputy Commander, and Chief of Staff.

The troop surge meant Davis would see 15 months of combat service instead of twelve. By late this summer, the president says it will change back.

"This is good news," Davis said.

"It is good for the fact they are doing it. I just wish they had never changed it in the first place,” said Brandy Lockley.

Lockley is the wife of a soldier injured during the surge. She’s in touch with those who have loved ones currently overseas who won't be coming home any sooner.

"They feel like they're being treated unfairly because they won't get to come home as soon as everybody else," Lockley said.

The 4th Infantry Division’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team out of Ft. Carson will complete a 15- month assignment, as the 2nd BCT prepares to leave. Currently 2nd BCT has no marching orders, but they could miss the 12-month window.

"For those on the fence like the two-fours, it could be 12 months it could be 15, and it may give them a false hope if you will," Davis said.

But commanders feel, in general, shorter deployments are better than longer ones, and for families looking for an end to saying goodbye, it's a step in the right direction.

"For all the soldiers who've deployed and families who've sacrificed, it means we're making progress, and that's light at the end of the tunnel so to speak," said Davis.

Davis also suggested this announcement could be the first part of a shift in deployment cycles. As the army grows by about six brigades, and if Iraqi forces demonstrate their capabilities, the goal, Davis said, would be to let soldiers stay home for two years between deployments.

For the near future, it will still be only 12 months home before going back.

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