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Army to Reduce Standard War Zone Deployment to Nine Months

The Army plans to drop its deployment time for soldiers in war zones, in a signal that less and less troops will be needed for current operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

NBC News has learned that the Army is going to announce that most combat deployments will decrease from one year to nine months total time on the ground in the war zone.

This is down from the height of combat in Iraq, when soldiers endured 15-month deployments with as little as one year of rest back home before shipping back out.

In addition, the announcement will also include an increase in “dwell time” — the period of time troops have at home between their deployments.

This is very good news. The stress on the military during this period of endless war has been intense. Marriage breakups, depression and suicides have shot up. 15 months in a war zone followed by just a year at home has the potential to grind anyone into dust. A nine-month deployment is far more sensible.

As for what to do with veterans once they return from the field, the White House will propose a tax credit for hiring vets today.

President Barack Obama on Friday will propose a $120 million package of new tax credits for businesses that hire U.S. veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan at a time of stubbornly high unemployment at home.

Obama was due to visit Washington’s Navy Yard to unveil a package of measures, including improved retraining and education, to help smooth the way for service members entering a tight U.S. job market, administration officials said.

In June, there were 1 million unemployed veterans and the jobless rate for those who served since the September 11, 2001, attacks stood at 13.3 percent, compared with 9.2 percent for the overall U.S. workforce.

“The brave men and women who have put their lives on the line for our country … should not have to necessarily sacrifice more because our country is recovering from a very deep recession,” one administration official said.

The tax credit would provide $2,400 for each veteran hired, and $4,800 if they have been unemployed for six months or more. They also want to expand a “Wounded Warriors Tax Credit” for wounded or disabled veterans up to $9,600. We have a jobs hiring tax credit in place that isn’t doing a whole lot – it’s probably just giving money to businesses who would hire anyway. This does attack a discouraging problem of unemployed veterans. It would need Congressional approval, of course, but if there was a way to leverage public support for job creation, it would be on a bill like this. However, if it’s offset with cuts elsewhere, it’s not exactly a stimulus.

The deployment reduction and increased dwell time is a much more satisfying announcement. Maybe there can be a time in the near future where these deployments don’t have to happen anymore.

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David Dayen

David Dayen

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