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Army to give longer tours of duty at US posts

WASHINGTON -- The Army intends to give soldiers six- or seven-year assignments in the same US posts to reduce the stress on military families and to build cohesion in fighting units, officials said yesterday.

That would double the current average stay at a given American post for most officers and enlisted personnel.

Brigadier General Sean Byrne, the Army's director of military personnel policy, told reporters the change is taking place alongside efforts to revamp the Army into a structure of largely independent fighting brigades.

What also will change is how soldiers train and advance through the ranks. Often they must jump from unit to unit, post to post, to attend schools and advance their career. With the Army deploying combat units so often to Afghanistan, Iraq, and other conflict areas over the last decade, however, some soldiers are perpetually in motion.

Under the new plan, which starts in September for some units, soldiers will stay in the same units, or, failing that, transfer to another on the same base, Byrne said. Each of the brigades will be on a relatively fixed schedule of training and will be designated to be available for deployment during a set period.

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