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Sunday, April 22, 2007

Pentagon to Offer Time Off for Added Deployments

The Defense Department unveiled a program Wednesday to provide administrative leave to service members whose combat deployments don't meet Pentagon objectives for "dwell time" between deployments. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates first announced the development of the program during a White House press conference Jan. 11, 2007.

It was to be part of a new force management policy with stated goals of giving active-duty troops two years at home station for every year deployed and reserve-component troops five years at home for every year deployed. The program, he said, would help "compensate" those forced to deploy without the prescribed dwell time.

But Michael Dominguez, principal deputy undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, described the actual program Wednesday as more "recognition" than compensation. Under the new policy, Guardsmen and Reservists will earn one day of "administrative absence" a month for every month beyond 12 they are mobilized in a 72-month period. They will earn two days a month if they are mobilized past 18 months in a 72-month period, and four days a month if they are mobilized past 24 months in the same period.

Administrative absences are days off authorized by the commander, and are separate from normal leave, Mr. Dominguez said. He acknowledged that a monetary package had been considered but insisted the final decision to provide only time off was not linked to budget issues. The policy is retroactive to Jan. 19.

NGAUS officials are urging Pentagon officials to reconsider their decision to "abandon compensation for recognition." For more information, contact NGAUS at their website.

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