Shea-Porter Co-Sponsors Bill to Guarantee Troops Time at Home

Washington, DC - Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH) yesterday joined with nineteen other members of Congress to introduce legislation to guarantee that soldiers get adequate time at home between deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. Congresswoman Shea-Porter was an original co-sponsor of the bill, which was introduced in the House after a similar proposal was put forward in the Senate by Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) earlier this month.

"The way things are right now, our armed forces are at their breaking point," said Congresswoman Shea-Porter. "If we allow this to continue, it will undermine our readiness and threaten our national security."

The bill (H.R. 3159) would set clear requirements for the amount of time which members of the regular Armed Forces, as well as members of the National Guard and Reserves, must be given at home between deployments. Specifically, it states that if a unit or member of a regular component of the Armed Forces deploys to Iraq or Afghanistan, they will have the same amount of time at home before they can be redeployed. For the National Guard and Reserves, the bill sets a minimum time of three years between deployments.

Current Army standards call for soldiers to be given two years between deployments, although many Army and Marine Corps units have been operating on a schedule that has them deployed for fifteen months at a time with only twelve months in between tours.

"This bill will support our troops by supporting their right to have a break from combat, and it will support our military families by protecting their right to spend time with their loved ones between deployments," Shea-Porter added.

H.R. 3159 was introduced in the House by Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher, who chairs the House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee. "The men and women of our Armed Forces are stuck in a revolving door in Iraq that undermines the readiness of our military. If we want to get serious about our commitment to our troops and our ability to protect American interests around the globe on a moment's notice, then we need to change the current troop-rotation policy," Tauscher said.

A one page background is attached below

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Background on H.R. 3159

Faced with the strains of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, many units have fallen well below the standards outlined in the bill and even the Department of Defense's own guidelines. Recent Pentagon policy established by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates reflects this change, lowering the standard from two years at home for every one year abroad to a cycle of fifteen month deployments with twelve month periods at home for each unit. However, even this policy does not address the many cases in which individual soldiers and Marines are being reassigned to other units and sent back on new deployments much sooner.

Denying soldiers adequate time at home is not simply harming morale and placing undue strain on military families, it is also damaging the readiness of our Armed Forces. For the majority of service members, 'dwell time' between deployments is not a period of rest and relaxation. The time includes frequent absences from home for training exercises, refurbishment of damaged equipment, and assimilating new members into the unit. Without time for these critical activities, our ability to respond to threats at home and abroad will suffer.

Provisions of H.R. 3159

o       Deals exclusively with deployments to Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom (including participation in the NATO International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan)

o       The bill establishes the following requirements for deployments:
o       Units or members of regular components of the Armed Forces must be given time between deployments that is no less than the time for which they were previously deployed.

o       Units or members of the Reserves or National Guard must be given no less than three years between deployments.

o       The bill also gives the Sense of the Congress that:
o       For the regular Armed Forces, the optimal minimum period between deployments is a 2:1 ratio of time home versus time served overseas.

o       For the Reserves and National Guard, the optimal period of time between deployments is no less than five years, with no individual deployment lasting more than one year.

o       Waivers and Emergency Situations
o       In the event of an operational emergency posing a threat to vital national security interests, the President m ay waive the bill's limitations by certifying to Congress that the deployment of a particular unit or member is necessary.

o       The military may also provide waivers for individual volunteers who seek to redeploy before the expiration of the mandated time between deployments.


United States House of Representatives
1508 Longworth House Office Building * Washington, DC 20515

(202) 225-5456 phone * (202) 225-5822 fax *