Small Wars Journal

How to Rethink the U.S. Military's Troop Deployment Policy

How to Rethink the U.S. Military's Troop Deployment Policy by John Spencer, Politico

Baghdad Iraq 2008. I could see the resentment in the police chief’s eyes. He greeted me with subtle contempt. Don’t blame him. I was the eighth American commander he had met in the past five years.

Over the past 15 years, Iraqi and Afghan police, army, tribal and government leaders have had to build relationships with new military leaders every three, six, nine, or 12 months. Each new soldier comes in, introduces himself and says “I’m here to help.” The words are genuine but the frequent rotation of U.S. military personnel means the trust, rapport and progress are short-lived.

With his recent announcement that 8,400 soldiers will remain in Afghanistan in 2017 and further troop increases in Iraq, President Barack Obama is certain to leave a significant on-the-ground military presence in the Middle East. As a new president enters office and assesses the U.S.’s military strategy, it’s time to reevaluate our deployment schedule for U.S. soldiers. How is a military built around 12-month rotations able to retain knowledge about the local area and build relationships overseas?...

Read on.


J Harlan

Fri, 07/29/2016 - 11:08am

The best system (used by a PSC) for retaining local area knowledge and contacts I've seen is a 8 weeks in 4 weeks out rotation with two positions shared by three officers. The senior is always in command when he's on the ground. The junior is always second in command. The middle officer commands four four weeks and is second in command for four weeks. Travel and leave time is taken out of four weeks out. When not on leave but out of country officers are expected to keep up to date and in touch via the internet. Refresher training etc occurs on the four weeks out of country.

This system would allow civil affairs and intelligence people to be assigned to a theatre for years. This system would work well for trainers, civ affairs and intelligence.

I imagine the argument against this that DOD personnel policies couldn't handle it. Oh well what's more important winning or maintaining the HR status quo?