Cover: Deployments and Army Personnel Tempo

Deployments and Army Personnel Tempo

Published 2001

by Ronald E. Sortor, J Michael Polich


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Over the past decade, numerous observers have expressed concerns about increased tempo and overseas deployments. This report derives quantitative measures of unit and individual deployments over the period from 1994 through 2000 and uses them to create an empirically grounded description of tempo and its possible effects. Results show that, overtime, Army deployment levels have increased appreciably. For example, the average time deployed rose nearly 30 percent between 1997 and 2000, and the number of units with lengthy periods away from home was also up sharply. In 2000, the average soldier in a TO&E unit spent about 7 days away from home on deployments each month, or 85 days per year. The impact was much more pronounced among some units, branches, and individuals, particularly those deployed to the Balkans. However, fewer than 4 percent of the force was subject to repeat overseas deployments during a three-year period, and fewer than 1 percent was deployed more than one-third of the time. The authors conclude that these static measures of tempo and deployment do not by themselves explain a widespread tempo problem, but that a problem results from two other sources. The first is the workload generated by the combination of warfighting readiness, deployments, and day-to-day peacetime demands of operating a unit and installation. The second arises from the dynamics of the system that must sustain the force, prepare for deployments, and adhere to peacetime operational and policy constraints. As a result, the report suggests that the major focus of Army concern about deployments should probably be not on the amount of time that individual soldiers spend overseas (although that should be monitored), but on overall force management, to evenly distribute the burden, minimize short-term readiness impacts, and ensure that longer-term skill development and warfighting capability are sustained.

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