Washington, D.C. -- The House Armed Services Committee held a markup today on H.R. 3159, legislation that would mandate a minimum period of rest and recuperation for members of the Armed Forces between deployments for Operation Iraqi Freedom. The Committee reported the bill favorably to the U.S. House of Representatives on a vote of 32 to 25, with 2 voting present.
“The burdens of multiple deployments are wearing out our troops and their families. Extended deployments frequently last longer than the time our returning forces have at home to recover from their deployments, undergo the training they need, and spend time to get to know their families and loved ones before being deployed again. I want to commend Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher (D-CA) for introducing this legislation designed to provide stability and predictability for our troops and also help restore our military readiness,” said Chairman Ike Skelton (D-MO).
“The Bush Administration’s current strategy of multiple back-to-back deployments has stretched our military and is breaking our all-volunteer force. If we fail to act, we do so at the expense of our military readiness. We need a posture that allows units adequate dwell time to recover, train, and equip before their next assignment. If we do not fix this problem immediately, we will suffer massive recruitment and retention problems in the near future,” said Congresswoman Tauscher. “The American people have all sorts of reasons for being opposed to this war, and one very large one is that they live in the same communities as our military and they see the strain that this puts on our families first hand, and it does not sit well with them.”
Chairman Skelton offered an amendment in the nature of a substitute and a manager’s amendment to H.R. 3159. As approved by the Committee, H.R. 3159 sets minimum periods of rest and recuperation for active and reserve component units deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom. For active duty forces, the bill calls for time between deployments equal to or exceeding the length of the most recent previous deployment. For National Guard and Reserve units and members, the bill calls for time between deployments at least three times longer than the length of the most recent previous deployment.
The bill also expresses the sense of Congress that the optimal minimum period between deployments should be twice the length of the most recent previous deployment for active duty forces, and that units and members of the reserve components should not be mobilized for more than one year, with five years as the optimal minimum period between a previous deployment and a subsequent deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
To ensure access to the resources required to continue to prosecute the war on terror, the bill exempts Special Forces units and units that may be needed to redeploy troops out of Iraq, and allows the deployment of units that may be needed for operations elsewhere in the world, including Afghanistan. The bill also provides waiver authority to the President and the Chiefs of the Military services to allow for appropriate responses to unforeseen circumstances.
The Committee reported the bill favorably to the U.S. House of Representatives on a vote of 32 to 25, with 2 voting present.