What is Right?

Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace, JCS Chairman, says that the issue of different deployed tour lengths “drives him nuts.” Visiting with airmen, sailors, soldiers, and marines in Alaska, Pace said that he has “spent a lot of time trying to think through how to get us on the right tour length.” In the end, he realized that each service has rational reasons for its particular tour length. For instance, the Navy’s six to seven month tours are tied to ship requirements and the Marine Corps primarily is tied to the Navy. The Air Force tour of four months works well to manage aircraft maintenance and reserve deployments. The Army’s current 12-month rotation cycle fits with its current 25 brigades, meaning there aren’t enough soldiers to reduce the tours. After explaining the facts of life, Pace acknowledged, “No matter what you say about all the math and all the science, it doesn’t compute when you’re sitting in Baghdad.”