Some Airmen See Tours Extended at Several Pacific, European Bases

Single Airmen and Guardians on their first duty assignments to 22 locations in the Pacific and Europe will now have to pack their bags for a longer stay—beginning next month, those tours will last three years instead of two.

The Department of the Air Force announced the policy change to a 36-month overseas posting for first-timers on Feb. 11.

Affected locations include: RAF Mildenhall, United Kingdom; RAF Lakenheath, U.K.;  RAF Alconbury, U.K.; RAF Croughton, U.K.; London, RAF Menwith Hill, U.K.; RAF Fairford, U.K.; RAF Welford, U.K.; RAF Molesworth, U.K.; Aviano Air Base, Italy; Stavenger Air Base, Norway; Ramstein Air Base, Germany; Kaiserslautern, Germany; Sembach, Germany; Vogelweh, Germany; Landstuhl, Germany; Kapaun, Germany; Einsiedlerhof, Germany; Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany; Kadena Air Base, Japan; Misawa Air Base, Japan; and Yokota Air Base, Japan.

Previously, troops would stay in those assignments for 24 months. But Air Force officials said two years isn’t enough time to settle in.

“During these moves, service members not only have to adjust to their new jobs, but also to a new culture and country, which takes time,” Lt. Gen. Brian T. Kelly, deputy chief of staff for manpower, personnel and services, said in a release. “A 24-month tour was not adequate for our new Airmen and Guardians to thrive, nor was it enough time to provide the continuity needed for the unit.”

Officials expect longer tours will help units train better and improve service members’ professional development, as well as offering more stability early on in their career, according to the release.

The change will not impact Airmen or Guardians who were retrained or otherwise shifted into a new career, or who served in the military before commissioning as officers. Service members who live with spouses and other family members will continue to see 36- or 48-month-long stints in overseas jobs, according to the Air Force.