Morale: Dealing With Broken Dwell Time


April 22, 2007: One essential element in maintaining troop morale during wartime, is to provide some guarantees that there will be time to rest between deployments to combat zones. This rest is officially called "dwell time." That's "dwell" as in stay in your own dwelling, with your family, for two months, for every month you are in the combat zone.

The real world is unpredictable, so the U.S. Army had to come up with a way to compensate troops who "break dwell time" (don't get enough of it because they are needed back on the battlefield.) The formula developed is based on what happens in a 36 month period. Active-duty troops get one day off for every month they are deployed (in a combat zone) beyond 12 months. After 18 months, they get two days off per extra month deployed. After 24 months, they get four days off per extra month deployed. Normally, a soldier gets 30 days off per year, Reserve troops use the same formula, but based on a 72 month cycle, and five months dwell time for each month in a combat zone.

In addition to the days off, troops who stay in the combat zone beyond twelve months, also get an extra thousand dollars a month in pay. Thus the soldiers who have recently had their tours extended to fifteen months in Iraq, will get $3,000 each in extra pay, and three extra vacation days. Compensation like this has worked so far, with reenlistment rates staying high. But this is all uncharted territory, for the U.S. military has never fought a war for so long, using an all-volunteer force, and with most Americans living as if there were no war at all.


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