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Soldiers Returning From Iraq Will Be First for Expanded Dwell Time

Robert Gates repeated at his Pentagon press conference that he wants to give troops at war at least two years’ time at home for every year deployed. But there’s a new surge going on in Afghanistan, and accordingly, the plan takes a back seat to that. So when does it happen? Vice Adm. Steven Stanley, the Pentagon’s director for force structuring, doesn’t know either. But he said troops returning from Iraq will be the first to reap the benefits.

In response to a question at a Pentagon briefing just now, Stanley said the real answer lies with the Army and Marine Corps. But he said that it was the Pentagon’s desire that forces returning from Iraq “start a two-year dwell period.” He wasn’t really clear about whether that meant the troops rotating out for the combat-troop drawdown that ends in August or the total withdrawal that ends in December 2011. But since Adm. Michael Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said last month that it’ll probably be “two years” before the expanded dwell time kicks in, we can probably assume Stanley means the final component of troops returning from Iraq in 2011 will be the ones who begin the new, longer dwell period.

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