Army Deployments: What You Should Know

Soldiers are among the most-deployed members of the military

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When considering which branch of the military to join, there are a lot of factors to weigh. One of the most important things for many new recruits, especially those with families or planning to start families is how often and for how long he or she may be deployed. 

The separation of deployment can take a toll on family members and is particularly difficult for parents of young children. So it's not a decision to be undertaken hastily.

Soldiers Deploy Frequently

Soldiers on active duty in the Army deploy more than any other branch, with the possible exception of the Navy (although most Navy deployments are on ships at sea). How often you deploy depends on whether the U.S. is involved in any ongoing conflicts. Deployment is also heavily determined by your Army job.

For example, a combat job, such as infantry, or armor, would deploy more often than an administrative job, such as finance clerk, or legal specialist. Keep in mind that administrative jobs do deploy, just not quite as often as combat or combat support jobs.

The average Army deployment rate can range from 12 months deployed, followed by 12 months at home station assignment, to 12 months deployed, 24 months at home.

What is Stop-Loss?

It’s worth noting that the Army has made more use than other branches of the "stop-loss" program, which means they keep soldiers beyond their normal separation date if they have been scheduled for a deployment.

This is affected by a variety of factors but mostly has to do with a shortage of personnel in a given geographic area, a shortage of personnel in a particular job, or escalation of a conflict requiring additional soldiers.

Why Does the Army Deploy Soldiers So Often?

The oldest of all U.S. military branches, the Army was established by the Continental Congress on June 14, 1775.

Before Sept. 11, 2001, the Army was organized for large-scale deployments, mostly of mechanized divisions of upwards of 15,000 soldiers each. It was time-consuming to deploy such large forces and difficult to do so in a timely fashion. The Marines were the branch typically called upon when a situation required deployment on short notice.  

But the Army reorganized its forces into brigade combat teams (BCTs) of a few thousand soldiers, with brigade support battalions (BSBs) serving as combat support. By 2007, the Army had reorganized to 42 BCTs and 75 BSBs. This new focus on making the Army more nimble has allowed for more frequent deployments.

Impact of Deployment on Families

The Army offers families a family separation allowance, payable to the dependents of soldiers who will be deployed for 30 days or longer. Known as an involuntary separation, the allowance is intended to alleviate the financial burden of having the soldier away from his or her family for long periods.

If you're considering joining the Army, take into account how much time you may spend away from home.

Be sure you can handle the responsibility before taking the plunge. 

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