Of course for this Assministration rules were made to be broken.
Top U.S. military officials, expecting President Bush to order an increase in the size of the force in Iraq, have concluded that such a buildup would require them to reverse Pentagon policy and send the Army’s National Guard and reserve units on lengthy second tours in Iraq, defense officials said Monday.
Under Pentagon policy, Guard and reserve units have been limited to 24 months of mobilization for the Iraq war. Under that rule, most reserve units already sent to Iraq are ineligible to return.
But the Joint Chiefs of Staff have concluded that a significant buildup would require the Pentagon to overturn the policy and send Guard and reserve units for additional yearlong tours.
Such an order probably would be controversial among state governors, who share authority over the Guard, and could heighten concerns in Congress over the war and Bush’s plans for a troop increase.
Some civilians inside the Department of Defense remain deeply skeptical of a change in policy — in particular, David Chu, the undersecretary for personnel and readiness, a defense official said.
Chu and other officials have argued that the military should try to find other ways to fill the need for reservists — by tapping Navy and Air Force units, for example — rather than sending Guard and reserve units for second tours.
Pentagon officials said leaders of the National Guard remain skeptical of calling up their combat brigades for a second tour. Before a buildup was considered, no National Guard brigade combat team was scheduled to deploy to Iraq until 2009, to give the force time to replace personnel and equipment.
National Guard officials have argued that their units can sustain one-year deployments every six years. But recruiting and retention could suffer if the policy is changed and Guard units are remobilized too quickly, a Pentagon official said.
Nearly 206,000 Army National Guard soldiers have been deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan. Under current policy, those soldiers would be sent for a second tour only if they specifically volunteered. According to the Pentagon, more than 23,500 Army Guard soldiers have been on more than one deployment.