Author Topic: Thoughts on deployment/rotation length & HLTA  (Read 96212 times)

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Online Chris Pook

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Thoughts on deployment/rotation length & HLTA
« on: May 27, 2007, 14:47:20 »
From Journeyman's post on the Elephant: http://forums.army.ca/forums/index.php/topic,62697.0/topicseen.html

Quote
..."I've heard men worry about civilians, and I've heard men shrug and sum up their viewpoint in two words - 'F--- 'em.' I've seen people shoot when they shouldn't have, and I've seen my soldiers take an extra second or two, think about it, and spare somebody's life.

"I've bought drinks from Iraqis while new units watched in wonder from their trucks, pointing weapons in every direction, including the Iraqis my men were buying a Pepsi from. I've patrolled roads for eight hours at a time that combat support units spend days preparing to travel 10 miles on. I've laughed as other units sit terrified in traffic, fingers nervously on triggers, while my soldiers and I deftly whip around, drive on the wrong side of the road, and wave to Iraqis as we pass. I can recognize a Sadiqqi (Arabic for friend) from a Haji (Arabic word for someone who has made the pilgrimage to Mecca, but our word for a bad guy); I know who to point my weapons at, and who to let pass. ....

I didn't want to disturb JM's posting.  It deserves to stand alone. 

But these two paragraphs seemed to sum up the real value of long rotations.  As I understand it the CF is using 6 month rotations, the USMC 7 months and the US Army 12 months with some units being extended to 15 to 18 months currently. 

Speaking carefully here, as someone who HASN'T seen the elephant, it appears that at the beginning of a new rotation there is a settling in period as the new troops get used to their surrounds.  Sometimes it appears that that period works to the enemy's advantage both tactically and politically.
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Offline GAP

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Re: In Praise of Longer Rotations......?
« Reply #1 on: May 27, 2007, 15:09:13 »
In the Crusades (long ago) the USMC used 13 months while the US army used 12 months. Either I think are more realistic than 6 months. It takes the first couple of months to become accustomed to the weather/AOR/unit interactions to become effective. Then there is time to really become familiar before the end of tour fever starts getting at guys.

It seems like a long time, but it actually goes quickly.

While 12 or 13 months is not necessarily hard and fast, I can see where 8-9 months being realistic.

edited to add: That was a time when the forces were using individual replacements rather than the unit replacements.
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Offline MCG

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Re: In Praise of Longer Rotations......?
« Reply #2 on: May 27, 2007, 15:55:30 »
I think 6 months is a good length.  For people who's duties keep them in side the wire a 9 month tour would not be unreasonable.  However, I think we would be far better off switching to 6 months with no HLTA as opposed to going to longer tours.

Offline MCG

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Re: In Praise of Longer Rotations......?
« Reply #3 on: May 27, 2007, 16:08:54 »
What of subunit cohesion?

Offline MCG

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Re: In Praise of Longer Rotations......?
« Reply #4 on: May 27, 2007, 19:06:23 »
It was only an attempt to ask a one line question.  No sniping going on.  However, if you want a counter point, I’d argue that sub-unit cohesion is not a trade-off that I’d want to make (nor would I want to sacrifice cohesion at the Pl & Sect level for the reasons you’ve given).  Despite the exchanges of fire often being at sect & pl level, the operation in Afghanistan is very much a company fight and the key enablers are attached at the company level or coordinated from the company.  The Engr section that will fight in a Pl (or which will attach dets to fight in a rifle section) will be attached to the Coy.  The FOO & FAC will be Coy attachments.

The sub-unit  & all its parts need to be greased and working together before getting into country.
« Last Edit: June 15, 2009, 18:20:28 by CSA 105 »

Offline 2 Cdo

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Re: In Praise of Longer Rotations......?
« Reply #5 on: May 28, 2007, 09:48:52 »
I think 6 months is a good length.  For people who's duties keep them in side the wire a 9 month tour would not be unreasonable.  However, I think we would be far better off switching to 6 months with no HLTA as opposed to going to longer tours.

I agree 100% with the idea of six months with no HLTA. We did it in 2002 and it was easier doing one goodbye to the wife and kids versus coming home, disrupting 9er's routine, and then saying goodbye all over again. The other big plus is that unit cohesion remains constant, minus any casualties, without having to deal with a leave plan.
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Offline Technoviking

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Re: In Praise of Longer Rotations......?
« Reply #6 on: May 28, 2007, 10:05:12 »
In my opinion, we as a military have done an outstanding job of shaking loose the chains of the myth of the noble peacekeeping army in all areas except one: the way we man our missions.  As I understand it, the 6 month rotation came about due to the length of the various mandates of UN missions at one time.  Then that length became 'the norm'.  Add to this HLTA, etc, it almost seems as though we are manning the various ops the same manner in which we manned UN missions.  We go on "Tours" instead of on "operations".  Heck, we don't even have a Replacement Holding Unit!
So, to stay on for six months AND to get HLTA, a RHU could be employed to basically fill the gaps when people go on HLTA.  That or continue to suffer 10 - 15 % losses due to leave (or whatever the rate is).  I'm not saying get rid of leave, time off, etc, but I don't know about the 3 week (or whatever the time is) HLTA is good for the mission.  With time zone changes, familial issues, breaking the routine, etc...

So, there I was....

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Re: In Praise of Longer Rotations......?
« Reply #7 on: May 28, 2007, 10:09:08 »
The leave during a tour was one of the things that REALLY suprised me when I started reading this site some years ago........

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Offline PPCLI Guy

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Re: In Praise of Longer Rotations......?
« Reply #8 on: May 28, 2007, 10:33:21 »
Tour lengths are based on a number of things, but mostly on the rhythm of events back in Canada.  The Taliban does not have a posting season - it has a poppy season.  How about we adopt an assymetrical approach, both in terms of tour lengths and force structure.  The "winter months" are slower because little is allowed to effect the bringing in of the poppy crops.  If we were to adopt a 4 and 8 month rotation cycle, we could have reduced strength during the lull months, reducing the FG stress on the Army.  The 8 monthers would be there to prosecute an entire campaign season.

Just a thought.

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« Last Edit: May 28, 2007, 11:10:15 by PPCLI Guy »
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Offline skydiver

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Re: In Praise of Longer Rotations......?
« Reply #9 on: May 28, 2007, 10:40:21 »
Greetings All..

CFTPO says just shy of 8 months (20 July 07 - 07 Mar 08)  for all in the next time around.

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Offline Technoviking

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Re: In Praise of Longer Rotations......?
« Reply #10 on: May 28, 2007, 10:43:17 »
Tour lengths are based on a nbumber of things, but mostly on the rhythm of eventas back in Canada.  The Taliban does not have a posting season - it has a poppy season.  How about we adopt an assymetrical approach, both in terms of tour lengths and force structure.  The "winter months" are slower because little is allowed to effect the bringing in of the poppy crops.  If we were to adopt a 4 and 8 month rotation cycle, we could have reduced strenght during the lull months, reducing the FG stress on the Army.  The * monthers would be there to prosecute an entire campaign season.

Just a thought.
So, adapt the forces to the needs on the grounds ("F" echelon types).  Perhaps a combat team in the four month "lull" to maintain a force presence (in addition to the PRT, Camp security, etc), and then a full up battlegroup for the eight month "long haul"?  I think that would make sense, with a full-up RHU "in place" in an "undisclosed third location".  Sure, being in an RHU would be boredom personified, especially if not rotated in as a replacment, but in the end, not being rotated in is a GOOD thing, because it means nobody got killed or wounded on the pointy end.

So, RHU would be in line with our doctine, as would the idea of amending our schedule in order to more effectively meet the needs on the ground, focussing on the enemy vice the terrain (or an arbitrary calendar) *cough* manoeuvrist approach *cough* effects based approach to operations *cough*
So, there I was....

Offline Bobby Rico

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Re: In Praise of Longer Rotations......?
« Reply #11 on: May 28, 2007, 11:12:16 »
I personally wouldn't mind there being some kind of system in place to allow for optional tour extensions for individuals.  I realize that'd be extremely difficult given the scale of our forces on tour, but I think such a system could be favorable.  Example-

I'm a young guy, I don't have a family of my own, I'm single.  Someone like me, I'd probably do well doing an eight to twelve month tour or more, so I volunteer for an extension- get a temp transfer to the next battalion due in country, and maybe give a break to someone from that battalion whose maybe a little older, has a family and such and would much rather be with them than in A-stan.  Frankly, I'd love something like that- get another 2+ months of combat pay and more experiences in country.  Good stuff.

It's pretty unrealistic though, I know, and doesn't really solve the problem at hand.
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Offline Bobby Rico

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Re: In Praise of Longer Rotations......?
« Reply #12 on: May 28, 2007, 11:30:25 »
You're absolutely right CSA, I haven't been on a tour before.  It's definitely something I want to experience though, I can tell you that with complete honesty.  I can't say for sure how I'll react to it...hell, I might piss myself at the first sound of gunfire, who knows?

I was just using that as an example though- a potential situation where if perhaps I (or someone in my situation) were able to request a tour extension, if such a system existed where it was possible.  It wasn't really my intent to suggest that I would DEFINITELY want to do it though.  Just that I might.
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Offline GAP

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Re: In Praise of Longer Rotations......?
« Reply #13 on: May 28, 2007, 11:41:08 »
Aside from his enthusiasm, it is not an unrealistic expectation to do extensions of tours. Check my profile.

A number of us who did 13 month tours, wanted to stay mainly because we were enjoying ourselves. I signed up for 2 six month extensions ( last one cut short by illness in family), but they gave me a 30 day leave in between extensions and transportation to where I wanted to spend it.

The two extensions were the max. I would have then had to remain in the states for one year before being allowed back on tour.

Didn't seem to have any ill effects, I just as stupid now as I was then.....
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Offline Bobby Rico

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Re: In Praise of Longer Rotations......?
« Reply #14 on: May 28, 2007, 11:47:39 »
It's funny, actually most of the people I speak with who have been on tour, tend to say they have more positive experiences then negative ones.  I suppose that really does depend on a lot of factors of course- where you are, what kind of action you're in, if you had any casualities what-not.  My father who was in Bosnia, said he really enjoyed it, and is even hoping for a shot in Afghanistan.  I have a friend from the Rangers whose been in Iraq, and said despite the fact that his battalion took some hits, he still wants to go back.

Of course, that doesn't necessarily mean I'll have the same positive experiences if and when I go to A-stan or wherever.  I still want to go though, do my part, get some real soldiering in.  After all, what's the point of joining a combat-arm if you don't want to go overseas, right?
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Offline Iterator

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Re: In Praise of Longer Rotations......?
« Reply #15 on: May 29, 2007, 01:19:49 »

To some extent, this was discussed here: http://forums.army.ca/forums/index.php/topic,39949.0/all.html

I believe it would be better to have shorter rotations for line companies; about 3 months, without any leave during deployment.

Technology should be utilized to keep the replacement unit informed of the situation on the ground throughout the entire deployment of the preceding unit. Pre-deployment readiness and handovers should not be cataclysmic events, and settling in should not be a hardship.
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Offline Rider Pride

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Re: In Praise of Longer Rotations......?
« Reply #16 on: May 29, 2007, 04:55:12 »
However, I think we would be far better off switching to 6 months with no HLTA as opposed to going to longer tours.

I concur.

I also agree with Command-Sense-Act 105's comment about sub unit rotation, but at company (for infantry), or troop level (for the other cbt arms) to maintain a constant "foot on the ground" of corporate knowledge.

I think massive Bg rotations are just asking for trouble as we are most vulnerable the 2 or so weeks coming into or going out of theater.
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Re: In Praise of Longer Rotations......?
« Reply #17 on: May 29, 2007, 08:19:54 »
I just wanted to pick up a point that Bobby R had made with respect to being a single guy.  In my experience as both a CF member and as a wife, I find the phrase, "Let the married guys go home and the single guys stay" to be the most teeth gnashing phrase I keep hearing. 

I find the whole mindset that taskings, shifts, duties and whatnots are pushed onto the single guys because they have no family to speak of is quite disturbing and quite maddening.  To hear that mindset in the form of a complaint from a spouse is even more disheartening as if a wedding ring/stat dec is enough to get someone off a tasking or duty or the notion that the single guy/gal will pick up the slack (as usual - see organization of Xmas leaves or who gets off for Mom or Dad's day and who stays behind).  As long as we keep perpetuating the mindset that the single guys will always be the ones to pick up the slack or do the extra operational time, then we'll have youngsters like Bobby R expecting to be the one to do them when in fact, we do need a balanced force of youngsters, singles and older, married types. 

I'd like to see the families of personnel stop complaining of tour lengths, postings etc and accept the fact that their partner is a member of the CF and that is their job.  My dad had 10 kids, for his entire 35 year career, he was maybe home 3 months of any given year.  I'd like to see us stop using the difference between the singles and the marrieds in our decisions on who goes and who stays.  (I can dream right?)


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Offline PMedMoe

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Re: In Praise of Longer Rotations......?
« Reply #18 on: May 29, 2007, 09:00:16 »
I agree, niner domestic!!  My husband and I are both military, no kids (at least not living with us).  I was just on a course and had to listen to complaints about postings from a guy who has just recently become a father and whose wife/girlfriend has three other kids.  Every time he said "I have four kids" I wanted to smack him.  As I explained to him and another person on the course, having a family, kids and a career is a personal choice and not one to be made lightly.

On the topic note, I think six months, without leave, is long enough.  Some people might go stir crazy!!! Actually, I was glad to be adding armour to vehicles for my last few weeks in KAF.
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Offline Greymatters

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Re: In Praise of Longer Rotations......?
« Reply #19 on: May 29, 2007, 11:15:05 »
Its a bit like people who move next to an airport... they know the airport is there, but move in anyway then complain about the noise. 

Some people will talk stupid no matter what you tell them.  Despite the fact that they know they are going to go away on tours, they will still complain.  Probably just for the sake of complaining.


Online Chris Pook

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Re: In Praise of Longer Rotations......?
« Reply #20 on: May 29, 2007, 11:16:54 »
Is pairing Battlegroups an option?

Assigning two battlegroups to a theater for 12-18 months at a stretch but with only one BG in country at a time.  Stagger the sub-unit rotations to something like 3 months on and 3 months off so that the work-up period between "shifts" is reduced/eliminated.   Also, when the assigned BGs are nearing the end of their tour you could "dovetail" or overlap the incoming BGs so that you have an experienced HQ and support (for example) with a mix of experienced and "untried" sub-units.  
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Offline MCG

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Re: In Praise of Longer Rotations......?
« Reply #21 on: May 29, 2007, 16:23:55 »
With deployments, it is better to get it over with.  Multiple short cycles of deploy - home - deploy - .... will increase the strain on soldiers & family as the process is streached out & the "good-bye ritual" re-lived.

Online Chris Pook

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Re: In Praise of Longer Rotations......?
« Reply #22 on: May 29, 2007, 16:39:46 »
Thanks MCG.  Just a thought.
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Offline MCG

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Re: In Praise of Longer Rotations......?
« Reply #23 on: May 29, 2007, 16:43:57 »
It does work for the Air Force, but that is dependant on a more permissive enviroment.  This could be an option for some future Cyprus.

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Re: In Praise of Longer Rotations......?
« Reply #24 on: May 29, 2007, 17:04:30 »
.... This could be an option for some future Cyprus.

A later Afghanistan perhaps?
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