The Army is considering whether it will have to extend the combat tours of troops in Iraq if President Bush opts to maintain the recent buildup of forces through spring 2008.
Acting Army Secretary Pete Geren testified Tuesday that the service is reviewing other options, including relying more heavily on Army reservists or Navy and Air Force personnel, so as not to put more pressure on a stretched active-duty force.
Most soldiers spend 15 months in combat with a guaranteed 12 months home, a rotation plan that has infuriated Democrats because it exceeds the service's goal of giving troops equal time home as in combat. In coming weeks, the Senate will vote on a proposal by Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., that would restrict deployments.
"It's too early to look into the next year, but for the Army we have to begin to plan," Geren told the Senate Armed Services Committee. "We have to look into our options."
Army spokesman Paul Boyce said, "If the future were to require such an option, it would be the last option on the list."