The House has just passed H.R. 3159, Ensuring Military Readiness Through Stability and Predictability Deployment Policy Act by a vote of 229-194. The bill mandates troop rest times equal to their deployment times, similar to an amendment by Senator Jim Webb, D-Va supported by 56 Senators as an amendment to the defense authorization bill. It would require active duty forces to be guaranteed that their time at home match the length of their deployment. National Guard and reservists would be home for three times the length of the deployments. The bill would allow the President to waive these requirements to meet the national security needs of the country, and allow Service Chiefs of Staff to allow for the voluntary mobilization of members. These requirements would apply to those serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom. The bill also expresses a sense of the Congress that the goal for the time between deployments for regular components should be one year deployed to two years at home station, and the goal for the reserve components should be one year deployed to five years at home station.
The question for the Members of the House today is, who do you stand for? Do you stand for military planners or other members of the Pentagon who have the executive branch to speak for them, or do you stand with the American people, the families of our troops and the troops themselves to be sure that we increase our readiness, to make sure that we honor their service, and their valor, and their sacrifice by making sure that they are not only retrained and ready, but they have time to be home with their family before they are redeployed?
That little proviso for Bush to waive these restrictions seems ripe for problems.