The Pentagon has come up with a new way to reward soldiers for spending extra time in Iraq and Afghanistan -- one full day off for every month over the normal one-year deployment to the war zone. That means troops whose tours have just been extended from 12 to 15 months will get an extra three days off.
Principal Deputy Undersecretary of Defense Michael Dominguez made the announcement at at Pentagon press conference today. Reporters wondered if one day off was nearly equal to an extra month spent at war.
"If we start getting into why one, why not ten?" Dominguez replied. "Why not 100? Why not 1000? Because it wasn't about that. This is about saying look, I know this is extraordinary. I wish we didn't have to do this. But at least you'll know that we're thinking about it and we're thinking about you."
Pentagon planners did consider increasing hardship payments but ruled it out, Dominguez said. "We weren't trying to find some metaphysical balance between the service you are rendering and buckets full of gold."
"The thing we addressing here is frequency and intensity of service," Dominguez' assistant Bill Carr explained.
"What offsets intense frequency?" he asked. "The answer is respite. So when it came to a debate between cash which produces a set of behaviors or respite that produces a set of behaviors...respite is the behavior we would like to encourage."