FORT DEVENS, Mass. -- The changing face of the Army's combat mission is leading to overall changes in the execution of policies affecting the spectrum of Soldiers deployed in defense of the nation.

Silver Scimitar, the U.S. Army Reserve Command-sponsored training exercise prepares human resource Soldiers from active Army, Army National Guard and U.S. Army Reserve for deployment. The information they learn here informs the way they administer programs in theater and keeps them up to date on current knowledge.

This year, Soldiers attending training on Jan. 21 learned of changes to the military Rest and Recuperation program that affects all Soldiers deploying in 2012. They received the information from subject matter expert Maj. Oyyif Logan, Deputy Chief of Policies and Program Divisions, Third Army/U.S Army Central Command G-1, who briefed Soldiers from the 8th Human Resources Sustainment Center on the specifics of the revised program.

"The R&R program has not changed," Logan explained. "The new changes are based off of the new nine-month deployment. Only Soldiers in a unit with a 12-month deployment will still get R&R."

He explained the previous Rest and Recuperation program started in 2002 for Soldiers deployed in Afghanistan and 2003 for deployments to Iraq. To date, more than 1.2 million Soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan have been through the R&R program.

"In August 2011, the Secretary of the Army announced that on January 1, 2012, the Army would begin transitioning to a 9-month deployment cycle for General Purpose Forces (Division and below) supporting named operations outside the continental United States," said Chief of R&R Policy in Army G-1, Lt. Col. Dave Homza in a published statement on the Army G-1 website.

"This initiative will improve the quality of life of Soldiers and Families by decreasing the time Soldiers are separated from their Families. Soldiers who are deployed to the combat zone on 365-day orders with a minimum of 270 days boots on ground still remain eligible for the R&R benefit."

This shortening of the typical combat tour for Soldiers represents a more tolerable and viable combat or overseas tour for many.

"I think it's rewarding," said Logan, as he talked about the training. "It's always good for personnel to understand the issues that pertain to them. This training is a quick overview of our functions and how we deal with Human Resources functions in theater."

The Soldiers attending the training were engaged with what they were learning from the cadre of experienced instructors.

"This is interesting training," said Sgt. Guillermo Farias, a human resources specialist with 8th Human Resources Sustainment Center based in Fort Shafter, Hawaii. "I've learned more in the last couple of months than I have in the last year. This training is making me a much better noncommissioned officer and will make my soldiers better noncommissioned officers in the future."

Page last updated Tue January 31st, 2012 at 00:00