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Edition: Thu, August 09, 2007
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Temporary Change of Station (TCS) /TDY Policy Changes

What is it? The Army is putting the "temporary" back into Temporary Change of Station, or TCS. TCS is the status of Soldiers who are deployed away from their home stations to support a contingency operation. TCS assignments were appropriate following the 9-11 attacks because it appeared that these duty assignments would be short-term in nature. But the fact that we are engaged in an environment of persistent conflict requires us to reassess the use of TCS status. Following a review of TCS management, the Army has determined that many short-term assignments have evolved into long-term requirements and different approaches to meeting these requirements should be used. (In this context, long-term means assignments for more than 180 days.)

What has the Army done? In a recent review of the management, administrative, and financial aspects of the TCS program, the Army identified challenges that must be addressed with revised policies and procedures. The challenges included:

- No predictability in managing positions
- Above average expenses
- Government lodging and meals underutilized, resulting in unusually high cost in travel claims

In an effort to reduce costs while maintaining operational support, the Army conducted a program review which identified potential cost reductions the Army could realize if it altered the way it pays allowances for lodging and per diem. Since operational support is necessary to sustain forward operations and the Soldiers serving in these mission essential positions are providing vital support, the Army will introduce a new policy which is expected to have minimal impact on operational support, Soldiers and their Families while presenting the Army with significant long-term cost reduction.

The Secretary of the Army directed the Army Staff to develop a TCS Action Plan to fix the identified challenges so the 16,000 Soldiers currently on TCS orders and their Families have a process that makes sense, is predictable, and honors their willingness and commitment to serve in long-term positions. After thorough coordination and discussion, the Secretary approved the Action Plan developed by the staff. These changes are intended to make TCS orders the exception rather than the rule for Soldiers deployed in validated long-term assignments. The revised policies do not apply to Soldiers in the combat zone or qualified hazardous duty area.

What's next? Effective Aug. 15, 2007, long-term TCS /TDY assignments will not be authorized unless a waiver is approved by the Asistant Secretary of the Army (Manpower and Reserve Affairs). Units will submit waiver requests through the chain of command, endorsed by a major general or above. The objectives of the policy are to limit TCS status to periods of 180 days or less and to use PCS or long-term TDY assignments for contingency requirements lasting longer than 180 days. Incumbents will be offered PCS. In addition, Soldiers who are granted waivers for TDY beyond 180 days will be reimbursed at a reduced per diem rate of 55 percent of the maximum daily locality per diem rate.

Between Aug. 15 and Sept. 30, the Army will instruct the field to take actions to document, or eliminate directed missions. If the Soldier does not accept or is not offered either PCS or long-term TCS, the Soldier will remain in a TCS status until the current order expires or until Jan. 31,2008, whichever is earlier, and then be released from active duty.

If the Soldier accepts PCS, he or she will receive a housing allowance based on the permanent duty station (PDS) to which he or she has been ordered. Soldiers who are granted waivers for TCS beyond 180 days will use government lodging solutions if available. Soldiers in this status, using government lodging solutions, will receive full reimbursement for meals and incidental expenses (M&IE) unless government dining facilities are available.

In implementing these changes to how it fills long-term contingency requirements the Army will take great care to eliminate or minimize the impact on operations, and on Soldiers and their Families. The present strategic environment clearly shows these requirements will remain over time. Hence, the Army needs an efficient and responsive system to continually validate these requirements, and to sustain them.

INFORMATION YOU CAN USE

- 2007 Strategic Communication Guide - Be Army Strong, and Army Smart. Read the 2007 Army Strategic Communication Guide.

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