"More Fair"


This is a post about when the Army tries to make things "more fair." Sigh.

My husband belongs to a branch of the Army that does shorter but more frequent deployments. It's meant to roughly be an 8-months-on, 8-months-off sort of thing.

Last year, my husband was supposed to be gone from early May until early January. But the Powers That Be noticed that this would mean his company would miss two Christmases in a row, so they decided to bring my husband's company home two weeks early and send their replacement out, since the replacement would be home the following Christmas. That way everyone gets a Christmas home. I thought it was remarkable that anyone even noticed or cared who missed holidays, to be honest, and I happily welcomed my husband home five days before Christmas.

However, this caused new problems. Now my husband's company hadn't done an eight month deployment; they'd done seven and a half. So now that was unfair. To make up for it, they have extended his upcoming deployment to try to even things out. So that makes 7.5 months deployed, 7 months dwell time, and then a 9 month deployment. This makes things "fair" to all parties involved and will get them back on the 8-months-on, 8-months-off.

Here's my beef: Most of the people who did that first deployment have PCSed or rotated away from the company. It's not the same group of soldiers going on the two deployments. So while it might be "more fair" for my husband to even out with the other company, it's "less fair" to all the folks who just PCSed here and weren't involved in the first place. And "less fair" in a lucky sense to the folks who got the shorter deployment and then moved into a non-deployable job.

Plus, when my husband returns from this nine month deployment, he will PCS a few months later, likely to another unit that will be deploying right away. So he won't have a "more fair" dwell time. All this "fairness" that he'll be creating by going on the longer deployment will be enjoyed by future members of his team, not him.

The Army has spent years making pronouncements about ensuring soldiers their dwell time. We are making deployments longer, but we guarantee 12 months in between deployments, they keep saying. What they have failed to take into account while trying to make things "more fair" is that by the time folks mobilize for those 15 month deployments, and get gone and get home, it's usually time for them to PCS. They don't get to stick around for their guaranteed dwell time; they move and get luck-of-the-draw for whatever their new unit's schedule is.

I wish the Army would quit trying to guarantee us fairness. I can handle the fact that my husband went shorter last time and now ought to go longer next time. But don't try to feed it to me as some sort of over-arching "fairness" that balances out the world of deployments. There is no "fairness" in these things, so I can't stand when they try to pretend that there is. As of 2008, only 57% of active duty military havd been to Iraq or Afghanistan. And only 31% of soldiers had gone more than once. There is no perfect equality in these sorts of things, and I can accept it and live with it.

But please don't try to sell it to me as "more fair."

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