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Troops to Serve Longer in Iraq

Many will spend more time in combat zones than the boys of World War II
By Sarah Levy,  Newser User
Posted Apr 12, 2007 6:46 AM CDT
Troops to Serve Longer in Iraq
Arkansas Army National Guard Sgt. John Richmond of Howe, Okla., left, and Sgt. Rosendo Diaz of Ozark, Ark., pack equipment in preparation for deployment to Iraq at Camp Robinson in North Little Rock, Ark., Tuesday, April 10, 2007. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)    (Associated Press)

(Newser) – Army units in Iraq and Afghanistan will have their tours of duty extended to 15 months, from the standard one year, the military said yesterday. The policy—enacted to alleviate troop shortages—allows soldiers to remain at home for at least one year between assignments.  “Our forces are stretched," Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates said, "there’s no question about that.”

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Democrats, pushing for a deadline for withdrawing troops from Iraq, expressed concern that the move will damage morale, recruiting and retention. Meanwhile, some soldiers are getting the news of their extensions second-hand: One sergeant spotted it  while web surfing. “We’re just laughing,” said a bewildered Captain Brice Cooper, “It’s so unbelievable, it’s humorous.” (Read more Iraq stories.)

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