Military personnel will shift to 12-month unaccompanied tours in Iraq and the Arabian Peninsula, according to the Department of Defense.
The Pentagon’s order impacts tours to Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen and Iraq starting on July 2, and also means that military families will no longer accompany service members in Qatar and Bahrain as they previously did.
According to the Pentagon, the order “will not affect the number or readiness of U.S. forces in the region,” but it will scale back the number of dependents as tours in Bahrain and Qatar are completed.
“DoD military personnel currently assigned to the region will finish out their accompanied tours and cycle out gradually over the course of two years,” the Pentagon said in a statement Tuesday evening. “Those who have orders to prepare to move up to 30 days from today will be allowed to [make a permanent change of station] to their accompanied tour, though all accompanied tours must be complete by August 31, 2022.”
Accompanied tours only occur in Qatar and Bahrain under the current Title 10 authority, and the Pentagon said dependents should expect the change is “permanent.” Tour lengths that were previously agreed upon prior to this policy change won’t change.
“They will not be cut short by the tour change, so long as the current accompanied tour is completed by August 31, 2022,” a Pentagon factsheet said.
The Pentagon’s policy change doesn’t cover military personnel and their families in Arabian Peninsula locations under Title 22 authority though, who are typically assigned to U.S. embassies.
The Pentagon said the modification does not stem from issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and rather was a result of the Pentagon’s “continuous reassessment of personnel policies worldwide.”