(CNN) - Amidst all the discussion of the war in Iraq this week was some good news for the men and women of the U.S. Army. President Bush announced that their tours of duty in Iraq will be reduced from 15 to 12 months. Three months might not sound like a lot but having been to Iraq and having seen the conditions under which the troops serve, I can assure you that those three months can make a big difference. That new policy will begin on August 1 of this year.
It means that American soldiers heading to Iraq before August 1 will still have to serve for 15 months in the country; those deploying after August 1 will have to serve in Iraq for one year.
Once the new policy goes into effect, the soldiers also will know that they will have a year at home for every year they serve in Iraq.
“This policy is intended to give units time to properly reset and allow soldiers, families and friends to reconnect,” the Army leadership said in a joint statement sent out to all soldiers. It was signed by the Secretary of the Army Pete Geren, the Army Chief of Staff, General George Casey, and the Sergeant Major of the Army, Kenneth Preston.
“You have chosen a most noble profession,” they said. “With your families standing with you in support, you have borne the increased stress and burden of this war for our Army and our Nation. A grateful Army and Nation thank you.”
No matter what you may think about the war, I think it’s fair to say that almost everyone stands by the troops who are all professionals. They volunteered to serve their country and they’re trying to do the best they can under extremely dangerous circumstances. We worry about them. We wish them only the best.
- Wolf Blitzer