On Wednesday, the Pentagon released details of a new policy that will require service members who have been listed as non-deployable for 12 months or more to leave the military. The announcement has been viewed as controversial by some, but Defense Secretary Jim Mattis asserts that it’s all about fairness.
“You’re either deployable, or you need to find something else to do,” said Mattis on Saturday, according to a report by the Military Times. “I’m not going to have some people deploying constantly and then other people who seem to not pay that price in the US military.”
“If you can’t go overseas [and] carry a combat load, then obviously someone else has got to go. I want this spread fairly and expertly across the force.”
Under the new rules set by the Pentagon, military personnel who have been deemed non-deployable for the past 12 months or more will be subject to separation procedures.
While discussing the reasoning behind the policy, Mattis asserted that he believed it is not fair to ask healthy military members to shoulder the burden of those who cannot deploy, particularly since multiple deployments increases stress on military families.
“They need time at home, they need time with their families,” said Mattis. “We may enlist soldiers, but we re-enlist families. That’s the way it is. If you can’t keep the family together, then you’re either going to lose the family, or you’re going to lose the soldier, and that’s a net loss for our society and our military.”
Around 235,000 service members, or approximately 11 percent of the 2.1 million active duty, reservist, and National Guard personnel serving today, are considered non-deployable according to Command Sgt. Maj. John Troxell, who serves as the Senior Enlisted Adviser to the Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joe Dunford.
Of those 235,000, around 99,000 are listed due to administrative reasons, such as missing immunizations, while 20,000 are not currently deployable because of a pregnancy. 116,000 are on the list for short- or long-term injuries.
Mattis did state that service members injured in the field would be in a category that is exempt from the new policies. “We’ll find a place to use them,” he said. “That’s a special category. They’ve earned that special status.”