Local News

Extended Deployment Takes Family by Surprise

Posted April 12, 2007 7:27 p.m. EDT
Updated April 13, 2007 1:57 a.m. EDT

— Susan Shue was watching TV Wednesday when she got the news.

Her husband, who has been in Afghanistan since January, will have to stay overseas longer than expected.

It's the kind of news soldiers and their families shudder to hear: Your deployment is extended.

The military just decided that instead of yearlong tours, all active-duty Army troops will spend 15 months overseas.

The news is bad enough, but many families at Fort Bragg didn’t like the way it was delivered, including Shue of Fayetteville.

“To have it sprung on [the troops]. For my husband to wake up in the morning and read it on the Internet,” she said.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates was also angry about the media leak.

“I’ll be very blunt. Some very thoughtless person in this building made the unilateral decision yesterday to deny the Army the opportunity to notify unit commanders,” he said.

Secretary Gates said with this new deployment standard, troops can stay home for 12 months before re-deploying. In the past, there have been Fort Bragg troops who returned home for a couple of months -- only to be deployed again.

Major Tom Earnhardt, 82nd Airborne spokesman, said it's too early to know how this will affect Fort Bragg units.

With two kids and a dog to care for, a lawn to mow, plus the neighbor’s kids she babysits, Shue has her hands full.

“You don’t have someone at the end of the night to lay next to in bed and just say, ‘Whoa! The day I had! You know, you would never believe it,’” she said.