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Army Puts 'Temporary' Back in TCS Orders

Aug 09, 2007

WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Aug. 9, 2007) - The Army is putting the "temporary" back into temporary change of station orders that authorize and fund assignments for Soldiers in contingency support positions that are not in a combat zone.

Effective Aug. 15, TCS orders will be issued only for assignments of 180 days or less, unless a waiver is granted. Additionally, Soldiers will not be approved for two sets of 180-day orders within the same 365-day period. The changes are intended to ensure Soldiers and Families have predictable, reasonable service requirements.

"The 16,000 Soldiers currently on TCS orders and their Families deserve a process that makes sense, is predictable, and honors their willingness and commitment to sacrifice and serve," said Ronald J. James, assistant secretary of the Army for manpower and Reserve affairs.

A presidential order dated Sept. 14, 2001, authorized the Army to call on individual ready reservists to fill jobs left vacant by Soldiers deploying into operational theaters. The positions included such missions as staffing operations centers, training Soldiers at mobilization centers and guarding sensitive areas. Though the assignments were expected to be short term, many Soldiers have served on assignments requiring them to extend in TCS status for years.

Being on TCS or Temporary Duty Station orders entitles Soldiers to lodging and per diem reimbursements, in addition to their normal housing allowance. Putting Soldiers on temporary duty of 180 days or less on TCS orders is normal Army procedure because they are essentially maintaining a home away from home and entitled to reimbursement.

The changes ensure the TCS program will remain an appropriate and important vehicle for emerging temporary requirements, and the administrative changes will make the program more manageable and efficient, saving dollars for the war effort.

Col. Richard Shrank, commander of U.S. Army Finance Command, said the Army will tap into the Installation Management Command's resources to enhance the TCS process.

"As Soldiers come into a TDY status we're specifically going to be directing them to Installation Management Command to look for government housing solutions," Col. Shrank said. "We're going to be pushing that as one of the cost-control savings."

IMCOM will provide oversight for the redefined TCS policy. IMCOM will use the Defense Travel System to process orders, manage travel funds, and arrange lodging and meals. It will also maintain an inventory of installation and contract lodging solutions for Soldiers in TCS status, and will be the approving authority for any use of economy per diem lodging.

With IMCOM providing oversight, the revised program will benefit the Army and Soldiers, said Laura Avery, chief of budget execution, IMCOM headquarters.

“In the end it's going to be a lot more cost effective for the government and a more efficient process for the Soldier,” she said.

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