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Regulation changes to allow for longer South Korean tours

5/6/2009 - U.S. ARMY GARRISON YONGSAN, South Korea (AFNS) -- Department of Defense officials approved changes to the Joint Federal Travel Regulation that affects the length of military tours in Korea recently.

The revised JFTR allows for 24- or 36-month accompanied tours at bases in Pyeongtaek, Osan, Daegu, Chinhae and Seoul, while two additional locations -- Dongducheon and Uijeongbu -- now offer 24-month accompanied tours.

"This is a great change for everyone. Our servicemembers and their families who can now be stationed here together, our military force in Korea which benefits from improved readiness and continuity, and the Republic of Korea" said Army Gen. Walter Sharp, the U.S. Forces Korea commander. "All servicemembers will benefit from the exciting opportunities a tour in Korea offers; training in the full spectrum of combat operations, benefitting from added stability and predictability with their families, and having the chance to see one of the most dynamic and fascinating countries in the world."

The military services have a number of incentive programs in place for service members who accept extended tours in South Korea.

Any Army or Air Force servicemember who accepts a three-year accompanied tour to South Korea will receive $300 in incentive pay every month from arrival in South Korea until departure.

Army and Air Force servicemembers accepting a two-year accompanied tour in Dongducheon and Uijeongbu will also receive the incentive pay, but only if their family members live with them in Area I.

The commander identified a number of benefits that will result from tour normalization to include increased continuity and readiness, and the strengthening of the South Korean and U.S. forces.

Alliance, better training opportunities, and returning cost savings from fewer permanent change of station moves back to the services.

"Stabilizing our warfighters on longer, accompanied tours directly enhances our warfighting capability by enhancing continuity and eliminating the constant churn of mass annual rotations," General Sharp said. "Tour normalization will strengthen the alliance by providing more opportunities for interaction between Americans and Koreans. It allows more families to accompany their service members to the Republic of Korea and experience the dynamic Korean culture and warmth of the Korean people while signaling a strong and visible commitment by the U.S. to the (South Korean forces).

"Now that the JFTR has been changed to accommodate expanded tour lengths, we will continue to focus on improving infrastructure, services and base support to allow for an ever greater number of service members to come to Korea on command-sponsored tours with their families," General Sharp said. "Our goal is to reach the point when the majority of U.S. service members can bring their families to Korea and stay for normal three-year tours."

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