Q&A: How Long Is a Deployment in the Army?


The military, like other military branches, deploys troops to help support global military operations. Over the course of a soldier’s career, they can deploy to different locations and for different durations. Understanding how long Army deployments last can help service members and families prepare for their absence. In this article, we discuss military deployment and take a look at who is eligible for deployments, how long deployments last, and the typical deployment cycle for the military.

An Army deployment is when an Army service member temporarily moves from his home post to another location outside of the United States for a set period of time. Typically, active service members participate in a deployment cycle, which means they have specific dates and times for their deployments. The deployment cycle begins when the military notifies a soldier of their deployment and ends when that member returns and re-enters their pre-deployment life.

Related: What is a military service tour?

Who is eligible for deployment?

There are thousands of military personnel eligible for deployment. There are certain requirements that a person meets before being available for a deployment task. Some of the people the military selects for deployment include:

Fully Qualified Soldiers

When soldiers first enlist in the military, they undergo rigorous training and education regimes. During their training, these people are exempt from deployment. Once they arrive at their first duty station and are fully qualified in their duties, they can be deployed.

Soldiers in good physical shape

In addition to becoming fully qualified, the military expects soldiers to pass and maintain the military’s fitness requirements. This includes passing fitness assessments, such as push-ups, pull-ups, and running. People in need of additional physical training can attend training sessions until they reach military fitness standards. Once they have successfully completed all of the fitness events, they are eligible for deployment.

Related: All about the branches of the military: descriptions and roles

Who is exempt from deployment?

In addition, certain groups of individuals are exempt from deployment selection for a defined period. Some people who are temporarily exempt from deployment screening include women who are pregnant or have recently given birth and people who have medical exemptions preventing them from performing deployment duties. Many of these people have a set period during which the military is unable to deploy them, and exempt soldiers typically receive these exemptions on medical waivers. However, after the expiration of a medical exemption, many service members become eligible for a deployed mission.

How long does a deployment in the military last?

The length of military deployments can vary between 90 days and 15 months, however, many deployments typically last between six and 12 months. The length of an individual’s deployment depends on several factors, including:

  • Deployment location
  • Type of mission
  • Military professional specialty
  • Active service status
  • Operational timeout (OPTEMPTO)
  • Staff shortages
  • Conflict status

Are there any prerequisites for deployment?

Before the military deploys its military, they attend training, medical assessment, and briefings to ensure they have the appropriate training and overall readiness for an upcoming deployment. Some of the military’s expectations of its members prior to deployment include:

  • Family care plan established: Many members have families who stay at the member’s home station. In some cases, they need a family care plan to ensure their family has the support, resources and supervision while the member is away.
  • Fitness test completed: Service members regularly perform physical fitness tests to certify their physical readiness. Members may need to take or retake fitness tests to ensure they are up to date throughout the deployment cycle.
  • Medical readiness assessments completed: The member of the military completes dental, medical and psychological assessments to certify that they are physically capable of participating in deployed duties. Service members complete these assessments before each deployment.
  • On-the-job training completed: Many members must complete several on-the-job training courses or obtain certifications before they are considered fully qualified in their jobs. Completion of this training ensures that members can perform the tasks and jobs that the military expects of them during their deployment.
  • Updated Deployment Training Course: Prior to each deployment, members attend specific training courses educating them on various deployment skills. These courses vary in length and presentation formats, such as online or in-person training sessions.

Related: Active service: FAQ

What does deployment training consist of?

Several courses attended by military personnel help prepare them for deployed operations. Some courses are available online for members of the military, while others require in-person attendance. Some of the training courses these members attend include:

  • Marksmanship
  • Basic linguistic customs and expressions
  • Survival techniques
  • Observation and reporting procedures
  • Identification of vehicles, aircraft and boats
  • Identification of weapons, uniforms and badges
  • Field sanitation
  • Rules of Engagement (ROE)
  • Integrated safety training
  • Stress management
  • Mine identification and handling procedures
  • First flights and evacuation procedures
  • Terrorism prevention skills
  • Hostage-taking procedures
  • Physical security
  • Land navigation
  • Range estimate
  • Treatment of detainees

Related: Military careers: a definitive guide

What are the phases of deployment in the Army?

Army deployment has several phases that help it prepare for, execute and recover from deployment cycles. The four phases of army deployments include:

Pre-deployment phase

During this phase, military members and their units attend traditional training sessions that help broaden their knowledge of their military duties. Once the military notifies the member or unit of a deployment task, they prepare for deployment. This includes attending deployment briefings, training courses, medical assessments and counseling sessions. This phase ends once the member or unit leaves for deployment.

Deployment phase

This phase begins once the service member begins physical movement to their deployment location. This includes the period of travel between the member’s home station and the theater of operations. The remainder of this phase involves the military carrying out their military duties to support the theater mission. As the member nears the end of this phase, they prepare to return to their home station.

Post-deployment phase

The post-deployment phase involves returning service members to their original facility. Some members may attend pre-reinstatement before returning to their substantive position. This helps them prepare for any changes they might encounter during the reintegration phase of the deployment. Members can also attend information sessions, medical assessments and counseling to assist with reintegration efforts.

Reintegration phase

The final phase of deployment involves the member’s reintegration into family life and into this community. They also resume the military functions they exercise at their home post. In addition, they can attend follow-up briefings, training, counseling and medical evaluations to ensure they return to their lives.

Please note that none of the organizations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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