8 month tours?

OK I'll freely admit I'm not infantry and seldom get nearer danger than KAF or Bastion so might well be talking out of my hoop.

But a conversation I had this morning got me thinking. 6 month Op tours are theoretically coming round every four years, or will do now Telic has wound down. But why not switch to 8 month tours?

I know no one wants to be out there longer but again, theoretically tours and PDT would come round only every 6 years, and which sounds better, one 8 month tour every six years or two 6 month tours every 8? No idea of Optag, PDT and the rests typical costs, but only having to run it three times in two years is probably cheaper than running it four. That might be handy now we're broke.

It would also help give a bit more breathing space on the air bridge to and from theatre. With people cycling through less often that would also help make R&R trips easier than at present!

There's probably something I've failed to consider with all this, so any thoughts?
Problem with eight months would be....

More R and R.
Burn out on tour.

The Yanks do 12 - 18 (and longer) but they have to pull their units out of the line every so often for R & R in theatre.


The tours in Afghan are already getting on for 7 months long once you've taken the rip into account. In 2007 we arrived at the beginning of April and we left near the end of October.

And then when you add the PDT and the training we do before the PDT kicks in you can probably add another couples of months on to that with exercises and the like before you deploy.

I think an extra month wouldn't do much to ease the pressure and would simply burn the blokes out quicker, especially the guys who'll end up in a FOB or in the case of the BRF out on patrol for the majority of that time.
Some people reguarly have done 8 month tours, even tours back to back. I think it depends of the trade, or their usefullness.

It shouldnt be too much to make the standard tour 8 months long, with a R+R at the 2, 4, and 6 month intervals. Nice idea. Put it on a Post Card to whoever the Prime Minister is right now. (Cant bring myself to say his name)
I suppose those in safer billets could cope with anything up to a year.... what it would do to retention on the otehr hand I wouldn't like to guess!!!
In my humble opinion people who are keen on the longer tour either work in the budget saving side of the military/mod or spend their tours in Bastion/KAF either of which is more then comfortable for an extended period however majority of locations outside are not.

As someone mentioned the benefits of extending a tour by two months would not outway the damage it could do to frontline units in terms of combat effectiveness and moral.
I dont think there is a solution to the problem but think 6month tours are the lesser of many evils.

Perhaps the answer may be units specialising in certain specific tasks for each and every tour and being given specific kit to task to train within the UK for that job (aware that some units already do this but perhaps to go further)
Yes this may narrow our ability as a whole but let us be honest and accept we could not deploy any significant force anywhere else in the world whilst Afghanistan is in its current state so perhaps it is best to focus fully on the task at hand.

I believe with the exception of some taskings we operate a 'jack of all trades,master of none' policy with regards to operational deployments, perhaps a more specific role for each unit deployed and shorter but more frequent tours within that role for a set period, say two years, would allow us to deploy troops who know their jobs to a far more professional and operationally effective level then is current, for example 2xbatt deployed 4 on 4 off in Air assault role in theatre, training specifically in all tasks using wide variety of SH (both UK and ally)for that role and not dealing with other taskings unless absolutely necessary.
Fcuk it, I think I'll train as a divorce lawyer. I'll make a fortune.

Seriously though would we not get better continuity by simply rotating a company group at a time, not the entire brigade, a rolling move as it were?
9 and 12 month tours are now a reality for some people not filling 'fighting' jobs. There have been arguments in favour of increasing tour lengths (to 8 or even 12 months) and also in reducing tour lengths to 4 months ( no R&R, 100% combat power for the full tour etc) doing the rounds for some time. I think 6 month tours every two/two and a half years is reasonable, as long as 'the sh*t inbetween' is reduced to the minimum; although I say that as an officer who bounces in and out of a Battalion, rather than a jock who remains with the Bn for his entire career. From a personal perspective the prospect of a 12 month tour will seriously make me reconsider my position in HM Forces - US experience that young families are really struggling with it.
Whats your problem as a Nurse I did 9 months on a Telic tour & as the previous poster said there was many others in a similar boat
9 months as a nurse is very different from 9 months as point man, the fact that you dont see the difference says enough.

If I was told I was guaranteed to be staying in KAF or Bastion with no time on the ground I would happily accept the extension, as well I should. After all are you not there to support the teeth arm (I include all groups inf,eng,log etc in this) of the force in theatre? the people for example whose scoff doesnt come from the pizza hut by the naafi?

From a personal view I was fortunate enough not to be constrained to a FOB on my last tour but bounced about all over, I can honestly say how blokes survive six months in Inkerman is beyond me and based on that alone I could not support an extension just for the poor blokes that might have to live there,pure shitehole.
Well heard from someone who works in AFG that the accomodation is being hugely expanded. This is supposedly to accomodate families, at least for the Americans, when AFG will become a posting rather than a tour
When it comes to managing commitments there are a range of options: shorter tours no r&r, longer tours and bigger tour intervals etc. Take your pick, they all have merits if you just want to manage the war.

However, I think the key issue is what do we need to do to win? I'd rather do a bloody long tour once than getting back on the dam horse every 18-24 months for the rest of my career.

Maybe then we would be a lot more focused about finishing this campaign than seeing our tour out with our fingers crossed.
If you think for one minute that you could extend the tour from 6 months to 8, without some MOD suit identifying that a saving could be made by cutting an Infantry Bn or two (instead of 4 Bns to cover two years, you now only need 3!)

Remember when the NI tours were 4 months long? Took 3 Battalions to cover one year, extend tours to six months, hey presto, you only need 2 Inf Bns!! so one could be disbanded!

scots_wahey was quite correct (and very honest) when he said;

"although I say that as an officer who bounces in and out of a Battalion, rather than a jock who remains with the Bn for his entire career".

OK for Officers (god bless them who just need the Op tick in the box before taking up a desk somewhere nice), but the NCO's and (in my case) Gdsm would suffer terribly.


Accompanied tours? No good at all, in the mid 80's I did a 2 year tour and the Sgts mess was full as none of them rightly believed they would have any time off, a long weekend every month with ticket was provided for the married unacompanied and they seemed to hold together better than the young family/jnco set ups when op necessity took over. The rifle companies were supposed to do a 6 week rotation, ops, camp, Bde reserve and out of camp training. Bde reserve was permanently deployed, out of camp training was usually skipped as the op tempo was pretty high. In fact my old rifle company lost its adv trg ex on the Isle of Man in favour of a Defence ex. Yeah boss I'd much rather be digging in than canoeing to the pub! It was the only adv trg for the 2 years and it was changed the day before deployment! They couldnt work out why the rifle platoons were down to 18 all ranks on average!
8 Month tours? It takes The RAF that long to get you home on your R n R... try again!
The Aussies have switched to 8 month tours and it is about as popular as a fart in a spacesuit with most of them. we get a shed load of extra money for Op tours but it doesn't make the 8 months any better. I was fortunate to be on the last 6 monther, the blokes that replaced us said it was a crap timeframe. They still only got 1 R&R too.
I remember going on Telic 8, wich was meant to be a 6 monther, but got pushed out to 7 1/2 to 8 months. This was due to herrick picking up in hellmand (summer 06) and the extra flights needed to cover it.

Id say a lot of people were burning out towards the end of tour, considering the bulid up and optag started in january. Was a busy time. The tour started busy and got busier, all the way up till the end of the tour, when op sinbad was in full swing. This is from the perspective of an Engr Sqn. I imagine its heavier work on herrick in an Inf coy gp.

I dont think 8 monthers would be a good idea unless a decent RnR package was put in place. Also some decent downtime when the tour is over. I can't see that happening though. As mentioned in a previous post, it doesnt seam like your back home 2 minutes and you've got a new OC/CO who is keen as fcuk and chasing an OBE.
I have just returned from Afghanistan, and the duty rumour doing the rounds, is that for not taking your R & R you will be paid £2,000. The theory being that by being out there continuously for 6 months this prepare us for when the tours become 9 months long. As I said just a rumour.

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