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Army: Tour Intervals

Volume 694: debated on Tuesday 24 July 2007

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Drayson on 26 June (WA 123), what plans have been made to ensure that the operational tour interval for Army battalions returns to the recommended 24 months; by what date this will be achieved; and what compensation will be offered to those units that have had to accept redeployment within fewer than 24 months. [HL4852]

We are committed to achieve tour intervals of 24 months between operational deployments, the so-called Harmony Guidelines, and are generally succeeding in this aim. Over the past two years the Infantry, Royal Armoured Corps, Royal Artillery and Royal Engineers have had a combined average tour interval of about 23 months.

A number of plans are in place to re-balance the Army under Future Army Structures (FAS). These are designed to provide more robust establishments and strengthen those support trades that are in great demand, such as engineers, logisticians and intelligence operators—the key enablers that support our front-line troops. As these changes are implemented, tour intervals for troops should increase. However, Harmony Guidelines inform, and cannot dictate, deployment decisions. Exceptionally, operational demands may continue to require shorter tour intervals in some cases. For this reason there is no firm target date by which the Army is expected to achieve and sustain 24-month tour intervals for all units.

There is no specific compensation mechanism in place for units deployed on operations with a tour interval of fewer than 24 months. However, monetary redress is provided via the “x factor” (a percentage addition to military basic pay which reflects the differences between conditions of service experienced by members of the Armed Forces over a full career and conditions in civilian life) and the operational allowance, which has been paid to all military personnel deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan and the Balkans since 1 April 2006. In addition, the longer separation allowance (LSA) is paid to military personnel whose involuntary separation (for 10 consecutive days or more) precludes them from returning to their duty station, family home or permanent residence.