Re: Eight Soldiers Plan to Sue Over Army Tours of Duty
Sent: Wednesday, December 15, 2004 4:07 PM
Subject: "Eight Soldiers Plan to Sue Over Army Tours of Duty"
(The attached letter was sent to, but not published by, The New York Times.)
Re: Ms. Davey's article on Monday, December 6, 2004, "Eight Soldiers Plan to Sue Over Army Tours of Duty"
The assertion in the article that the extension of tours of duty "was first instituted" during the Persian Gulf War is not accurate as stated.
In the spring of 1961, President John F. Kennedy, smarting over the criticism of his administration's handling of the ill-fated Cuban Bay of Pigs invasion, declared that the "Berlin crisis" had suddenly escalated. Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, testifying before Congress as to the need to extend the tours of duty of the military to face that "new" threat, persuaded Congress to pass a resolution authorizing the extensions.
Whereas the tour of duty extensions in 1961 were with the specific approval of Congress, and that may be a distinguishing factor from the current situation, the effect was the same: the unilateral abrogation of military personnel contracts by the Department of Defense.
Donald B. Bruck
(The writer served in the Air Force at the time and had his contractual three-year tour of duty extended by over seven months and, as a result, had to defer his admission to graduate school by a full year. His tour extension was in direct conflict with the assurances provided to Congress by Secretary McNamara, as recorded in the Congressional Record at the time, that no personnel scheduled to return to school would be extended.)