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Suggested Citation:"3 Characteristics of the Deployed." Institute of Medicine. 2013. Returning Home from Iraq and Afghanistan: Assessment of Readjustment Needs of Veterans, Service Members, and Their Families. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13499.
×

3

CHARACTERISTICS OF THE DEPLOYED

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The focus of this chapter is on the demographic characteristics of US military personnel deployed to Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and/or Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), and it is based on data from the Department of Defense (DOD) Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC) Contingency Tracking System (CTS). A CTS “deployment” for OEF and OIF is defined as “a DOD service member who is or has been physically located within the OEF and/or OIF combat zones or areas of operation (AOR), or has been specifically identified by his/her service as ‘directly supporting’ the OEF and/or OIF mission outside the designated combat zone (e.g., US Air Force aircrew or support personnel located at an airbase outside the combat zone)” (Bonds et al., 2010). The DMDC CTS includes all US military personnel who have been deployed to OEF, OIF, and OND in support of the Global War on Terror from September 11, 2001, to the present time. The committee, however, only has records through December 31, 2010. The file the committee received with the variables requested represents a snapshot in time, that is, the status of the deployed at the time the file was created. Thus, all descriptive analyses in the chapter reflect the characteristics of the deployed at one point in time. The committee did not use the descriptive analyses in this chapter to link with any other data in the report.

DEMOGRAPHICS

The following analyses are based on the 2.1 million service members who had been deployed to OEF, OIF, and/or OND by the end of 2010 (Table 3.1).1 Over half those deployed were in the Army, including all components; 28% were in the Regular Army alone. The proportion of those deployed by branch in the Regular components ranged from 56% in the Army to 84% in the Navy and Marine Corps. In turn, those in the National Guard and reserves (combined across all services) constituted one-third of all those deployed.

__________________

1Although these descriptive analyses would ideally have included data and reference comparisons with the nondeployed or the total force during this period, providing comparable data would have required access to identifiable data on all the nondeployed as well as all those deployed. The committee was not able to obtain full identifiable information on all the nondeployed to conduct the descriptive analyses.

Suggested Citation:"3 Characteristics of the Deployed." Institute of Medicine. 2013. Returning Home from Iraq and Afghanistan: Assessment of Readjustment Needs of Veterans, Service Members, and Their Families. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13499.
×

TABLE 3.1 Service Members Deployed, by Branch of Service and Componenta as of 2010

Component Army Navy Air Force Marine Corps Coast Guard TOTAL
Regular 608,634 323,701 280,182 219,335 4,813 1,436,665
National Guard 298,728 N/A 79,777 N/A N/A 378,505
Reserves 173,825 60,161 54,632 42,316 1,271 332,205
TOTAL 1,081,187 383,862 414,591 261,651 6,084 2,147,375

aIn contrast with the Army and Air Force, the Navy and Marine Corps do not have National Guard components. Entire file contained 2,147,398, but 23 had an unknown component.

SOURCE: Defense Manpower Data Center.

Pay Grade

As shown in Table 3.2, over 85% of those deployed in all components and service branches were enlisted, with nearly 6 in 10 of the enlisted in the senior enlisted grades (E5–E9). The proportion of total enlisted personnel (E1–E9) supporting the operations ranged from about 78% in the Coast Guard to about 90% in the Marine Corps. The proportion of senior enlisted personnel in those deployed ranged from 40% in the Marine Corps to about 62% in the Air Force.

TABLE 3.2 Service Members Deployed, by Branch of Service and Pay Grade, as of 2010

Pay Grade Army, N (column %) Navy, N (column %) Air Force, N (column %) Marine Corps, N (column %) Coast Guard, N (column %) TOTAL, N (column %)
E1–E4 405,014
(37.5)
121,159
(31.6)
83,832
(20.2)
132,049
(50.5)
1,388
(22.8)
743,442
(34.6)
E5–E9 514,722
(47.6)
210,208
(54.8)
258,234
(62.3)
104,225
(39.8)
3,367
(55.3)
1,090,756
(50.8)
O1–3 69,312
(6.4)
23,012
(6.0)
27,905
(6.7)
11,260
(4.3)
638
(10.5)
132,127
(6.2)
O4–O10 63,789
(5.9)
27,197
(7.1)
44,639
(10.8)
11,402
(4.4)
440
(7.2)
147,467
(6.9)
Warrant Officer 28,350
(2.6)
2,275
(0.6)
0
(0)
2,716
(1.0)
251
(4.1)
33,592
(1.6)
TOTAL
(row %)
1,081,187
(50.3)
383,851
(17.9)
414,610
(19.3)
261,652
(12.2)
6,084
(0.3)
2,147,384
(100)

NOTE: Entire file contained 2,147,398, but 11 Navy and three Air Force personnel had missing pay grade.

SOURCE: Defense Manpower Data Center.

NOTE: Entire file contained 2,147,398, but 11 Navy and three Air Force personnel had missing pay grade.
SOURCE: Defense Manpower Data Center.

Sex

Of the military personnel serving in OEF and/or OIF through 2010, about 88% were men and about 12% women (Table 3.3); the proportion of women deployed (across all components) ranged from about 3% in the Marine Corps to over 17% in the Air Force. By pay grade, the proportion of women among those deployed ranged from about 8% of the warrant officers to about 16% of the junior officers (O1–O3). The proportion of women deployed by branch and pay

Suggested Citation:"3 Characteristics of the Deployed." Institute of Medicine. 2013. Returning Home from Iraq and Afghanistan: Assessment of Readjustment Needs of Veterans, Service Members, and Their Families. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13499.
×

grade ranged from about 3% of junior enlisted marines to over 20% of junior officers in the Air Force.

TABLE 3.3 Proportion of Women Deployed, by Branch of Service and Pay Grade, as of 2010

Pay Grade Army, N (%) Navy, N (%) Air Force, N (%) Marine Corps, N (%) Coast Guard, N (%) TOTAL, N (%)
E1–E4 46,458
(11.5)
18,163
(15.0)
14,651
(17.4)
4,254
(3.2)
115
(8.3)
83,641
(11.3)
E5–E9 56,673
(11.0)
26,163
(12.4)
39,545
(15.3)
4,534
(4.3)
205
(6.1)
127,120
(11.7)
O1–O3 11,265
(16.3)
3,928
(17.1)
5,727
(20.5)
848
(7.5)
80
(12.5)
21,848
(16.5)
O4–O10 7,108
(11.1)
2,741
(10.1)
5,568
(12.5)
378
(3.3)
36
(8.2)
15,831
(10.7)
Warrant officer 2,351
(8.3)
113
(5.0)
0
(0)
117
(4.3)
10
(4.0)
2,591
(7.7)
TOTAL women (% of total deployed) 123,855
(11.5)
51,108
(13.3)
65,491
(15.8)
10,131
(3.9)
446
(7.3)
251,031
(11.7)

NOTE: N, number of women in each group; %, percentage based on denominators in Table 3.2. Entire file contained 251,033 women, but two Navy women had missing pay grade, and 24 Army personnel had missing sex.
SOURCE: Defense Manpower Data Center.

Age

As shown in Table 3.4, the average age of those deployed was 33.4 years. Half the deployed were 25–34 years old at the end of 2010 (about 72% were 25–44 years old), with approximately equal proportions either under 25 years old or 45 years old or older. The proportions of those 25–34 years old by branch ranged from about 45% in the Air Force to about 60% in the Marine Corps. In addition, about 25% of marines were less than 25 years old (about 84% less than 35 years old). Marine Corps deployed had the lowest mean age, 29.5 years, and Air Force deployed had the highest mean age, 35.8 years.

TABLE 3.4 Age Distributions and Mean Ages of Deployed Service Members, by Service Branch, as of 2010

Age (years) Army, N (column %) Navy, N (column %) Air Force, N (column %) Marine Corps, N (column %) Coast Guard, N (column %) TOTAL, N (column %)
<20 4,084
(0.4)
650
(0.2)
222
(0.05)
827
(0.3)
1
(0.02)
5,784
(0.3)
20–24 164,904
(15.3)
48,364
(12.6)
39,222
(9.5)
63,490
(24.3)
456
(7.5)
316,436
(14.7)
25–29 316,570
(29.3)
111,897
(29.2)
101,310
(24.4)
107,262
(41.0)
1,801
(29.6)
638,840
(29.8)
30–34 212,293
(19.6)
83,773
(21.8)
84,739
(20.4)
48,460
(18.5)
1,619
(26.6)
430,884
(20.1)
Suggested Citation:"3 Characteristics of the Deployed." Institute of Medicine. 2013. Returning Home from Iraq and Afghanistan: Assessment of Readjustment Needs of Veterans, Service Members, and Their Families. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13499.
×
Age (years) Army, N (column %) Navy, N (column %) Air Force, N (column %) Marine Corps, N (column %) Coast Guard, N (column %) TOTAL, N (column %)
35–39 134,686
(12.5)
51,049
(13.3)
56,220
(13.6)
19,789
(7.6)
888
(14.6)
262,632
(12.2)
40–44 113,491
(10.5)
43,574
(11.4)
52,842
(12.7)
11,973
(4.6)
632
(10.4)
222,512
(10.4)
45–49 76,570
(7.1)
28,988
(7.6)
45,493
(11.0)
6,606
(2.5)
400
(6.6)
158,057
(7.4)
50–54 35,050
(3.2)
11,025
(2.9)
20,322
(4.9)
2,435
(0.9)
174
(2.9)
69,006
(3.2)
≥55 23,466
(2.2)
4,537
(1.2)
14,243
(3.4)
810
(0.3)
113
(1.9)
43,169
(2.0)
TOTAL 1,081,114 383,857 414,613 261,652 6,084 2,147,320
Mean age 33.4 33.6 35.8 29.5 34.1 33.4

NOTE: Entire file contained 2,147,398, but 73 Army and 5 Navy personnel had missing age.
SOURCE: Defense Manpower Data Center.

The numbers of regular component and National Guard and reserve component officers and enlisted members by age are summarized in Table 3.5. On the average, those deployed from the National Guard and reserves were older than service members in the regular component, 36 vs 32 years old, respectively. Among National Guard and reserve component officers, 75% were 35 years old or older compared with 59% of regular component officers, primarily because of differences between junior officers (grades O1–O3), 47% vs 26%. Forty percent of the National Guard and reserve component enlisted members were under 30 years old compared with 55% of the regular component enlisted members; the magnitudes of the differences were consistent in the junior and senior enlisted.

Race and Ethnicity

The percentage of missing or unknown data in the DMDC database is especially high for race and ethnicity, particularly for Hispanic origin. Of service members with known race (92%) serving in OEF and/or OIF, about 77% were white, 17% black, 4% Asian, and 2% other races. Of those with reported ethnicity (59%), about 18% were of Hispanic origin.2

__________________

2 Because the proportions with missing data on race and ethnicity are significantly higher than the other characteristics in this chapter, we were concerned about providing additional descriptive analyses based on these variables.

Suggested Citation:"3 Characteristics of the Deployed." Institute of Medicine. 2013. Returning Home from Iraq and Afghanistan: Assessment of Readjustment Needs of Veterans, Service Members, and Their Families. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13499.
×

TABLE 3.5 Age Distributions and Mean Age of Deployed Service Members, by Component and Pay Grade, as of 2010

  Regular Reserve/National Guard
Age (years) E1–E4, N (column %) E5–E9, N (column %) O1–O3, N (column %) O4–O10, N (column %) Warrant Officer, N (column %) TOTAL, N (column %) E1–E4, N (column %) E5–E9, N (column %) O1–O3, N (column %) O4–O10, N (column %) Warrant Officer, N (column %) TOTAL, N (column %)
<20 5,057
(0.9)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
5,057
(0.4)
727
(0.4)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
727
(0.1)
20–24 204,874
(38.3)
41,790
(6.0)
2,710
(3.1)
0
(0)
38
(0.2)
249,412
(17.4)
53,298
(26.0)
12,653
(3.3)
344
(0.8)
0
(0)
99
(0.8)
67,024
(9.4)
25–29 225,939
(42.2)
201,384
(28.7)
31,666
(36.0)
0
(0)
980
(4.8)
459,971
(32.0)
85,207
(41.0)
84,847
(21.8)
7,483
(17.0)
0
(0)
1,329
(10.0)
178,867
(25.2)
30–34 77,491
(14.5)
175,745
(25.1)
31,161
(35.4)
8,026
(8.8)
3,870
(19.0)
296,298
(20.6)
40,184
(19.3)
74,663
(19.2)
15,650
(35.5)
1,746
(3.1)
2,329
(17.6)
134,573
(18.9)
35–39 16,339
(3.1)
115,165
(16.4)
14,252
(16.2)
22,378
(24.6)
5,121
(25.2)
173,258
(12.1)
14,101
(6.8)
54,996
(14.1)
10,753
(24.4)
7,554
(13.4)
1,967
(14.8)
89,372
(12.6)
40–44 5,123
(1.0)
90,994
(13.0)
6,311
(7.2)
25,825
(28.4)
4,818
(23.7)
133,071
(9.3)
7,991
(3.9)
58,381
(15.0)
6,739
(15.3)
14,144
(25.1)
2,186
(16.5)
89,441
(12.6)
45–49 716
(0.1)
57,620
(8.2)
1,541
(1.8)
20,237
(22.2)
3,611
(17.8)
83,725
(5.8)
3,704
(1.8)
50,647
(13.0)
2,249
(5.1)
15,451
(27.4)
2,278
(17.2)
74,329
(10.5)
50–54 78
(0.01)
15,943
(2.3)
353
(0.4)
9,903
(10.9)
1,401
(6.9)
27,679
(1.9)
1,423
(0.7)
28,343
(7.3)
629
(1.4)
9,574
(17.0)
1,356
(10.2)
41,325
(5.8)
≥55 5
(0)
2,917
(0.4)
70
(0.08)
4,669
(5.1)
483
(2.4)
8,144
(0.6)
534
(0.3)
24,626
(6.3)
211
(0.5)
7,944
(14.1)
1,709
(12.9)
35,024
(4.9)
TOTAL 535,622 701,558 88,064 91,038 20,322 1,436,615 207,799 389,156 44,058 56,413 13,253 710,682
Mean age 26.7 34.4 32.2 43.4 40.5 32.0 29.0 38.4 35.5 47.0 42.6 36.2

NOTE: Entire file contained 2,147,398, but 78 had missing age, and 14 had missing pay grade.
SOURCE: Defense Manpower Data Center.

Suggested Citation:"3 Characteristics of the Deployed." Institute of Medicine. 2013. Returning Home from Iraq and Afghanistan: Assessment of Readjustment Needs of Veterans, Service Members, and Their Families. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13499.
×

Education

Of those deployed to OEF and/or OIF in all service branches and components, less than 1% had less than a high-school education (see Table 3.6). Over two-thirds had a high-school degree or equivalent (GED), and over 30% had at least some college education. Of junior officers (O1–O3), 88% had at least a college degree, and over 70% of those who had advanced degrees were senior officers (O4–O10). High-school degrees and GEDs were most common among junior and senior enlisted, but over 75% of those who had some college education but no college degree were senior enlisted service members.

TABLE 3.6 Education Status of Deployed Service Members, by Pay Grade, as of 2010

  Enlisted Commissioned Officers
Education Status E1–E4, N (column %) E5–E9, N (column %) O1–O3, N (column %) O4–O10, N (column %) Warrant Officer, N (column %) TOTAL, N (column %)
Less than high school 10,722
(1.4)
6,935
(0.6)
55
(0.04)
28
(0.02)
15
(0.04)
17,755
(0.8)
GED 82,194
(11.1)
47,382
(4.3)
82
(0.06)
159
(0.1)
363
(1.1)
130,181
(6.1)
High school 588,084
(79.1)
713,615
(65.4)
1,141
(0.9)
451
(0.3)
5,599
(16.7)
1,308,896
(61.0)
Some college 40,515
(5.5)
218,999
(20.1)
4,837
(3.7)
1,243
(0.8)
16,072
(47.8)
281,669
(13.1)
College graduate 10,978
(1.5)
77,383
(7.1)
94,387
(71.4)
54,328
(36.8)
8,254
(24.6)
245,332
(11.4)
Postcollege 622
(0.1)
10,973
(1.0)
21,675
(16.4)
88,152
(59.8)
1,982
(5.9)
123,406
(5.6)
Unknown 10,327
(1.4)
15,469
(1.4)
9,950
(7.5)
3,106
(2.1)
1,307
(3.9)
40,159
(1.9)
TOTAL 743,442 1,090,756 132,127 147,467 33,592 2,147,384

NOTE: Entire file contained 2,147,398, but 14 had unknown pay grade.
SOURCE: Defense Manpower Data Center.

Marital Status

As shown in Table 3.7, about 59% of those deployed in all services and components were married—from about 40% of the junior enlisted (E1–E4) to 85% of the senior officers (O4– O10). Marital status differed somewhat by branch of service and component. In all components, the proportions of service members married ranged from about 53% in the Marine Corps to about 65% in the Air Force (see Table 3.8). In the regular component, 61% were married—from about 55% in the Marine Corps to about 66% in the Air Force. Among the two reserve components, 55% of the reserves and 58% of the National Guard were married, and the proportion of members married ranged from 44% in the Marine Corps reserves to 65% in the Air National Guard.

Suggested Citation:"3 Characteristics of the Deployed." Institute of Medicine. 2013. Returning Home from Iraq and Afghanistan: Assessment of Readjustment Needs of Veterans, Service Members, and Their Families. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13499.
×

TABLE 3.7 Proportion of Deployed Service Members Married, by Branch of Service and Pay Grade, as of 2010

Pay Grade Army, N (%)a Navy, N (%)a Air Force, N (%)a Marine Corps, N (%)a Coast Guard, N (%)a TOTAL, N (%)a
E1–E4 167,678
(41.1)
48,528
(40.1)
31,687
(37.8)
52,113
(39.5)
545
(39.3)
300,551
(40.4)
E5–E9 347,800
(67.6)
141,121
(67.1)
181,933
(70.5)
68,257
(65.5)
2,194
(65.2)
741,305
(68.0)
O1–O3 41,765
(60.3)
14,233
(61.9)
18,362
(65.8)
6,817
(60.5)
416
(65.2)
81,593
(61.8)
O4–O10 53,889
(84.5)
22,947
(84.3)
38,189
(85.6)
9,934
(87.1)
386
(87.7)
125,345
(85.0)
Warrant officer 23,062
(81.4)
1,968
(86.5)
0
(0)
2,379
(87.6)
222
(88.5)
27,631
(82.3)
TOTAL 634,194
(58.7)
228,800
(59.6)
270,174
(65.2)
139,500
(53.3)
3,763
(61.9)
1,276,431
(59.4)

NOTE: Entire file contained 1,276,431 married, but three Navy and three Air Force personnel had missing pay grade.

aN, number married in each group; % are cell percentages representing the percentage married in each group based on denominators in Table 3.2.

SOURCE: Defense Manpower Data Center.

TABLE 3.8 Proportion of Deployed Service Members Married, by Branch of Service and Component as of 2010

Component Army, N (%)b Navy, N (%)b Air Force, N (%)b Marine Corps, N (%)b Coast Guard, N (%)b TOTAL, N (%)b
Regular 374,939
(61.6)
193,350
(59.7)
183,950
(65.7)
121,090
(55.2)
3,095
(64.3)
876,424
(61.0)
National Guard 166,605
(55.8)
NA 51,564
(64.6)
NA NA 218,169
(57.6)
Reserves 92,650
(53.3)
35,450
(58.9)
34,650
(63.4)
18,409
(43.5)
668
(52.6)
181,827
(54.7)
TOTAL 634,194
(58.7)
228,800
(59.6)
270,174
(65.2)
139,500
(53.3)
3,763
(61.9)
1,276,431
(59.4)

NOTE: Entire file contained 2,147,398, but 10 Air Force and 1 Marine Corps personnel had an unknown component.

aIn contrast with the Army and Air Force, the Navy and Marine Corps do not have National Guard components.

bN, number married in each group; % are cell percentages representing the percentage married in each group based on denominators in Table 3.1.

SOURCE: Defense Manpower Data Center.

Suggested Citation:"3 Characteristics of the Deployed." Institute of Medicine. 2013. Returning Home from Iraq and Afghanistan: Assessment of Readjustment Needs of Veterans, Service Members, and Their Families. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13499.
×

Dependent Children

The proportion of deployed service members in all service branches and components who had dependent children was 49%—from 35% in the Marine Corps to 52% in the Air Force (Table 3.9). Half those in the regular component and National Guard had dependent children compared with 44% in the reserves. The proportion in all branches and components who had dependent children ranged from a low of 28% and 35% among Marine Corps and Coast Guard reserves, respectively, to 53% in the regular Army and Air Force. In all services and components, 69% of those currently married and 11% of those who had never married had dependent children. The number of children of those who had children ranged from 1 to 14; the mean was just under 2 (1.97), with a narrow range of 1.8 in the Marine Corp Reserves to 2.02 in the regular Army.

TABLE 3.9 Proportion of Deployed Service Members with Children,a by Branch of Service and Component,b as of 2010

Component Army, N (%)c Navy, N (%)c Air Force, N (%)c Marine Corps, N (%)c Coast Guard, N (%)c TOTAL, N (%)c
Regular 324,857
(53.4)
156,179
(48.3)
148,786
(53.1)
80,564
(36.7)
2,364
(49.1)
712,750
(49.6)
National Guard 147,663
(49.4)
N/A 40,279
(50.5)
N/A N/A 187,942
(49.7)
Reserves 77,055
(44.3)
29,563
(49.1)
27,150
(49.7)
11,957
(28.3)
442
(34.8)
146,167
(44.0)
Total 549,575
(50.8)
185,742
(48.4)
216,222
(52.2)
92,521
(35.4)
2,806
(46.1)
1,046,866
(48.8)

NOTE: Entire file contained 2,147,398, but 23 had an unknown component.

aChildren were defined as dependents under 21 years old.

bIn contrast with the Army and Air Force, the Navy and Marine Corps do not have National Guard components.

cN, number in each group with children; % are cell percentages representing the percentage with children in each group based on denominators in Table 3.1.

SOURCE: Defense Manpower Data Center.

DEPLOYMENT

Military deployments in support of the operations in Iraq and Afghanistan have varied in duration, frequency, combat intensity, geography, service branch, and service component. Sudden and prolonged deployment and separation from family or home may be enough to warrant implication of deployment as the main exposure, though this approach lacks the understanding of the complex environmental factors that service members may encounter in theater. To begin to understand any lasting health impact of this complex exposure, we must first understand the nature of deployments.

Suggested Citation:"3 Characteristics of the Deployed." Institute of Medicine. 2013. Returning Home from Iraq and Afghanistan: Assessment of Readjustment Needs of Veterans, Service Members, and Their Families. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13499.
×

Number of Deployments

By the end of 2010, 2,147,398 service members had deployed a total of 3,683,746 deployments in support of the operations in Iraq and Afghanistan—an average of 1.72 each and a range in frequency from 1 to 47. Of those who deployed, 57% deployed only once and 43% multiple times. Of those who deployed more than once, nearly two-thirds deployed twice (27% of the total number of deployers), one-fourth deployed three times (10% of the total number of deployers), and about 15% (6% of the total number of deployers) deployed four or more times.

As shown in Tables 3.10 and 3.11, the number of deployments varied substantially among service branches and components. The average number of deployments by service ranged from 1.3 in the Coast Guard and 1.6 in the Army and Marine Corps to 2.1 in the Air Force. Likewise, the proportions of multiple deployers ranged from 19% in the Coast Guard to over half in the Air Force. The proportion having four or more deployments ranged from less than 2% in the Coast Guard and 3% in the Marine Corps to 13% in the Air Force.

The proportion of deployers who had multiple deployments in the National Guard and reserves (35%) was appreciably less than that in the regular component (47%); the average number ranged from 1.56 in the National Guard to 1.77 in the regular component. When one examines the numbers by branch and component, those with the lowest average numbers of deployments were the Coast Guard and Marine Corps reserves (1.22 and 1.29, respectively) and those in the regular Coast Guard (1.28). Those with the highest average numbers of deployments were the Air Force Guard and reserves (2.24 and 2.58, respectively). Over 80% of the two Coast Guard components and over 75% of the Marine Corps reserves had only one deployment compared with fewer than half those in the Air Force Guard and reserve components.

TABLE 3.10 Proportion of Deployed Service Members Deployed Multiple Times, by Branch of Service and Component,a as of 2010

Component Army, N (%)b Navy, N (%)b Air Force, N (%)b Marine Corps, N (%)b Coast Guard, N (%)b TOTAL N (%)b
Regular 287,938
(47.3)
145,043
(44.8)
137,760
(49.2)
107,462
(48.9)
920
(19.1)
679,123
(47.3)
National Guard 88,291
(29.6)
N/A 42,935
(53.8)
N/A N/A 131,226
(34.7)
Reserves 57,201
(32.9)
20,876
(34.7)
28,164
(51.5)
9,943
(23.5)
203
(16.0)
116,387
(35.3)
TOTAL 433,430
(40.1)
165,919
(43.2)
208,859
(50.4)
117,405
(44.9)
1123
(18.5)
926,736
(43.2)

NOTE: Entire file contained 2,147,398, but 10 Air Force and one Marine Corps personnel had an unknown component.

aIn contrast with the Army and Air Force, the Navy and Marine Corps do not have National Guard components.

bN, number with multiple deployments within each group; % are cell percentages representing the percentage with multiple deployments in each group based on denominators in Table 3.1.

SOURCE: Defense Manpower Data Center.

Suggested Citation:"3 Characteristics of the Deployed." Institute of Medicine. 2013. Returning Home from Iraq and Afghanistan: Assessment of Readjustment Needs of Veterans, Service Members, and Their Families. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13499.
×

TABLE 3.11 Mean Number of Deployments,a by Branch of Service and Component,b as of 2010

Component Army Navy Air Force Marine Corps Coast Guard TOTAL
Regular 1.76 1.71 1.94 1.69 1.28 1.77
National Guard 1.38 N/A 2.24 N/A N/A 1.56
Reserves 1.45 1.59 2.58 1.29 1.22 1.64
TOTAL 1.61 1.69 2.08 1.63 1.27 1.72

aThe distributions of average length of deployment, average length of dwell time, and number of deployments were symmetric, and the medians were very similar to the means. Thus, the committee elected to report the means.

bIn contrast with the Army and Air Force, the Navy and Marine Corps do not have National Guard components.

Length of Deployment

Duration of deployment has varied among service branches and service components and has varied temporally over the decade of deployments (see Table 3.12). The committee has presented the range of average deployment durations per service branch. The average length of deployments (total number of months divided by number of deployments) in all branches and components was 7.7 months—8.3 months for single deployers and 6.8 months for multiple deployers. When stratified by branch of service, deployment length ranged from 4.5 months in the Air Force to 9.4 months in the Army, both appreciably higher among single than among multiple deployers. By component, for single and multiple deployers combined, the range of average deployment length was fairly narrow, ranging from 7.5 months in the regular component to 8.0 in the National Guard and reserves. The higher average among the two reserve components is driven largely by single deployers; among those who had multiple deployments, the average length was actually higher in the regular components. By branch and component, average deployment length ranged from 3.5 months in the Air Force National Guard to 11.9 months in the Marine Corps reserves.

TABLE 3.12 Mean Length of Deployment in Months, by Branch of Service and Component,a as of 2010

Component Army Navy Air Force Marine Corps Coast Guard TOTAL
Regular 9.66 6.00 4.89 7.21 5.29 7.52
National Guard 9.21 N/A 3.46 N/A N/A 8.00
Reserves 8.96 6.13 3.85 11.96 5.29 7.96
TOTAL 9.42 6.02 4.48 7.97 6.00 7.67

aIn contrast with the Army and Air Force, the Navy and Marine Corps do not have National Guard components.

Considering deployment length over time, Figure 3.1 displays a consistent pattern for Air Force and Navy personnel who maintained the lowest average length of deployments over the decade of operations. The Army and Marine Corps maintained higher average length of deployments that, as one may expect, spiked during times of heavy combat early in the operations and during the 2006 and 2007 heavy combat periods.

If deployment itself is considered an exposure, the “dose” may impact health, so more deployment time would theoretically be worse for subsequent health outcomes. Therefore, another way to examine duration of deployment is to compare the cumulative deployment length

Suggested Citation:"3 Characteristics of the Deployed." Institute of Medicine. 2013. Returning Home from Iraq and Afghanistan: Assessment of Readjustment Needs of Veterans, Service Members, and Their Families. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13499.
×

for multiple deployers. Overall, as shown in Table 3.13, those with two or more deployments averaged 16.9 months across all deployments combined. By branch of service, cumulative average length of deployment among multiple deployers ranged from 9.7 months in the Coast Guard to 20.9 months in the Army. By component, the range was much narrower, but it was higher, 14.6 months in the National Guard to 17.6 months in the regular component. Comparisons by branch and component, however, showed significantly greater variability: from 8.9 and 9.3 months in the Air Force National Guard and Coast Guard reserves, respectively, to 21.1 months in the Marine Corps reserves and 22.7 months in the regular Army.

image

FIGURE 3.1 Average months deployed, by deployment start date and branch.

TABLE 3.13 Cumulative Deployment Length in Months of Multiple Deployers, by Branch of Service and Component,a as of 2010

Component Army Navy Air Force Marine Corps Coast Guard TOTAL
Regular 22.66 13.30 13.08 15.94 9.94 17.63
National Guard 17.35 N/A 8.89 N/A N/A 14.58
Reserves 17.37 12.08 11.19 21.06 9.32 15.23
TOTAL 20.88 13.14 11.95 16.38 9.65 16.90

aIn contrast with the Army and Air Force, the Navy and Marine Corps do not have National Guard components.

Potentially as impactful on health and other outcomes as the length and frequency of deployment is the time between deployments during which a military member can “reset” before going back into theater. That has become such a focus of concern that in 2011 the Army initiated a 2-year dwell cycle for deploying units that was contingent on demand for personnel in theater. Over the last decade, however, in all services and components, the average dwell time of those deployed two or more times was 21 months, from 16 months in the Marine Corps to about 22 months in the Army and Navy (Table 3.14). By component, the average dwell time was about 24

Suggested Citation:"3 Characteristics of the Deployed." Institute of Medicine. 2013. Returning Home from Iraq and Afghanistan: Assessment of Readjustment Needs of Veterans, Service Members, and Their Families. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13499.
×

months for those in the National Guard compared with about 20 months in the reserves and regular component. Average dwell time ranged from less than 16 months in the regular Marine Corps and Coast Guard to over 26 months in the Army National Guard.

There was also a notable downward trend in the length of dwell time over the decade of operations as seen in dwell times of the regular and reserve National Guard components stratified by service branch (Figures 3.2 and 3.3). Independently, the three components indicate the same trends, although reserve and National Guard components had a substantial decrease in average length of deployment early in 2003, potentially indicating the redeployment of reserve and National Guard back into theater as the operations in Iraq were about to begin (Figure 3.3).

TABLE 3.14 Mean Dwell Time of Multiple Deployers, in Months, by Branch of Service and Component,a as of 2010

Component Army Navy Air Force Marine Corps Coast Guard TOTAL
Regular 20.37 22.46 21.95 15.76 15.86 20.40
National Guard 26.21 N/A 21.08 N/A N/A 25.53
Reserves 21.85 21.31 17.74 18.69 19.62 20.48
TOTAL 21.75 22.32 21.20 16.00 16.54 21.00

aIn contrast with the Army and Air Force, the Navy and Marine Corps do not have National Guard components.

image

FIGURE 3.2 Average dwell time, by deployment end date and branch, regular component only.

Suggested Citation:"3 Characteristics of the Deployed." Institute of Medicine. 2013. Returning Home from Iraq and Afghanistan: Assessment of Readjustment Needs of Veterans, Service Members, and Their Families. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13499.
×

image

FIGURE 3.3 Average dwell time, by deployment end date and branch, reserve and Guard components only.

Location of Deployment

Understanding where military members deployed can be just as important as understanding how long and how often they deployed. The statement of task and the focus of this report is on all those deployed to OEF and OIF, including (a) those physically located within the OEF and OIF combat zones or areas of operation (AORs) and (b) those specifically identified by their service as “directly supporting” the OEF and/or OIF mission outside the designated combat zone. For many purposes, a more refined analysis would focus on deployed members who specifically served in the combat areas of operation in Afghanistan, Iraq, or both. While the DOD DMDC Contingency Tracking System contains data fields for specifying the location of each deployment designated as in direct support of the OEF, OIF, or OND mission, some individual records do not have movements in and out of country. In particular, before 2005, while DMDC did track deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, the location codes were mostly unknown or based on the embarkation country for the service members (such as Bahrain, Kuwait, and Qatar). In 2005, the Defense Theater Accountability System increased the level of detail to include each change in country during a given service member’s deployment. Thus, use of only the Afghanistan and Iraq country codes to identify those who served in these AORs would underestimate the numbers of service members who actually served there from September 11, 2001, through 2010.

Because that distinction is likely to be raised in many discussions on the impact of deployment on service members, veterans, and their families in the years ahead, we sought to explore the data further. Specifically, using the country codes, each deployment location in the file was service-classified as

Suggested Citation:"3 Characteristics of the Deployed." Institute of Medicine. 2013. Returning Home from Iraq and Afghanistan: Assessment of Readjustment Needs of Veterans, Service Members, and Their Families. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13499.
×

• Afghanistan or Iraq.

• Middle East locations designated as eligible for combat-zone pay or benefits (Djibouti, Israel, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Kuwait, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Turkey, Uzbekistan, and Yemen).

• Other known countries or locations (such as Germany and Korea).

• Unknown locations (location data missing).

Based on those codes, it was possible to categorize all those deployed as (1) at least one deployment to Afghanistan or Iraq; (2) at least one Middle East country and all other deployment countries/locations are known; (3) Middle East and/or other countries, with at least one unknown location; (4) only countries other than Afghanistan, Iraq, or the Middle East; and (5) none of the deployment locations are known (all are missing).

The distributions of deployment locations by branch of service are shown in Table 3.15 and described in detail in Chapter 2. Overall, 62% of those deployed in all branches had at least one deployment that included either Afghanistan and/or Iraq. In the Army and in the Marine Corps, 82% and 75%, respectively, had unambiguous deployments to those two countries. In contrast, in the Navy and in the Coast Guard, less than 20% and less than 10% had deployments to those countries. However, even in the Army and Marine Corps, 2–5% had no location coded for their deployments, and 15–17% had deployments to designated Middle East countries, some of which could well have been points of embarkation for Afghanistan or Iraq. Nearly 57% of those deployed in the Navy had no location specified, and over half those in the Coast Guard were deployed to other known countries and locations. Distributions by component show less variation in deployments by location in the regular and two reserve components. When they are examined by branch and component (Table 3.16), the differences described by branch on the average tended to be greater among the regular components (for example, 88% of those in the regular Army were deployed to Afghanistan or Iraq, and 62% of the regular Navy had no location specified).

TABLE 3.15 Distribution of Deployment Location of Deployed Service Members, by Service Branch, as of 2010

Deployment Location Army, N (column %) Navy, N (column %) Air Force, N (column %) Marine Corps, N (column %) Coast Guard, N (column %) TOTAL, N (column %)
Afghanistan or Iraq known 881,444
(81.5)
67,138
(17.5)
179,146
(43.2)
196,295
(75.0)
564
(9.3)
1,324,587
(61.9)
Middle East only or Middle East and other known location 154,407
(14.3)
31,452
(8.2)
72,852
(17.6)
42,604
(16.3)
1,531
(25.2)
302,846
(14.1)
Middle East only or Middle East and other known location and unknown other location 10,936
(1.0)
31,575
(8.2)
31,609
(7.6)
4,534
(1.7)
31,609
(7.6)
78,774
(3.7)
Known other location 8,872
(0.8)
35,220
(9.2)
65,770
(15.9)
4,064
(1.6)
3,282
(53.9)
117,208
(5.5)
Suggested Citation:"3 Characteristics of the Deployed." Institute of Medicine. 2013. Returning Home from Iraq and Afghanistan: Assessment of Readjustment Needs of Veterans, Service Members, and Their Families. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13499.
×
Deployment Location Army, N (column %) Navy, N (column %) Air Force, N (column %) Marine Corps, N (column %) Coast Guard, N (column %) TOTAL, N (column %)
Unknown location 25,528
(2.4)
218,477
(56.9)
65,236
(15.7)
14,155
(5.4)
587
(9.7)
323,983
(15.1)
TOTAL 1,081,187 383,862 414,613 261,652 6,084 2,147,398

SOURCE: Defense Manpower Data Center.

TABLE 3.16 Distribution of Deployment Location of Deployed Service Members, by Component, as of 2010

Deployment Location Regular, N (column %) National Guard, N (column %) Reserves, N (column %) TOTAL, N (column %)
Afghanistan or Iraq known 882,603
(61.4)
254,865
(67.3)
187,119
(56.3)
1,324,587
(61.7)
Middle East only or Middle East and other known location 175,727
(12.2)
56,926
(15.0)
70,175
(21.1)
302,846
(14.1)
Middle East only or Middle East and/or other known location and unknown other location 50,965
(3.6)
13,598
(3.6)
14,211
(4.3)
78,774
(3.7)
Known other location 94,752
(6.6)
9,168
(2.4)
13,286
(4.0)
117,208
(5.5)
Unknown location 232,618
(16.2)
43,948
(11.6)
47,414
(14.3)
323,986
(15.1)
TOTAL 1,436,665 378,805 332,205 2,147,375

NOTE: Entire file contained 2,147,398, but 23 had an unknown component.

SOURCE: Defense Manpower Data Center.

SUMMARY

The chapter describes the basic characteristics of all those deployed in support of OEF and/or OIF between September 11, 2001, and December 31, 2010. Of the 2.15 million who were deployed during that period, over half were in the Army—nearly one-third in the regular Army alone—and those in the National Guard and reserves combined constituted one-third of those deployed. Over 85% of those deployed were enlisted, and 12% were women, including 20% of the junior officers in the Air Force. The average age of those deployed was 33.4 years—from an average of 29.5 years in the Marine Corps to an average of 35.8 years in the Air Force. Those deployed from the reserves and National Guard were older. Over two-thirds had a high-school degree or equivalent, and over 30% had at least some college education. Nearly 60% of those

Suggested Citation:"3 Characteristics of the Deployed." Institute of Medicine. 2013. Returning Home from Iraq and Afghanistan: Assessment of Readjustment Needs of Veterans, Service Members, and Their Families. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13499.
×

deployed were married, and nearly half had dependent children, 1.97 on average. By the end of 2010, the 2.15 million service members had been deployed an average of 1.7 times: 57% once, 27% twice, 10% three times, and 6% four or more times. Those in the National Guard and reserves had fewer multiple deployments than those in the regular component. The average length of deployments was 7.7 months—from an average of 4.5 months in the Air Force to an average of 9.4 months in the Army. The average cumulative length of deployments of multiple deployers was 16.9 months. The average dwell time between deployments was 21 months.

REFERENCE

Bonds, T. M., D. Baiocchi, and L. L. McDonald. 2010. Army Deployments of OIF and OEF. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation.

Suggested Citation:"3 Characteristics of the Deployed." Institute of Medicine. 2013. Returning Home from Iraq and Afghanistan: Assessment of Readjustment Needs of Veterans, Service Members, and Their Families. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13499.
×
Page 31
Suggested Citation:"3 Characteristics of the Deployed." Institute of Medicine. 2013. Returning Home from Iraq and Afghanistan: Assessment of Readjustment Needs of Veterans, Service Members, and Their Families. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13499.
×
Page 32
Suggested Citation:"3 Characteristics of the Deployed." Institute of Medicine. 2013. Returning Home from Iraq and Afghanistan: Assessment of Readjustment Needs of Veterans, Service Members, and Their Families. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13499.
×
Page 33
Suggested Citation:"3 Characteristics of the Deployed." Institute of Medicine. 2013. Returning Home from Iraq and Afghanistan: Assessment of Readjustment Needs of Veterans, Service Members, and Their Families. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13499.
×
Page 34
Suggested Citation:"3 Characteristics of the Deployed." Institute of Medicine. 2013. Returning Home from Iraq and Afghanistan: Assessment of Readjustment Needs of Veterans, Service Members, and Their Families. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13499.
×
Page 35
Suggested Citation:"3 Characteristics of the Deployed." Institute of Medicine. 2013. Returning Home from Iraq and Afghanistan: Assessment of Readjustment Needs of Veterans, Service Members, and Their Families. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13499.
×
Page 36
Suggested Citation:"3 Characteristics of the Deployed." Institute of Medicine. 2013. Returning Home from Iraq and Afghanistan: Assessment of Readjustment Needs of Veterans, Service Members, and Their Families. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13499.
×
Page 37
Suggested Citation:"3 Characteristics of the Deployed." Institute of Medicine. 2013. Returning Home from Iraq and Afghanistan: Assessment of Readjustment Needs of Veterans, Service Members, and Their Families. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13499.
×
Page 38
Suggested Citation:"3 Characteristics of the Deployed." Institute of Medicine. 2013. Returning Home from Iraq and Afghanistan: Assessment of Readjustment Needs of Veterans, Service Members, and Their Families. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13499.
×
Page 39
Suggested Citation:"3 Characteristics of the Deployed." Institute of Medicine. 2013. Returning Home from Iraq and Afghanistan: Assessment of Readjustment Needs of Veterans, Service Members, and Their Families. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13499.
×
Page 40
Suggested Citation:"3 Characteristics of the Deployed." Institute of Medicine. 2013. Returning Home from Iraq and Afghanistan: Assessment of Readjustment Needs of Veterans, Service Members, and Their Families. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13499.
×
Page 41
Suggested Citation:"3 Characteristics of the Deployed." Institute of Medicine. 2013. Returning Home from Iraq and Afghanistan: Assessment of Readjustment Needs of Veterans, Service Members, and Their Families. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13499.
×
Page 42
Suggested Citation:"3 Characteristics of the Deployed." Institute of Medicine. 2013. Returning Home from Iraq and Afghanistan: Assessment of Readjustment Needs of Veterans, Service Members, and Their Families. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13499.
×
Page 43
Suggested Citation:"3 Characteristics of the Deployed." Institute of Medicine. 2013. Returning Home from Iraq and Afghanistan: Assessment of Readjustment Needs of Veterans, Service Members, and Their Families. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13499.
×
Page 44
Suggested Citation:"3 Characteristics of the Deployed." Institute of Medicine. 2013. Returning Home from Iraq and Afghanistan: Assessment of Readjustment Needs of Veterans, Service Members, and Their Families. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13499.
×
Page 45
Suggested Citation:"3 Characteristics of the Deployed." Institute of Medicine. 2013. Returning Home from Iraq and Afghanistan: Assessment of Readjustment Needs of Veterans, Service Members, and Their Families. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13499.
×
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As of December 2012, Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) in Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) in Iraq have resulted in the deployment of about 2.2 million troops; there have been 2,222 US fatalities in OEF and Operation New Dawn (OND)1 and 4,422 in OIF. The numbers of wounded US troops exceed 16,000 in Afghanistan and 32,000 in Iraq. In addition to deaths and morbidity, the operations have unforeseen consequences that are yet to be fully understood.

In contrast with previous conflicts, the all-volunteer military has experienced numerous deployments of individual service members; has seen increased deployments of women, parents of young children, and reserve and National Guard troops; and in some cases has been subject to longer deployments and shorter times at home between deployments. Numerous reports in the popular press have made the public aware of issues that have pointed to the difficulty of military personnel in readjusting after returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Many of those who have served in OEF and OIF readjust with few difficulties, but others have problems in readjusting to home, reconnecting with family members, finding employment, and returning to school.

In response to the return of large numbers of veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan with physical-health and mental-health problems and to the growing readjustment needs of active duty service members, veterans, and their family members, Congress included Section 1661 of the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2008. That section required the secretary of defense, in consultation with the secretary of veterans affairs, to enter into an agreement with the National Academies for a study of the physical-health, mental-health, and other readjustment needs of members and former members of the armed forces who were deployed in OIF or OEF, their families, and their communities as a result of such deployment.

The study consisted of two phases. The Phase 1 task was to conduct a preliminary assessment. The Phase 2 task was to provide a comprehensive assessment of the physical, psychologic, social, and economic effects of deployment on and identification of gaps in care for members and former members, their families, and their communities. The Phase 1 report was completed in March 2010 and delivered to the Department of Defense (DOD), the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and the relevant committees of the House of Representatives and the Senate. The secretaries of DOD and VA responded to the Phase 1 report in September 2010. Returning Home from Iraq and Afghanistan: Assessment of Readjustment Needs of Veterans, Service Members, and Their Families fulfills the requirement for Phase 2.

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