When Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced last month that he was extending the tours of duty for all U.S. Army units in Iraq and Afghanistan, he tried to spin it as some kind of favor for the troops.
Gates explained: "This goes a long way toward making sure that we will have the proper amount of time to train them, that they will have time with their families, that they will have a predictable life, that they can sit there around the dinner table and know that on calendar month so and so, Daddy's going to leave, and on calendar month so and so Mommy's going to come home, and those kinds of things which add to quality of life."
Now the Pentagon is informing more than 35,000 soldiers that they need to be ready to deploy to Iraq this fall. And you know what? It turns out that this is a favor for the troops, too.
Asked today whether the deployment notices had anything to do with extending the "surge" in Iraq, White House press secretary Tony Snow said: "No, it actually has -- no, it has nothing to do with the surge, actually ... This is designed merely to give people the kind of predictability they need in terms of when the deployments are going to take place and also when they're going to be rotated out."