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Defense Dept. adopts policy to jettison 'non-deployable' troops

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Department of Defense has introduced a new policy that service members who are deemed “non-deployable” for more than 12 months can be booted from the military.

In a move announced Feb. 14, Undersecretary of Defense Robert Wilkie said those service members will be processed for administrative separation or referred to the Disability Evaluation System.

Service members who are pregnant or recently gave birth are exempt from this policy.

DOCUMENT: Read the DoD's policy on non-deployable members

Approximately 286,000 service members, or 13-14 percent of the force, are considered non-deployable, according to figures released by the Pentagon.

Retired Admiral Bob Natter said this policy is key from a training perspective. He said the military spends a lot of time on training before deployment. If someone can't be deployed, it has a ripple effect.

"If they are paying for 100 people and only 85 or so are able to deploy, they are getting shortchanged. Not to mention that the 85 who are able to deploy have to double up to make up for those who can't," said Natter.

He said the change has been a long time coming.

"This is long overdue," he said. "It's a policy change that should have been in effect for the last 20 years."

The policy applies to all branches. It states that services have until Oct. 1 to begin mandatory processing of non-deployable members, but says they may begin processing them out immediately.

While the policy states that a member has to be non-deployable for 12 consecutive months to be separated, the process can begin sooner if they're likely to remain non-deployable for longer than that.