The Air Force is extending the length of first-term, unaccompanied tours for airmen and guardians in the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy and Japan from 24 months to 36 months.

The change is designed to give the service member additional time to train with the unit and allow newer troops greater “stability,” the Air Force said.

“During these moves, service members not only have to adjust to their new jobs, but also to a new culture and country, which takes time,” Lt. Gen. Brian Kelly, deputy chief of staff for manpower, personnel and services, said in an Air Force news release on Feb. 11.

“A 24-month tour was not adequate for our new Airmen and Guardians to thrive, nor was it enough time to provide the continuity needed for the unit,” Kelly said. “The change was made to support the mission and to ensure our members receive a longer transitional period.”

The new policy takes effect on March 1 and impacts the following duty stations: RAF Mildenhall, United Kingdom; RAF Lakenheath, U.K.; RAF Alconbury, U.K.; RAF Croughton, U.K.; London, Menwith Hill, U.K.; Fairford, U.K.; Welford, U.K.; Molesworth, U.K.; Aviano Air Base, Italy; Stavenger Air Base, Norway; Ramstein Air Base, Germany; Kaiserslautern, Germany; Sembach, Germany; Vogelweh, Germany; Landstuhl, Germany; Kapaun, Germany; Einsiedlerhof, Germany; Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany; Kadena Air Base, Japan; Misawa Air Base, Japan; and Yokota Air Base, Japan.

The policy applies to both enlisted and officer airmen and guardians serving unaccompanied tours, but will not affect those who are retrainees, crossflows and prior service members who have since become commissioned officers.

Tour lengths overseas for accompanied troops have not changed, and still will be either 36 or 48 months.

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