SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. — Defense officials are urging service members to fully understand the Rest and Recuperation Leave Program, also known as R&R, when deploying to the U.S. Central Command area of operations.
Starting June 1, nine countries in the theater of operations including Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan will not receive imminent danger pay.
Due to a normal IDP recertification process completed in December 2013, service members who deploy on 365-day deployments or PCS to these nine countries after June 1, will no longer be eligible for the R&R program, according to a May 6 DOD letter, “Recertification of certain USCENTCOM land areas as chargeable R&R leave areas.” The letter states those service members whose deployment started prior to June 1, remain eligible for the R&R program
“This recertification has taken place over time as the region has stabilized and countries in the AOR continue to become more and more safe,” said Col. Ron Dougherty, the U.S. Air Forces Central Command director of manpower, personnel and services. “Several of these locations allow accompanied tours; it didn’t quite make sense to have people PCS their families to a location and still receive imminent danger pay.”
There are more than 21,000 Airmen deployed throughout USCENTCOM; however, only a small portion of them, about 500, are affected by this decision.
USCENTCOM officials are working with USAFCENT officials to develop a leave program service members will likely recognize from other parts of the world.
“USCENTCOM, in concert with the service components, is developing options on how to best transition from the current R&R program to an ordinary leave program within these nine countries,” said Army Col. John Bray, the USCENTCOM chief of manpower and augmentation.
“We’re exploring all options for a leave program in AFCENT,” Dougherty said.
For more information, Airmen are encouraged to consult the Air Force Personnel Center website at www.afpc.af.mil, or call AFPC’s Total Force Service Center at (800) 525-0102.