Most of my adult life was spent as a soldier in special operations. One of the most persistent issues throughout my career was finding the right balance of deployment tempo (DEPTEMPO) with time in garrison to train and to be home.
It wasn’t always balanced. A big part of this problem is that special operations forces (SOF) are comprised of people that want to run hard. After all, this is one of the reasons they are selected. When someone joins special operations, they do not do so hoping to have time to coach their kid’s little league team or to get a PhD. These are people that want to see more action than what the conventional military offers. This is not a slight on the conventional forces—it’s just that special operations units are taking on different missions with historically high DEPTEMPOs. This was true even before September 11th. Afterwards, the DEPTEMPO got even worse, but that is to be expected in war. Over time, U.S. Special Operations Command has been able ensure units get some relief, but the operational environment dictates that SOF (Special Operations Forces) carry a heavier load.