Airmen will no longer be able to deploy to Turkey with their families, and the length of unaccompanied tours is also being reduced, the Air Force said Thursday.
Unrest in the troubled NATO ally prompted the Air Force to eliminate all 24-month accompanied tours, and to reduce unaccompanied tours from 15 months to 12 months, according to a release from the Air Force Personnel Center.
The change applies to all airmen who were due to arrive in Turkey after Sept. 21, AFPC said. Airmen who are currently serving 15-month unaccompanied tours will continue serving as normal, as long as their tours do not extend past Aug. 31, 2017.
The Defense Department ordered all military dependents to leave the country in late March due to security concerns.
Turkey has faced increasing turbulence in recent years, including terrorist attacks and a coup attempt in July in which factions of the military unsuccessfully attempted to oust Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Incirlik Air Base, which is central to the Air Force’s effort to fight the Islamic State militant group in neighboring Syria and Iraq, is located in Turkey.
The Air Force said the tour reductions were made based on “the region’s current security environment,” as well as consultations with the State Department and the Turkish government.
The Air Force has also eliminated a 24 month tour option for civilians in favor of a 12-month unaccompanied tour. Civilians now serving a 24-month tour will automatically be reduced to a 12-month tour, unless the U.S. Air Forces in Europe commander approves an extension.
AFPC said airmen who are affected should contact their base personnel sections to make sure their orders are accurate and updated.
William Houston of AFPC’s assignments programs and procedures branch said the agency will work one-on-one with airmen who are facing hardships because of the change.
“They’ll be allowed to request a home-base or follow-on assignment and we’ll work with them individually to help them with this change,” Houston said. “Cancellation requests will be considered, but that will be case-by-case and depend on mission impact, reporting dates, a possible hardship situation and other factors.”
The unpredictability of transportation into Turkey is also complicating matters. AFPC said household good shipments to Incirlik are now limited to 10 percent of the full Joint Travel Regulation requirement, and shipment of pets — except for service and special-needs animals — is no longer authorized at all. Airmen also cannot move automobiles during a permanent change of station move to Turkey.
The changes do not affect military or civilian personnel assigned to the U.S. embassy in Turkey, or to Security Cooperation Organizations duty.