USAFE Task Force assesses feasibility of return to standard OCONUS tours at Incirlik

  • Published
  • By Capt. Kaitlin Cashin
  • 39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
Incirlik AB hosted a U.S. Air Forces in Europe – Air Forces Africa project task force team Aug. 15-17, to assess the feasibility of Incirlik AB returning to standard OCONUS tours in Türkiye.

Heidi Schwingle, USAFE task force lead, oversaw the facilitated assessment. She said, “Our purpose is to gather the information and present possible courses of action to USAFE leadership as it pertains to standard accompanied tour options.”

The collection of experts from the staff to include representatives from personnel, manpower, civil engineering, communications, housing, security, and education met with counterparts at Incirlik to gather data points for an assessment that will be made later this fall.

Lt Col. Charles Setzer, 39 Mission Support Group Deputy Commander and project officer for the visit, said, “There will be many moving parts and considerations to solve this challenge. Questions such as which positions will be prioritized for standard tours, supporting early families who are willing to homeschool, or what scale of dependents will require additional supporting programs and resources.”

According to Setzer, a deliberately phased approach will be necessary in order to make the change.

“We are not considering a full scale, unconditional return of dependents immediately,” he said. “It will take a phased approach based on the [courses of action] we are presented.”

At the PROTAF opening meeting, Col. Kevin Lord, 39th Air Base Wing Commander, said, “We want to make sure we are working together to reach this milestone in returning to standard OCONUS tours for our Airmen.”

Prior to 2016, tours to Incirlik had been standard tours, or two-year assignments.

This changed Sep. 29, 2016, when a Secretary of Defense policy announced assignments to Türkiye would be designated as an unaccompanied 12-month tours due to concerns in the security environment. According to local and international security experts, the threats which inspired standing short tour policy no longer exist.
While the task force from USAFE considers feasibility of unconditional return of dependents, security conditions at Incirlik AB, Izmir, and Ankara support a return of standard OCONUS tours today.

The 39 ABW leadership is aware of this and are taking a concerted effort to revise base operations, to include tour lengths in accordance with today’s reality.

“The reinstatement of standard tours and rescinding of DoD policy will give our team the flexibility to designate key positions on base for continuity,” Lord said. “Our surety mission is something we take seriously, and our team is advocating for return to standard OCONUS tours as a means to improve proficiency and continuity. Once policy allows, our team at the 39th ABW plans to support standard length tours for key personnel, accompanied or not, as soon as possible.”

The final report on the PROTAF assessment is expected this winter.

For more information on tour length history and accompanied tours to Türkiye, continue to follow news at

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