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Oklahoma soldiers in Iraq could get time off while in Iraq

Oklahoma City_Hundreds of Oklahoma Army National Guard troops serving in Iraq likely will get time off, even though they don't qualify for leave.

Col. Van Kinchen, the rear detachment commander for the 45th Infantry Brigade, says Army rules dictate that a soldier must be in a theater of operation for 270 days before being eligible for leave.

The approximately 2,600 Oklahoma Guard troops were sent to Iraq on Jan. 20 and their deployment will end before reaching 270 days. They are scheduled to return home sometime in October.

Kinchen says despite the Army policy, it's likely that about half of the Oklahoma soldiers could receive a two-week leave during the middle of their tour, depending on what their jobs and location are in Iraq.

He says those who are performing key duties in unstable areas of Iraq probably won't qualify, although the final decision about the leave process will be up to commanders in Iraq.

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