New mothers who have given birth on or after March 6 will not have to deploy for a full year under new Air Force rules.

The Post-Pregnancy Deployment Deferment is being expanded from the previous six months. Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James announced the expansion of the deployment from the previous six months in a March 4 address outlining several initiatives to increase the service's diversity.

James said she wanted to alleviate the strain on "some of our talented airmen [who choose] to leave the Air Force as they struggle to balance deployments and family issues, and this is especially true soon after childbirth."

Additional details on the expanded deferment are expected to be released in a guidance memorandum in the next few weeks, the Air Force said.

In a June 17 memo, Maj. Gen. Roosevelt Allen, director of medical operations and research in the Air Force's Office of the Surgeon General, said that medical treatment facilities will reissue pregnancy profiles affected by the new policy.

But the longer dwell time is not a requirement. New mothers have the option of waiving the deferment if they choose.

In a May 29 memo, personnel chief Lt. Gen. Samuel Cox said that after a review, the Air Force concluded "the overall impact on manning and deployment levels ... resulting from the increased deferment time will be negligible. ... This should allow minimal disruption to mission planning/training for deployments and/or assignments and allow units to more seamlessly execute."