Tour of duty
In the Navy
A navy is the branch of a nation's armed forces principally designated for naval and amphibious warfare; namely, lake- or ocean-borne combat operations and related functions...

, a tour of duty is a period of time spent performing operational duties at sea
A sea generally refers to a large body of salt water, but the term is used in other contexts as well. Most commonly, it means a large expanse of saline water connected with an ocean, and is commonly used as a synonym for ocean...

, including combat, performing patrol or fleet duties, or assigned to service in a foreign country.

For military
A military is an organization authorized by its greater society to use lethal force, usually including use of weapons, in defending its country by combating actual or perceived threats. The military may have additional functions of use to its greater society, such as advancing a political agenda e.g...

 soldiers, a tour of duty is a usually a period of time spent in combat, but can also include patrol duties in times of peace.

For example, in World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 a tour of duty for a RAF
Royal Air Force
The Royal Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Formed on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world...

(Royal Air Force) bomber crew was 30 flights. That number could take up to 12 months.

For the Navy, a tour of duty is part of a rotation, where the ship may spend a six months tour of duty, then spend one month in home port for maintenance, then a period of time on exercises, then return to their tour of duty.

A general tour of duty for soldiers comprises service that can last from half a year to four years. Generally duties that last longer than 2 years are eligible to receive medals of merit related to their service. Tours of duty can also be extended involuntarily for service members, such as in September 2006 when the tour of duty was extended for 4,000 US military personnel in Iraq.
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