Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters the change in reserve policy would have been made anyway because active-duty troops already were getting too little time between their combat tours.Sure.
Previously, reservists could only serve 24 cumulative months on active duty, whether it was all done in one stretch or over the course of a couple years. Now, there's no limit on cumulative time served. They can still only be mobilized in 24-month increments at most at a time, but they can now do multiple tours. This is how they are going to staff the "surge."
As RayCeeYa has explained in comments: "My brother just got into Baghdad about two months ago. He is supposed to be doing a 16 month tour of duty there. It this 'surge' goes through then he will be staying there for as much as 24 months… They are going to pick the next 20,000 troops about to end their tour of duty and extend their tour by four months. Then they are going to find the troops who are going to rotate back four months from now and extend their tours by four months. This cycle continues as long as we are 'surging'."
It's interesting that Pace is talking about this new policy as though it's being implemented to help avoid burn-out, when, in the long run, we're going to have a lot of extremely stressed soldiers.