WASHINGTON (AP) _ Thousands of National Guard and Army Reserve forces are in for a longer stay in Iraq.

The Army is reportedly extending their tours of duty in Iraq and surrounding countries to a year, months longer than many troops had anticipated.

Most troops have been called up for a year of total service, which includes weeks of training in the U.S. before deployment and debriefings after they return home.

The Washington Post reports the new policy was issued Friday without a formal announcement. It means many Guard and Army Reserve troops could have their original year-long mobilizations extended by up to six months.

Army officials say it's necessary to keep a large number of Guard and Reserve troops in Iraq longer because of security concerns and the scarcity of active-duty forces.