SOUTH BEND -

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg announced Thursday that he will spend half of next year on active military duty in Afghanistan, where he will serve as an intelligence officer involved in Operation Enduring Freedom.

He also will announce that, in his absence, city Controller Mark Neal will serve as deputy mayor in charge of the city.

The mayor will serve from February 28 to September 30, 2014.

"My primary responsibility and focus every day is to lead South Bend forward," Buttigieg said. "At the same time, as a military officer I have made a commitment to our country, and my orders require me to keep that promise by going to Afghanistan next year."

Buttigieg, 31, was commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve in 2009 and holds the rank of Lieutenant Junior Grade.

Under Indiana law (Indiana Code section 5-6-2), a mayor who is called into active military duty is not considered to have vacated his office, and is authorized to designate a deputy mayor to serve in his place during a service-related absence.

Accordingly, Buttigieg will activate a section of South Bend’s municipal code that establishes the position of Deputy Mayor, and will work with members of the Common Council to incorporate the position into the current 2014 budget. To prevent additional costs to taxpayers, Buttigieg will not accept his City salary during the period of his deployment.

Buttigieg, 31, was commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve in 2009 and holds the rank of Lieutenant Junior Grade. Like most members of the Reserve and National Guard, he spends one weekend a month training or drilling. Each year, he also performs a two-week tour of duty known as Annual Training.