Marines serving first tours in Japan who have not served in Iraq or Afghanistan may find their two-year deployment cut short, according to a new Marine Corps policy.

Enlisted Marines scheduled for 24-month assignments on Okinawa or mainland Japan will have their tours re-evaluated after a year and could be transferred six months early, according to the policy, which takes effect May 1.

Only first-time unaccompanied Marines without dependents will be considered for the shorter, 18-month tours, 2nd Lt. Scott Sasser, spokesman for the III Marine Expeditionary Force, said in an e-mail response to Stars and Stripes on Friday.

The service’s Manpower and Reserve Affairs may "curtail Marines at the 18-month mark if they are not deployed or stabilized for an upcoming deployment," he said.

Marines scheduled for 36-month tours on Okinawa or mainland Japan will not be affected by the changes, Marine officials said.

The new policy, released Tuesday, is meant to identify Marines who could potentially go an entire four-year enlistment without deploying, the Marine Corps said earlier this week.

"The commandant wants to get every Marine into the fight," said Maj. David E. Nevers, Marine Corps spokesmen at the Pentagon.

Nevers said Marines assigned to Japan could go through training and early service and then serve out their final two years in Japan, never seeing service downrange.

Also, he said, the end of a tour may come too close to the end of obligated service to deploy a Marine under the current system.

Stars and Stripes reporters Travis Tritten and Kevin Baron contributed to this report.

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