1,200 from 31st MEU extended on Okinawa
ARLINGTON, Va. — The Marine Corps has extended about 1,200 Marines and sailors temporarily attached to the Okinawa-based 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, Corps officials said Thursday.
The Marines and sailors will stay in the Pacific to give other Marine units the time they need in the United States to train for Iraq.
The affected troops had been expected to return home in August but now will be extended five months, until January, officials said.
The following units have been extended:
2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, based in Camp Pendleton, Calif.Battery E, 2nd Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, based in Camp Pendleton.2nd Platoon, Company C, 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, from Twentynine Palms, Calif.4th Platoon, Company A, 3rd Amphibious Assault Battalion, from Camp Pendleton.Marine Attack Squadron 214, based in Yuma, Ariz.Detachment, Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 462, from Miramar, Calif.Detachment, Marine Light Attack Squadron 267, from Camp Pendleton.By keeping these Marines in the Pacific longer, other Marines who had been slated to replace them will now have the requisite time they need to train for Iraq and will not have to break dwell time, or the time servicemembers spend at their home bases between combat tours, Corps officials said.
Currently, Marine units spend seven months in combat and seven months at home, but Corps Commandant Gen. James Conway has said he wants to expand the Corps to give Marines 14 months off between tours.
The extension is separate from the Corps’ ongoing review of whether Marines should be permanently stationed on Okinawa in one-year unaccompanied tours, Corps officials said.
Extending the Marines for five months essentially skips a rotation to Okinawa, said Capt. Burrell Parmer, a spokesman for the 31st MEU.
Parmer said he did not know if the Marines will get any bonuses or other form of compensation for being extended.
The extended Marines, who are now training in South Korea, were informed a few days ago that their stay in the Pacific would be longer than expected, he said.
Parmer called the extension a “morale booster,” saying when Marines anywhere get extended, they get excited.