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NAPLES, Italy — The assassination Thursday of Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto is added proof of the lengthy time the U.S. military will be fighting terrorism and extremism, a Marine Corps leader said.

For active members contemplating leaving the services, Gen. Robert Magnus asked of them one thing: Don’t.

“You’re free to do what you want … but please don’t do it in the middle of a war,” the assistant commandant of the Marine Corps said Friday, adding that the military needs current members with experience to “raise” future generations of warfighters.

The Marine Corps alone, for example, plans to expand its active force from the current 186,000 Marines to 202,000 Marines over the next six years, said Lt. Gen. John Castellaw, deputy commandant for aviation.

Magnus and other Marine leaders made a stop in Naples on their way back to the U.S. after visiting troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, Horn of Africa and Germany.

They met Friday with roughly a dozen Marines and sailors serving in Naples, touching on topics such as the status of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, recruitment and retention, and military training.

Magnus’ call to stay on active duty resonated with Petty Officer 3rd Class Stacy Dorris, a hospital corpsman who has served two tours in Iraq with Marines.

“I’d never even think about getting out now,” said the 22-year-old sailor. “It wouldn’t feel right getting out and not helping the Marines.”

Roughly 40 Marines are stationed in Naples — and Marine Sgt. Aiden Klein, 27, said he appreciated Magnus and the others taking time to visit the few serving in Naples.

And he appreciated the general’s candor in keeping the troops updated, he said.

“What he said was highly motivational. It’s not every day you get to sit down with the assistant commandant,” said Klein, an administration chief with Strike Force NATO at Allied Joint Force Command Naples.

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