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ARLINGON, Va. — The Marine Corps wants troops who haven’t been to combat yet to help ease the burden of Marines who have deployed several times.

In a Corps-wide message released Friday, Commandant Gen. James Conway said he wants officials to ensure “all Marines, first-termers and career Marines alike, are provided the ability to deploy to a combat zone.”

Recently, Conway told Marines in Ramadi that about 66,000 Marines in the Corps have yet to see combat.

“Let’s get everybody to the fight,” he said. “That’s what they joined the Marine Corps for, OK? And I don’t think it’s that those people don’t want to go; I think it’s by and large that they’re being told they can’t.”

The “every Marine into the fight” message calls for commanders to identify all Marines who have not yet deployed and work toward reassigning them to units headed downrange, provided those moves do not hurt exisitng “unit cohesion.”

It also calls for a review of current personnel policies, to ensure maximum flexibility in Marines’ assignments.

Conway has said he wants to give Marines two months off for every one month deployed, and that could require increasing the size of the Corps. Defense officials announced Friday plans to add 3,000 Marines to the Corps’ active-duty end strength by October and another 18,000 over the next five years.

To help increase the ranks, the Corps has lifted quotas on how many Marines approaching their first re-enlistment can continue with the Corps, said Maj. Jerry R. Morgan, of Manpower and Reserve Affairs.

Each Military Occupational Specialty has a number of “boat spaces,” or the number of first-term Marines it is allocated. Once the boat spaces fill up, first-term Marines must move to another MOS or leave the Corps.

The elimination of boat spaces affects 14,000 first-term Marines who are approaching their first re-enlistment this fiscal year, Morgan said.

The move is temporary until “the manpower requirement is further specified,” he said.

Guard, reserves would see more deployment under new rules

ARLINGTON, Va. — The Defense Department will rely more on National Guard and Reserve troops to help give active-duty servicemembers more time between deployments, defense officials said Friday.

“Today, most active units are deploying for one year, returning home for one year, then redeploying,” according to a memo signed Friday by Defense Secretary Robert Gates. “Just as we are asking the active forces to do more in this time of national need, so we must ask more of our Reserve components.”

Toward that end, troops in the Guard and Reserves can now expect to deploy more than once during their careers, according to Dr. David Chu, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness.

In a press briefing with reporters on Friday, Chu announced troops in the Guard and Reserves will be mobilized for a total of 12 continuous months, compared with 18 months or longer now.

The change will require maintaining Reserve component units at a higher level of readiness before they deploy, said Army Lt. Gen. Stephen Speakes. That way, units will not have to train for six months before heading downrange.

“The Army is going to work collectively with the Reserve, the Army Guard and the Army Reserve, to ensure that what we do in the pre-mobilization training period achieves a higher level of proficiency,” Speakes said.

Chu noted that Reserve component troops typically train about 39 days per year, and the Defense Department will work to make sure they use those days more effectively.

“The Army is not going to send a unit into a combat zone or into any kind of a deployment without meeting requirements for both individual and unit certification,” Speakes said.

The Defense Department plans to increase the size of the Army and Marine Corps by a total of 61,000 troops over the next five years, officials said.

-- Jeff Schogol

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