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WASHINGTON — U.S. servicemembers in Iraq need more training — especially cultural training — to deal with a globally funded and highly sophisticated insurgency, the Marine Corps commandant told lawmakers Thursday.

The comments came as Navy and Marine officials outlined to Congress their 2006 budget requests, which includes more funding for troops’ training and almost doubles bonuses for individuals with language skills. Those start at $100 a month for active duty personnel.

Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Michael Hagee said little has changed in the combat tactics and physical demands of fighting insurgents over the years. But to more effectively anticipate their movements and plans, a new emphasis must be placed on understanding their motives and background.

“[The insurgents] today are globalized. They are able to coordinate worldwide, able to communicate worldwide and raise money worldwide,” he said. “That’s significantly different than in the interwar period between World War I and World War II.”

Over the last five years, the Army and Navy have placed a greater emphasis on education, both before and after troops enter the service.

Hagee said about 97 percent of Marines are high school graduates, and new efforts are under way to provide them with more continuing education opportunities, both at home and while deployed.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Vern Clark reiterated plans to recruit higher-educated sailors because of the ever increasing complexity of the Navy’s systems.

“I’ve told our people we’re not competing against the Marines or the Army or the Air Force for people. We’re actually competing against Fortune 500 companies that want the same kind of people we want,” he said. “We’ve told our people, ‘If you’re going to get promoted, you’re going to have to have degrees.’”

Gordon England, secretary of the Navy, admitted the service “probably started too late” in emphasizing the importance of education in its servicemembers, but he is pleased with recent efforts to change that attitude.

The Navy’s proposed $125.6 billion budget, up $6.4 billion from last year, also includes proposals to reduce the carrier fleet from 12 to 11 ships and reduce submarine production next year from two to one.


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