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ARLINGTON, Va. — The Marine Corps hopes to send 1,500 Marines from the Individual Ready Reserve to Iraq, a Corps spokesman said Thursday.

Right now, the Corps is waiting for authorization from Defense Secretary Robert Gates for the call-up, said Maj. Steven O’Connor. Gates is expected to decide on the matter within 30 days, O’Connor said. If Gates authorizes the call-up, the IRR Marines would report for duty in the first half of 2008.

Servicemembers in the IRR have left active duty but still have time on their obligation to serve. Unlike troops in the Select Reserves and National Guard, they do not drill.

The Corps has sent letters to 2,000 Marines in the IRR telling them they will be screened for a possible recall, O’Connor said. Those Marines are in military occupational specialties that include intelligence, combat service support, communications, military police and others, he said.

Not all Marines who are notified get orders to deploy because the Corps looks at a variety of factors to determine if deploying an IRR Marine would be an undue hardship to him or her. IRR Marines also are screened for any physical conditions that may disqualify them from deploying, but being overweight is not one of them.

In March, the Corps told 1,800 IRR Marines they could be deployed in an effort to get 1,200 to Iraq. Two months later, 960 of those IRR Marines ended up getting orders to go to Iraq. Some of those Marines subsequently were unable to deploy; so as of Thursday, about 855 were still headed to Iraq, O’Connor said.

Asked why the Corps wasn’t notifying more IRR Marines in an effort to get 1,500 to Iraq, O’Connor said that only 2,000 IRR Marines met the criteria for the possible call-up.

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