ARLINGTON, Va. — Marines who have yet to deploy could be reassigned in order to be deployed downrange after just 12 months at an assigned station, a Marine message says.

The move would make it easier for those Marines to volunteer to go downrange, as well as for the Corps to deploy Marines where they are needed, said Corps spokesman Lt. Col. T.V. Johnson.

The change is part of Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Conway’s plan to get every Marine into combat to relieve the stress on Marines who have been deployed several times.

In late December, Conway told Marines at Ramadi, Iraq, that about 66,000 Marines have not yet deployed to combat, of whom only about half are getting ready to deploy.

“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.”

Now the Corps will issue waivers on a case-by-case basis for Marines who have been on station for at least 12 months in order to increase the number of Marines eligible to deploy, according to MARADMIN 115/07.

And Marines who are nondeployable because their time in service is running out and still want to deploy are still being encouraged to re-enlist or request to be extended in order to deploy, the MARADMIN says.

Also in this MARADMIN, Marines could start going to Okinawa on shorter tours in order to accomplish the same goal — get more Marines into combat.

The Corps could start issuing 12-month unaccompanied tours to III Marine Expeditionary Force, down from the current 24-month tours unaccompanied, the MARADMIN says.

Marines from III MEF on shorter tours would not be deployed unless their billets could be backfilled in order to protect unit cohesion, the MARADMIN says.

Corps officials from Manpower and Reserve Affairs at the Marine Corps Base Quantico in Virginia could not be reached for comment by deadline Tuesday.

In 2004, the Corps announced it was making two-year tours to Japan standard for single Marines and it planned to phase out one-year tours over the next five years.

But last month, Conway announced that III MEF’s assignment policy should be modified “as required” to get more Marines into combat.

A subsequent story on the Marine Corps News site said that officials at III MEF were awaiting guidance from Manpower and Reserve Affairs on how the policy should be changed to get more Marines downrange.

Earlier this month, officials at Manpower and Reserve Affairs deferred comment on the story to III MEF.

Officials at Manpower and Reserve Affairs could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

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