Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has approved an unannounced US Marine Corps plan to recall to active duty and send back to Iraq at least some Marine Reserve combat battalions that have already served one tour there, officials said Wednesday.
This would be the first time that reserve combat battalions, units of several hundred troops each, would be sent to Iraq for a second tour, although other types of reserve units and many active-duty units have done multiple tours.
The Army, which is organized differently than the Marine Corps, has not sent any of its National Guard combat brigades back to Iraq for a second tour, although it is considering making more use of the Guard.
The return of Marine Reserve combat battalions to Iraq would begin in 2008, according to a senior Marine officer who discussed the subject on condition that he not be identified because of its sensitive nature. Thus the first picked to go back probably would be remobilized next year in order to train for the mission.