The US Marine Corps may need to increase in size in order to sustain continued deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan without sacrificing needed training or putting undue stress on the corps, the Marine commandant said Wednesday.
At a breakfast meeting with reporters, Gen. James Conway said the current pace of rotations to Iraq - seven months there and a bit more than seven months back home - is limiting other types of training and could eventually prompt Marines to leave the service.
The goal, he said, is to spend twice the amount of time at home that was spent on deployment - for example seven months deployed and 14 months at home.
Conway, who took on the Marines' top job just eight days ago, said there are two ways to deal with the ongoing stress on the Marines, and that "one is reducing the requirement, the other is potentially growing the force for what we call the long war."
His comments came as the Pentagon and the Bush administration are completing budget needs for the year starting next Oct. 1, in which the armed services hope to get more money for combat requirements. Conway said he could not say how much money, or additional funding, the Marines would be seeking.
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