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thedrifter
04-06-06, 07:25 PM
No Formal Order for Marines, Body Armor
By LOLITA C. BALDOR, Associated Press Writer

The U.S. Marine Corps is not planning to prohibit Marines from wearing commercial body armor, but troops headed to war will be expected to wear military-issued gear.

Gen. Robert Magnus, assistant commandant of the Marine Corps, said Thursday that while companies are trying to market lighter or better armor to troops and their families, Marines are already receiving the "most modern body armor that has been approved for wear."

He added, "We're probably not going to come out with an enforceable policy that prevents Mom from sending her son a pair of ballistic goggles. ... Prohibiting them from going out and getting something they don't need is probably something we don't need to do."

While there is no specific order, the Marine Corps said Marines will be expected to wear the armor they are issued.

The Army last week announced that soldiers cannot wear any commercially bought body armor. The order, said Army Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Sorenson, was prompted by concerns that soldiers or their families were buying inadequate or untested gear from private companies.

In other comments, Magnus said he'd like to see the Marine Corps continue to be funded for 180,000 troops, not reduced back to the 175,000 level proposed in a recent Defense Department planning document. The extra 5,000 or so Marines are currently being funded through emergency supplemental legislation, and he said to drop back to 175,000 would reduce either the number of units or the capabilities of the Corps.

About 25,000 Marines are in Iraq and the Corps can sustain that level indefinitely, he said.

"We're doing this about as well as anybody could have imagined.... We're still concerned about making sure that we don't break the Marines and their families and we don't break the readiness of the Corps," said Magnus.

He added that he doesn't think the Iraq war will be continuous, but "if we need to have 20,000 Marines in Iraq for the next 'x' number of months, they'll be there.... If there is another major war that pops up in the middle of this, it will take a bit longer to get them there, but they'll be there."

Overall there are 132,000 U.S. troops in Iraq. In Afghanistan, there are about 1,100 Marines and a total of 23,000 U.S. troops there overall.

On the Net:

Marine Corps: www.usmc.mil/

Defense Department: www.defenselink.mil

Ellie