View Full Version : Conway: Corps sticking to 7-month tours

07-10-07, 12:39 PM
Conway: Corps sticking to 7-month tours
By Kimberly Johnson - Staff writer
Posted : Tuesday Jul 10, 2007 11:06:24 EDT

TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. - The Corps is pushing back against pressure from other services to extend combat deployments in Iraq, the commandant told Marine families Monday.

Pressure to extend the already yearlong tours of individual Marine augments in Iraq is mounting in the wake of the Army's recent decision to extend its combat tours from 12 to 15 months, Commandant Gen. James Conway said during a town hall meeting at Camp Pendleton, Calif.

"I'm sorry, we're not going to do that. We are not going to a longer cycle," he said. "We've had some reverse pressure on us to justify seven months when the Army is going to 15."

Over a protracted period, however, the time deployed is about the same, he explained. In the span of 27 months, a soldier will have been deployed 15 months. The 15-month deployment is aimed at ensuring soldiers have 12 months at home, Conway said. Marines, however, are averaging about seven months home between their seven-month deployments, totaling about 14 months deployed out of 28 months, he said. Most Marines at the battalion level and below deploy for seven months, while a small number of leathernecks at the group or regimental level pull yearlong tours.

Conway, who is on a West Coast tour of Marine bases, reiterated that the ongoing increase to the Corps' end strength- which will bring the force up to 202,000 Marines by 2011 - will go a long way toward stretching time between deployments from the current seven months to his goal of 14 months.

The current combat tempo, however, is affecting the Corps' ability to respond to other situations, Conway said later in the day when he met with Marine families at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar.

"There is a 3,500-person requirement for police training in Afghanistan," Conway said. "We've basically put that one on hold saying that is too large. We can't manage that right now with everything else that's going on."

While adding thousands of Marines to the rolls would alleviate pressure long term, the Corps faces the more immediate challenge of recruitment.

"For May and June, the Army did not make their recruiting quotas and that's against last year's numbers. That doesn't include their plus-up of an additional 7,000 or so a year," Conway said. "I'm concerned what that means to us in the long term."