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THE CONFLICT IN IRAQ

Marine Reserves May Return to Iraq

October 19, 2006|From the Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The Marine Corps plans to send back to Iraq at least some reserve combat battalions that have already served one tour there, officials said Wednesday.

The plan to remobilize those forces is intended to relieve some of the growing strain on active-duty Marines. It would be the first time such units were returned to the war.

A Marine Corps spokesman, Lt. Col. Scott Fazekas, said Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld gave the Marines the go-ahead to conduct detailed planning on how the battalions would be reactivated.

The Marine Corps and Army have sent reserve support units and active-duty forces to Iraq multiple times.

The Army 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 spoke on condition that he not be identified because no official announcement had been made. Thus, the first picked to go back probably would be remobilized next year to train for the mission.

The plan, put forward by Gen. Michael W. Hagee, the Marine commandant, could be modified as the situation in Iraq changes, officials said.

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