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American Forces Press Service

Marine Corps Exceeds Recruiting, Retention Numbers

By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 4, 2007 – The Marine Corps announced today that it exceeded its recruiting and retention expectations for the year, marking the first milestone in a push to significantly expand the overall force by 2011.

During a background briefing at the Pentagon today, Marine Corps officials told reporters that the Corps’ end strength stands at 186,000 Marines, some 2,000 more than officials expected when fiscal 2007 ended Sept. 30.

“At a time of unprecedented challenges to the all-volunteer force, to achieve such a growth so quickly and without compromising our high standards, it is an enormous credit to our Marines and to the young patriots who continue to step forward to serve,” a Marine Corps official said.

Officials declined to release an official figure but said that the corps exceeded its fiscal 2007 recruiting goal to enlist 35,576 recruits. Thirty-one percent of eligible Marines in their first term re-enlisted during that time, up from 22 percent in 2006. From the career force, 70 percent reenlisted, compared to 65 percent last year.

In one notable two-week period in July, 1,025 Marines re-enlisted while serving in Iraq. This figure more than tripled the amount of re-enlistments that occurred during prior visits by manpower representatives to Marines deployed in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

“The numbers tell us that we are offering the right mix of incentives to reach our retention goals,” the official said. “While money and duty-station incentives help, the most important reason cited by re-enlisting Marines is the sense that they’re making a difference.

“Marines are proud of what they’re doing for their corps and their country,” he added.

The year’s figures are encouraging, the official said, but the corps is focused on its goal to increase end strength to 202,000 Marines by the year 2011. “While reaching the initial goal is gratifying, our eye is on the final objective: a properly sized, balanced and resourced Marine Corps capable of sustaining operations across the spectrum of conflict,” the official said.

Greater numbers of Marines will relieve strains on those serving extended or repeated deployments. An increased force size also will allow the corps to create additional units to participate in a “long war” that extends beyond Iraq’s and Afghanistan’s borders, the official said.

“While additional personnel will have a positive effect on relieving the strain of our Marines and families,” the official said, “a larger Marine Corps is vital if we are to both sustain current operations and remain fully prepared to respond to future challenges.”

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