- The Washington Times - Friday, January 10, 2003

The Marine Corps has taken the unusual step of stopping all soldiers from leaving the service for the coming 12 months, as it prepares for war against Iraq, officials said yesterday.
The decision was announced to all Marines in an internal message Tuesday from Gen. James Jones, the Marine Corps commandant. He said it applies to active-duty as well as reserve Marines and is effective Jan. 15 through Jan. 31, 2004.
The last time the Marines took this action, known as "stop-loss," was during the buildup to the 1991 Persian Gulf war, said Capt. Gabrielle Chapin, a spokeswoman at the Combat Development Command at Quantico, Va.
Although the order applies to the entire Marine Corps, which has 173,000 men and women on active duty and 100,000 in the reserves, some exceptions can be made, including for those who already have a retirement date of April 1 or earlier. Commanders also can consider exceptions for personal hardship and other circumstances.
Separately, 125 Marine Corps reservists with Company A, 8th Tank Battalion, based at Fort Knox, Ky., were reporting for active duty yesterday. Sgt. Maj. Timothy J. Didas of the 8th Tank Battalion said that the reservists are to report to the 2nd Marine Division at Camp Lejeune, N.C., tomorrow.
Another 20 reservists in support positions with the 8th Tank Battalion, including cooks, radio operators and motor vehicle repairmen are being mobilized from bases in New York, Kentucky, South Carolina and Florida along with Company A, Sgt. Maj. Didas said.
Sgt. Maj. Didas said he had no information on whether the reservists were going to deploy to the Persian Gulf area. During the buildup to the 1991 Gulf war the entire 8th Tank Battalion was activated and deployed to the Gulf.
Last fall the Army issued stop-loss orders for nearly all its Special Forces soldiers, who are heavily engaged in the war in Afghanistan, although the action did not apply to the rest of the force. The Marines are the only ones to apply a stop-loss action to all service members.
In addition to the approximately 1,000 Marines from the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force who recently arrived in Kuwait in anticipation of a potential war against Iraq, thousands more are either heading to the Gulf region from U.S. bases or preparing to do so in coming weeks.
Specific figures are classified, but Gen. Jones said Wednesday in remarks at the National Press Club that if there is a war in Iraq, the Marines likely would contribute between 65,000 and 75,000 troops mostly from the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Pendleton, Calif.
The Pentagon's Iraq war plan calls for the use of up to 250,000 troops from all services.

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