January 9, 2003
75,000 Marines might be needed in Persian Gulf
By OTTO KREISHER
COPLEY NEWS SERVICE
WASHINGTON – A war with Iraq probably would involve
55,000 to 75,000 Marines, primarily from the 1st Marine
Expeditionary Force at Camp Pendleton, Marine Gen. James L.
Jones said yesterday.
Jones, the outgoing Marine Corps commandant, said the Corps'
contribution to a second conflict with Iraq would be similar to
Desert Storm, in which the California and Arizona-based units
were augmented by the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force, based
in North and South Carolina.
More than 95,000 Marines were deployed to the Pe rsian Gulf in
Much of the 1st MEF's headquarters staff already is in the Persian
Gulf for an exercise to test the command and communications
capabilities of the U.S. Central Command, which is responsible
for the region.
The 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit from Camp Pendleton
deployed Monday for the Gulf aboard three San Diego-based
amphibious assault ships, the Tarawa, Duluth and Rushmore.
Additional Marine units are expected to deploy to the region
Jones, responding to questions at the National Press Club here,
said the Marines were trained and prepared for urban warfare, if
they had to fight their way into Baghdad.
But, he noted, "there are good reasons why armies have stopped
at the outskirts of great cities." Urban combat, he said, is "very
dangerous, very hard."
Asked about the effort by some members of Congress to restore
the draft, Jones said more young Americans should do some
form of public service and that the military should include
people from all aspects of American society.
However, he said he "would have to be persuaded" that a return
to the draft would accomplish that "without doing great damage
to the quality of the all-volunteer force."
The military draft was abolished in 1973 because of complaints
that young men from poor and minority families bore an unfair
share of the burden of the Vietnam War.
Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., is using the same argument to urge
a return to the draft.