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General Conway Remarks on War Support

Via Corporal Seamus, the US Marince Corps Commandant, General James Conway, made some interesting remarks last week - very appropriate and very interesting:

MARINE CORPS COMMANDANT URGES PRESIDENT TO 'RALLY' U.S. TO WAR

Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Conway is urging the White House to "rally the country to war," arguing it could help address the challenge of recruiting 92,000 additional troops to boost the size of the Marines and the Army.

He made the remarks Jan. 22 to a room full of Marine Corps veterans at a luncheon sponsored by the Marine Corps Association in Alexandria, VA.

"We have, frankly, talked with the president some about maybe changing his message," Conway said. "You know, after 9/11 he said the best thing you can do, America, is live your lives normal. . . . And we think today that it may be time to rally the country to war."

Rallying the country might help the Army and the Marine Corps meet the challenge of recruiting 92,000 troops over the next four or five years, he argued. Earlier this month, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the Pentagon wants to add 65,000 soldiers and 27,000 Marines over several years.

In the near term, the Bush administration also wants to increase the number of troops in Iraq by 21,500, a "surge" proposal that has been criticized by many Democrats and some Republicans in Congress.

"It's our belief inside of the Department of Defense that the DOD is at war but not a lot of the rest of America is, and that includes the interagency but also our people to some degree," Conway said. Conway attacked news coverage of the violence in Iraq and Afghanistan. "We believe that our people are subject to some misinformation -- not intentional perhaps, but nevertheless if you talk to any troop that's been to Iraq   or Afghanistan, they will paint you a significantly different picture, I think, from what's being captured here day in and day out, in the news," he said...

...Conway said he saw improvements during his visit to Iraq last month. "Things in the al Anbar province of Iraq, right now, are better than I think they've been at any time in the past," he said, noting that al Qaim, once considered wild, is now a model for the rest of the province.

In the United States, public support for U.S. troops is high, even among those who disagree with the Bush administration's policies, he said. But he also expressed concern that the public is not on the same page as the Pentagon when it comes to future military deployments.

Fighting an insurgency is "traditionally a decade-long effort, on average," he said. "But we think that the time it's going to take us to do the job doesn't match up with the amount of time our people are willing to give us to do the   job. And that's problematic. That's a concern."

Conway said "the casualty issue" is "driving the thinking of our country." But he argued the United States has "lost perspective" when considering the number of deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan. "I have gone to way too many memorial services and written too many letters to families to dismiss this lightly," he said. But he said U.S. forces are losing "on average about two soldiers, or Marines, maybe sailors, a day," compared to 302 casualties a day during World War II. "We've lost just over 3,000 now, in the entirety of the war," he said. "Since we invaded Iraq we've lost 43,000 young men of military age on the highway of this country. . . . That does not transmit to our country. I've got to tell you, it just doesn't stick."

Conway added, "My view is, if it's important to the country, we should be able to sustain whatever it  takes."

He gave his take on the insurgency.

"I'll tell you, these people have a plan," Conway said. "And the plan is to boot us out of the Middle East, destroy Israel, take charge of the oil supply and then strangle us to the point where we'll have no choice but to go back in."

Conway said the plan to expand his service by 27,000 Marines is "good news," but added the "bad news" is those troops must be recruited.

"We're not going to do it all at once. We're going to do it at 5,000 or so a year," he said. The Marine Corps may need to loosen its recruiting standards a bit to avoid missing recruiting goals as it grows, he said. Conway said adding 27,000 Marines would not lead to the creation of five or six more regiments, as some Pentagon "bean counters" initially thought. "In terms of trigger pullers, that's really three additional battalions," he said, "because we're in pretty good shape in terms of the coin of the realm, and that is infantry battalions."

The Marine Corps must build up additional numbers of combat support and service support personnel, he said, and most of the 27,000 new Marines will be devoted to those areas. He said 75 percent of the 27,000 will go to the operating forces.

Conway also said he wants every Marine in the existing force to get combat experience. He said he issued a directive Jan. 19 to implement this goal, which will affect about 35,000 Marines that have not seen combat. "I just think we need to give every Marine that opportunity," he said.

I love this guy.  Here's his message to all Marines (67% of all Marines have been in combat zones - this is directed at the other 33%).  He wants every Marine the opportunity to serve in Iraq or Afghanistan...

    191555Z JAN 07
    FM CMC WASHINGTON DC(UC)
    TO AL ALMAR(UC)
    UNCLASSIFIED//
    ALMAR 002/07
    MSGID/GENADMIN/CMC WASHINGTON DC//
    SUBJ/EVERY MARINE INTO THE FIGHT COMMANDANTS INTENT//
    GENTEXT/REMARKS/1.PURPOSE TO PROVIDE DEPLOYMENT AND
    ASSIGNMENTGUIDANCE IN SUPPORT OF CURRENT COMBAT OPERATIONS.
    2.BACKGROUND/INTENT A.THE MARINE CORPS REMAINS ACTIVELY
    ENGAGED IN COMBAT OPERATIONS IN THE CENTRAL COMMAND AREA OF
    RESPONSIBILITY. MARINES, BY THEIR PERFORMANCE IN IRAQ
    ANDAFGHANISTAN, HAVE ADDED NOTABLY TO THE LEGACY OF OUR
    COLORS. FREQUENT DEPLOYMENTS AND SHORT DWELL PERIODS HAVE
    BEEN THE NORM, YET OUR MARINES HAVE RESPONDED MAGNIFICENTLY
    WITH UNWAVERING DETERMINATION AND COMMITMENT TO WIN THE LONG
    WAR FROM THE VERY OUTSET.  WHEN THEY JOIN OUR CORPS MARINES
    EXPECT TO TRAIN, DEPLOY AND FIGHT. THATS WHO WE ARE; THATS
    WHAT WE DO; AND WE MUST ALLOW EVERY MARINE THAT OPPORTUNITY.
    B.AS OUR CORPS POSTURES FOR THE LONG WAR, AND IN ORDER TO
    HELP MEET THE CHALLENGES OF FREQUENT DEPLOYMENTS, I WANT OUR
    CORPS LEADERSHIP TO INITIATE POLICIES TO ENSURE ALL MARINES,
    FIRST TERMERS AND CAREER MARINES ALIKE, ARE PROVIDED THE
    ABILITY TO DEPLOY TO A COMBAT ZONE.
    3.ACTION
    A.CMC (DC M&RA).  REVIEW CURRENT PERSONNEL ASSIGNMENT
    POLICIES TO ENSURE MAXIMUM ASSIGNMENT FLEXIBILITY WITH AN
    ORIENTATION TOWARDS GETTING ALL MARINES TO THE FIGHT.
    SPECIFICALLY,
    (1)AS FEASIBLE, REASSIGN MARINES THAT HAVE YET TO DEPLOY TO
    ROTATIONAL UNITS, BUT LIMIT THE IMPACT ON UNIT COHESION.
    (2)INCREASED TIME-ON-STATION WAIVERS ARE AUTHORIZED IN ORDER
    TO EFFECTIVELY REDISTRIBUTE MARINES AFFECTED BY THIS GUIDANCE.
    (3)AS REQUIRED, MODIFY THE III MEF ASSIGNMENT POLICY.
    B.COMMANDERS
    (1)REVIEW INTERNAL COMMAND ASSIGNMENTS TO IDENTIFY MARINES
    WHO HAVE NOT YET DEPLOYED TO A COMBAT ZONE AND FACILITATE
    THEIR REASSIGNMENT TO ROTATIONAL UNITS.
    (2)COORDINATE, AS NECESSARY, WITH CMC (M&RA) TO ENSURE
    DEPLOYMENT ASSIGNMENT EQUITY AMONG ALL MARINES.
    (3)SUPPORT A MARINES REQUEST TO DEPLOY.
    4.COORDINATING INSTRUCTIONS
    A.THIS ALMAR APPLIES TO THE TOTAL FORCE MARINE CORPS.
    B.ENSURE ALL MARINES ARE COGNIZANT OF MY INTENT.
    5.SEMPER FIDELIS, JAMES T. CONWAY, GENERAL, U.S.
    MARINE CORPS, COMMANDANT OF THE MARINE CORPS//

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