Tuesday, January 15, 2008
hey mister can you tell me where a man can find a bed:
So we've got an additional 3,200 Marines about to go to Afghanistan for a "finite" period. (The Pentagon doesn't want you to call it a surge!) But take a look at this exchange during Geoff Morrell's Pentagon briefing today:
Q: Is there the potential that this deployment could also affect the seven-month tours down the road in Iraq?

MR. MORRELL: For these deploying forces?

Q: For future deployments of Marine forces into Iraq.

MR. MORRELL: My understanding is that there may -- that these deployments may require a brief additional period of boots on the ground, but not -- but not much. Or we may be breaking a little -- we may be cutting down a little bit of dwell time. Let me get you the firm answer on that. I think it will require either us to have forces deployed slightly earlier, although not an unreasonably amount earlier -- an unreasonable amount earlier, but I -- I'm going to correct myself -- I do not believe they'll have to deploy any longer. These are seven-month, as I mentioned, deployments.

Maybe Charlie can correct me, but I don't think that Marines have ever faced tours longer than seven months during either the Iraq or Afghanistan wars. What's more, it's a dedicated priority of General James Conway, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, to boost dwell time to a 1:2 ratio -- that is, eight months at home/station for every four deployed. What will the effect of a short dwell time be on the 3,200 Marines heading to Afghanistan?

Nor does this appear to be a very auspicious development. From later in the briefing:

Q: You have mentioned that some Marines may have to -- (word inaudible) -- dwell. Is it possible to find out how many Marines you're talking about and which unit?

MR. MORRELL: We've ended this conversation, so we don't take anymore questions on that topic, I apologize.

--Spencer Ackerman