What a week for the Marines Corps: Remembering one of its most storied moments, the Iwo Jima flag raising; trying to figure out why its suicide rate is up; and shelling out big bucks to keep the ranks full.

The New York Times, among others, reports on the Marine Corps offering big re-enlistment bonuses as recruiting gets tougher. The drop in recruitment is due partly to lack of enthusiasm for “Crazyworld,” as some soldiers have been known to call Iraq, and partly to the fact some troops who would normally be doing recruiting have been sent to war zones instead.

In a reflection of the difficult market for Marine recruiters, the service offers bonuses of up to $35,000 to retain combat veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan.

What is unusual about these incentives is that the Marines Corps for the first time is offering re-enlistment bonuses, averaging $20,000, to its most junior infantrymen, rather than relying mainly on inexperienced troops fresh from boot camp to replenish the infantry. About 75 percent of enlisted marines leave the service after their first tour, requiring a steady stream of recruits moving through training centers in San Diego and Parris Island, S.C.

The reports on the bonuses include this priceless quote from Marine Corps commandant General Michael W. Hagee: “We need infantrymen. That’s what we’re using over there on the ground.”

4 Replies to “1-800 MARINES”

  1. Those folks who are up for re-enlistment now — it’s just a different Corps than when they first enlisted pre 9/11.
    I recall my daughter’s friend, who just got out in January, saying he could see himself making a career of the Marines. Then things changed. He’s no sissy, but I gotta tell ya, he couldn’t get out of there fast enough. And, yes he did go to Iraq. And no, he didn’t see combat first hand.

  2. It must be really tough for these guys. We have a friend here in Berkeley whose son enlisted in the Marines in about 1999. He was in an artillery unit and got sent to Iraq for the invasion. In fact, after Baghdad was taken, his company was sent to do police duty there. But they were pulled out pretty quickly — think they were back in the States by May or June 2003, and the kid’s tour ended in the fall. Apparently, he turned down requests to re-enlist — was glad to get out when he did. And apparently the Corps, unlike the Army, actually let’s its people go when their terms are up instead of doing the stop-loss thing. That actually seems pretty smart in that the Corps is saying a deal is a deal, and when your time’s up, it’s up.

  3. I read the Times story. It is a good one. This is a situation which is not unlike others in Bushworld. Eventually they are going to have to level with themselves and the country then start to conscripting bodies in order to keep Iraq a free nation. It’s like the national debt bubble, trade deficit bubble and the prescription drug bubble. Something gotta’ give.

  4. Speaking of the Marines. Eamon has posted his Okinawa photos at his site…sixty years (almost to the day) since the American landings.

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