Marine Expansion Took Half the Time Planned

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Marine Corps has expanded its ranks much
more quickly than military officials had expected.

The Corps has grown by almost 27,000 members in a little more than two years, easing some of the strain on forces tapped for Iraq and Afghanistan duty.

Last year, when they launched a program to grow the Marine Corps, officials figured their goal of 202,000 wouldn't be reached until 2012. Now, they expect to hit the mark early next year.

Military leaders also are working on getting current Marines to stay on.

The budget for retention bonuses has grown and that appears to be having an impact. In fiscal 2008, 35 percent of active duty Marines re-enlisted, compared with 24 percent two years ago.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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