Despite stretched budgets across the military, the US Marine Corps Forces Reserve will continue to give Reserve Marines opportunities to participate in international deployments and large scale exercises, to help keep Reservists busy as the active-duty Corps begins to take back some missions that they passed off to the Reserve forces over the past 14 years.
According to the former Marine Forces Reserve commander Lt. Gen. Richard Mills, who recently passed off command to Lt. Gen. Rex McMillian last month, USMC Reserve Marines will be able to volunteer for a variety of deployments starting in 2016. "During 14 years of conflict we were very active in Iraq and Afghanistan. We want to continue that same momentum," Mills said in a MarineCorpsTimes article, although many of these extended missions will only go to those who desire a bit more excitement; "We’re not going to rip anybody out of their job or home, but we are taking volunteers," he added.
The international deployment opportunities are worldwide, with missions to Africa, Latin America, Asia, and the Middle East available. Some of the volunteer opportunities that will be available in 2016 include African Lion 2016, a multinational exercise with North African allies; Trident Juncture, a large multinational NATO exercise; the Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force–South mission, currently based in Honduras; and deployments to Japan as part of the Unit Deployment Program, which sends Marines to Okinawa on 6-month rotations. Additionally, the Reserve will continue to hold its annual two-week-long Integrated Training Exercise at Twentynine Palms, California.
The Reserve is also planning to get the first of 12 MV-22 Osprey aircraft in January for the Virginia-based Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 774, which will be renamed Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 774, giving the Marine Corps Reserve two Osprey squadrons.
All this attention on the Reserve forces isn't just to keep current Marine Reservists happy. The Marine Corps is meeting its target for a smaller active-duty Corps by trying to send as many of those Marines as it can into the Reserve, hoping to keep as much of the knowledge and talent in the USMC as it possibly can. These deployment opportunities, as well as financial incentives, are key to keeping those Marines who are leaving the active-duty force - but still desiring an active deployment schedule - in the Corps.