Southeast Asia surge and 4,500 off the transient allowance to come up with a figure of 304,500.141 The Department of Defense eventually relented, bur not by much: the active-duty strength of the Marine Corps reached its Vietnam War peak on 31 March 1969, at 314,917. Even two-year enlistments proved too long to maintain the flow of replacements within this end strength, and the Marine Corps embarked on another round of early releases. During 1969 almost 70,000 Marines accepted "early-outs," well over half of all enlisted separations. The Marine Corps Transformed
By the end of 1968, the demands of the Vietnam War seemed to have pushed the Marine Corps manpower system as far as it could go. In 1965, The Marine Corps took only volunteers on long enlistments, invested in lengthy training, and fostered personnel stability in units. While these policies were "inefficient," in that they did not produce the maximum number of riflemen, they were effective, producing exceptionally combat-ready units. By the end of 1968 this had changed. As the need to fill foxholes in Vietnam grew, and with no hope of the oft-requested and much needed increases in end strength, the Marine Corps reluctantly became an "efficient" organization, concentrating on producing the maximum number of riflemen for duty in Southeast Asia. The Marine Corps turned to short enlistments (with early outs, often as little as 18 months), short training programs, high personnel turnover, and eventually draftees, to meet the needs of III MAF. Yet, even with these efforts, the Marine Corps still did not have the resources to meet its authorized strength in Vietnam.