Iraq Deployment Adjustments Allow for 15 Brigades in Iraq Through March

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 26, 2006 - Adjustments to Iraq troop-rotation schedules announced yesterday will allow 15 U.S. combat brigades to be in Iraq through spring, DoD officials said today.

The 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 1st Armored Division, based in Friedberg, Germany, will stay in Iraq for another 46 days. The brigade was scheduled to redeploy in mid-January 2007. This will shift to late February. The 4th Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, based at Fort Hood, Texas, will deploy 30 days earlier then originally scheduled, beginning in late October.

"We are a nation at war, and you would expect the nation's military to be used to fight that war," Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said today. The adjustments will give U.S. Central Command commander Army Gen. John Abizaid and Army Gen. George Casey, the commander Multinational Force Iraq, the type of combat capabilities, troop levels and force constructs they need given the conditions in Iraq, he said.

A further effect of the adjustments will permit the 1st Brigade of the 3rd Infantry Division, based at Fort Stewart, Ga., to complete their full 12-month "dwell time" at their home station. Army officials said the time is needed so the brigade can finish re-equipping, retraining and resetting, Whitman said.

The adjustments give Casey 15 combat brigades through March 2007. At that time, Casey can determine whether to increase or decrease the size of the force. There are 142,000 U.S. military personnel in Iraq today.

The change also may affect the length of the deployment of the 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team. In July, DoD extended the unit's deployment to Iraq for up to 120 days. "Their current redeployment date is for mid-December," Whitman said. "I think there is some desire to move that up a little bit, but that is going to be a decision that rests with the (Multinational Force Iraq) commander."

The changes do not indicate a "broken Army," as some critics are charging, Whitman said. "What it reflects to me is the flexibility and adaptability of the U.S. military, particularly the Army, to be able to provide the force structure that's required in a dynamic environment like you have in Iraq," he said. "As the conditions and situations change, they are able to make adjustments that provide for the type of combat force that the combat commander thinks he needs."

Deployment or redeployment decisions are not taken lightly, Whitman said. "At the same time, everyone in this department understands that the first priority is to provide the combatant commander ... with all the tools, all the resources and all the forces that he feels he needs," he said. "The Army and Marine Corps are fulfilling those requirements and doing it on a sustainable and enduring basis."

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