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Troops gear up to replace units extended in Iraq

Army News Service

Release Date: 5/4/2004

By Sgt. 1st Class Marcia Triggs

WASHINGTON (Army News Service, May 4, 2004) -- Within the next 70 days, about 10,000 troops will be deploying to Iraq to replace units that were extended beyond their one-year tour of duty, and for many of those going it will be their second time in the combat zone.

The major units in the deployment will be the 2nd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, N.Y., which arrived home in December after serving in Afghanistan, and the 11th and 24th Marine Expeditionary Units, which served in Iraq.

The 2nd Bde., 10th Mountain Division task organization will include two infantry companies from Fort Polk's Joint Readiness Training Center opposing forces; a mechanized task force from Fort Riley, Kan.; an engineer company from Fort Irwin, Calif.; and a military police platoon from Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.

Additionally Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld approved the deployment of about 37,000 more troops from the active Army, National Guard and Army Reserve as combat support and combat service-support personnel to serve in the third rotation of Operation Iraqi Freedom at the end of this year or early next year.

The additional troops will start to deploy in September and the rotation will continue to move into theater through February 2005. The official announcement was made today, but Army units were notified well in advance, said Lt. Gen. Richard Cody, the deputy chief of staff for operations, G3.

"We've been looking at our troop requirements for OIF 3 for months now. We consulted the chain of command at those units to see how long it would take them to get ready, and we are now looking ahead to OIF 4 and OEF 6," Cody said.

All National Guard and Army Reserve units being deployed were given sufficient time to train in preparation for their service in OIF, officials said. By alerting troops well in advance of deploying, they said it allows for maximum home-station preparation for Soldiers, their families, communities and employers.

All Army units had a timeline to reset for follow-on contingences whether they were combat or support units, Cody said. There is an aggressive reset and retrain program in the Army so that combatant commanders will have the resources they need. Also Cody added that the Army will continue toward modularity, and generate four more maneuver brigades, which will lengthen dwell times at home station between tours.

Like 10th Mountain Soldiers, the 364th Direct Support Supply Company from Fort Bragg, N.C., also served in Afghanistan and will be deploying to Iraq after spending 10 months at home station.

The 364th supply company will be part of the combat support units that will rotate into Iraq in phases. A phased mobilization plan is critical to ensure that proper overlap is accomplished, and to help allow maximum overlap time for the affected units, according to officials.

Officials also said that future rotations will be staggered over time to relieve the stress on transportation systems. Over the last four to five months, more than 200,000 troops have been moved to and from the Central Command area, and officials said that the goal is to decrease transportation requirements.

There are currently about 149,000 troops in Iraq, and 121,000 of them are U.S. Soldiers. The overall U.S. troop strength in Iraq will be stabilized at approximately 138,000 as requested by the combatant commanders -- a change from the predicted 115,000 in the beginning of OIF 1, officials said.

The extension of the 1st Armored Division out of Germany (minus the state-side brigade) and the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment from Fort Polk, La., caused the spike in troop strength when they were required to remain in the country 90 days beyond their one-year tour.

The security situation is continually assessed and the force levels in Iraq and Afghanistan are continually assessed by the combatant commander and will be adjusted to meet developing mission requirements, officials said.

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