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American Forces Press Service

Return of Units Extended in Iraq on Track, Official Says

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 1, 2004 - The return of the Army units extended in Iraq in April is on track, Defense Department officials said at a Pentagon news conference today.

In April, the Army extended the tours of duty for units of the 1st Armored Division and the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment in Iraq. The extension allowed then-Combined Joint Task Force 7 (now Multinational Force Iraq) to create a strategic reserve. The units moved to the south and took on the militia associated with radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr around Najaf and Karbala.

Now the units are preparing to leave Iraq. The units "will begin moving back during the month of August and be all home by the beginning of September," said Army Brig. Gen. David Rodriguez of the Joint Staff. "We remain on schedule."

The forces coming in behind them also are on schedule. Rodriguez said the forces are beginning to flow into the region, and they are working with the departing units on the handover.

Rodriguez also detailed some of the changes going on in Iraq following the turnover of sovereignty to the interim Iraqi government. He said the process is now one of cooperation between allies. DoD officials said the process works much like the combined command in Korea works.

Iraqi officials are part of the staffs at all military levels, Rodriguez said. Decisions are made in close consultation. He said the Iraqis do not, however, have a veto over coalition operations. He added that if tactical considerations require it, the coalition can move quickly without consultations.

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