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American Forces Press Service

Two More Battalions to Boost Security During Iraq Elections

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 24, 2005 Two infantry battalions from the 82nd Airborne Division will deploy from Fort Bragg, N.C., to Iraq to support security efforts during the upcoming election period, defense officials announced today.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld approved the request from Army Gen. George Casey, commander of Multinational Force Iraq. Officials said the request was made in close consultation with and the support of the Iraqi government.

The 1,500 All-American Division troops will deploy within the next several weeks and will be in Iraq for an estimated 120 days, officials said. There, they will join the 180,000 Iraqi security forces and 138,000 coalition forces in helping set the security conditions needed for successful elections.

Army Lt. Col. Barry Venable, a Pentagon spokesman, said the added troops will help guard against any efforts on the part of insurgents to disrupt the elections, allowing the political process to continue moving forward.

"Political progress in Iraq is on track, and this deployment is in support of continued progress," he said. "We are reinforcing success."

DoD approved similar troop-level adjustments before the transfer of Iraqi sovereignty in June 2004 and before two successful national elections, one in Afghanistan last fall and one in Iraq in January.

In addition, defense officials announced plans in July to deploy an additional battalion to Afghanistan to support security efforts during September elections.

"We've done it before, it worked well, and we're doing it again," Venable said of actions to come about with today's announcement.

Commanders on the ground will continue to assess security conditions and adjustments troop levels as needed to support the elections, officials said.

Venable emphasized that the troop increase for the election period is temporary and is not directly related to the long-term U.S. presence in Iraq.

Decisions about force reductions and redeployments will be based on conditions, not an artificial timetable, he said, with U.S. troops remaining in Iraq in the numbers needed through the political transitions and until Iraq is capable of providing for its own security.

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