Pentagon taps 10,000 troops for Iraq, 5,000 more on standby

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Mon Sep 29 20:20:50 MDT 2003


Pentagon taps 10,000 soldiers for Iraq, puts 5,000 more on standby
Sat Sep 27, 6:43 AM ET Agence France Presse



WASHINGTON (AFP) - The Pentagon has mobilized two US Army National
Guard brigades for deployment to Iraq  and put a third on standby as
US calls for international troop contributions go unheeded.


The 30th Infantry Brigade from North Carolina and the 39th Infantry
Brigade from Arkansas -- 10,000 soldiers in total -- will mobilize
October 1 and October 12, respectively, the Department of Defense
(news - web sites) said in a statement late Friday.


"These units can expect to be in the Iraqi theater for up to 12
months. The total length of mobilization is up to 18 months to allow
time for equipping, training, mobilizing, leave and demobilizing
activities," the statement said.

The two brigades were notified in July that they could be tapped for
service as part of a major force rotation plan to ease pressure on US
soldiers deployed in Iraq. At the time the Pentagon said the rotation
would not affect the total number of US troops serving in Iraq.

The Pentagon alerted another 5,000 soldiers Friday that they may be
next.

"The Army also announced that the 81st Army National Guard Infantry
Brigade from Washington state has been alerted in support of Operation
Iraqi Freedom," the statement said.

US defense officials had given numerous indications over the past few
days that the United States could be forced to deploy additional
troops of its own to Iraq if no other countries agreed to aid the
US-led occupation.

Meanwhile US President George W. Bush (news - web sites) and Secretary
of State Colin Powell (news - web sites) held bilateral meetings with
leaders of several countries on the sidelines of the UN General
Assembly meeting in New York in the hope of convincing them to
contribute to a multinational force in Iraq.

Several countries -- in particular Turkey, South Korea (news - web
sites), India and Pakistan -- have been asked to send troops, but have
so far not agreed to do so.

General Peter Pace, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said
Wednesday more US National Guard and reserve units could be called to
serve in Iraq if the United States fails to get other countries to
contribute to the coalition forces there.

"By around the end of October, beginning of November we should be
alerting the forces that need to be called up," he told reporters.

Nearly 160,000 foreign soldiers are present in Iraq, including 140,000
Americans and 10,600 British.

Britain controls the southern part of the country, while Poland
directs a multinational division of 9,000 soldiers in the
center-south. The US troops are deployed in the center and the north
of Iraq.

With the occupation dragging on and no clear end in sight, the
Pentagon announced in early September that tours of duty would be
lengthened to a year, for reservists as well as for professional
soldiers.

Friday's announcement came as the first US troops to be granted leaves
from duty in Iraq arrived home for two weeks of rest and recuperation.
The Pentagon approved the "R and R" last week, the first such
large-scale liberty since the Vietnam war.

After a trial period, some 270 men and women will leave Iraq each day
and, in a third phase, 800 daily.

The leave is apparently intended to reduce grumbling from the ranks as
well as from military families, many of whom expected the war to be
over quickly.

On Friday a US anti-war group, MoveOn.org, took out a pricey full-page
advertisement in the New York Times calling on Defense Secretary
Donald Rumsfeld to resign -- featuring a letter from the father of two
men serving with the US military in Iraq.

"Donald Rumsfeld betrayed my sons and our nation. It's time for him to
go," said the letter from Larry Syverson of Richmond, Virginia. "I'm
angry with those who have led us into what can only be called a
quagmire.

"Donald Rumsfeld had day-to-day authority for planning for the war and
its aftermath," Syverson wrote. "He was the chief architect and it is
his house of cards that is tumbling today."

With US soldiers attacked almost daily in Iraq, at least 83 have been
killed in action since May 1, when Bush declared an end to major
combat operations after the capture of Baghdad.




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