DARMSTADT, Germany — The Army’s top warfighting headquarters in Europe has been tapped to go back to the desert.

V Corps headquarters and six of its major commands will return to Iraq sometime between April 2005 and January 2006, according to a Department of Defense announcement Friday.

Also, six additional U.S. Army Europe command elements are getting orders sending them to Iraq, Afghanistan and Africa within the same time frame.

V Corps is still led by Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, who served as the top commander in Iraq until he was replaced by Gen. George Casey in July 2004.

It’s unclear if Sanchez will be put in the awkward position of returning to Iraq in a more junior role. Tours for corps commanders are typically two years, but are often extended to twice that.

Under the shadow of the Abu Ghraib scandal, Pentagon officials are so far mum on whether Sanchez will be offered another assignment — requiring another round of confirmation hearings before the Senate — or retire.

Regardless, it will be Sanchez’s job for now to prepare his staff for the complex war zone he knows well.

The V Corps headquarters, which led the initial assault into Iraq nearly two years ago, will replace XVIII Airborne Corps as the leadership nucleus for ground units in Iraq when it formally assumes command of Multi-National Corps-Iraq in early 2006, according to the statement.

The Fort Bragg, N.C.-based XVIII Airborne Corps is just arriving in Iraq for its yearlong tour, replacing the Fort Hood, Texas-based III Corps.

V Corps will be responsible for overseeing a slew of stateside units during its next tour there, including the Fort Campbell, Ky.-based 101st Airborne Division and Fort Hood-based 4th Infantry Division, as well 1st Armored Division’s two Germany-based Brigades.

The main support units most recently tagged to deploy alongside V Corps staff include the Germany-based 3rd Corps Support Command, V Corps Artillery, 205th Military Intelligence Brigade, 130th Engineer Brigade, 22nd Signal Brigade and 30th Medical Brigade.

It is unclear who will provide the majority of aviation support during the deployment. V Corps’ attack helicopter 11th Aviation Regiment and support helicopter 12th Aviation Brigade are both supporting deployments to Afghanistan.

“We have the order and we will currently be assessing the requirements to determine which units will be sent to meet those requirements,” said Hilde Patton, V Corps spokeswoman, of units could be added to the Iraq deployment roster.

“I can speculate that this early announcement gives a certain predictability,” Patton said, but would not give specifics on which additional formations would be deploying.

Patton said it’s impossible to tell how many veterans of V Corps’ first foray into Iraq will still be part of the corps when it returns to the war zone.

“People are always moving in and out,” asked Patton. With most tours about three years long, however, the vast majority of soldiers and staff will have rotated to new assignments by the time the corps flag is planted back in Baghdad.

Upcoming USAREUR deployments

The following is a list of USAREUR commands and where they’ll deploy between April and January 2006:

Operation Iraqi Freedom

21st Theater Support Command: Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 37th Transportation Command; Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 28th Transportation Battalion; 68th Transportation Company (Medium); 109th Transportation Company (Medium); 495th Movement Control Team; 486th Movement Control Team; 260th Trailer Transfer Detachment; 574th Supply and Services Company; 612th Movement Control Team; 623rd Movement Control Team; and the 624th Movement Control Team.

5th Signal Command: 72nd Signal Battalion.

1st Personnel Command: 90th Personnel Services Battalion and its HHD, A and B Detachments, 90th Postal Company, 1st Postal Platoon, and 2nd Postal Platoon; the 55th PSB and its HHD, A and B Detachments, 55th Postal Company, 2nd Postal Platoon, and 3rd Postal Platoon; and A Detachment, 510th PSB.

The 266th Finance Command: HHC, 266th Finance Command; HHD and A and B Detachment, 8th Finance Battalion; and C Detachment/39th Finance Battalion.

Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan)

21st Theater Support Command: HHD, 95th Military Police Battalion; 95th MP Battalion Kennel Master (1); 95th MP Battalion Military Working Dog Teams (8); 272nd MP Company; 230th MP Company; 702nd Explosive Ordnance Detachment; and 2/251st Cargo Transfer Company to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Horn of Africa

21st Theater Support Command: 95th MP Battalion Military Working Dog Teams (3).

—Source: U.S. Department of Defense

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