The 1st Infantry Division always expected to stay in Iraq until February, according to 1st ID officials, despite a Department of Defense news release that said the division was to return after only 10 months.

The release, posted on the Pentagon’s Web site on Saturday, stated that soldiers from 1st ID and the 1st Cavalry Division, out of Fort Hood, Texas, were to be deployed for 10 months, but their deployments were being adjusted to 12 months to help provide security for upcoming Iraqi elections.

But the Germany-based 1st ID never had 10-month orders, according to Capt. Bill Coppernoll, a 1st Infantry Division spokesman in Tikrit, Iraq.

“We have expected a 12-month deployment all along,” Coppernoll said in a telephone interview Tuesday.

Recent news articles about the “two-month adjustment” have caused a bit of a stir, Coppernoll said.

“I can see how they would lead someone (in the 1st Infantry Division) to believe that they are having to stay in Iraq longer,” he said.

Coppernoll said the 1st ID is seeking clarification on the DOD release, but the division had always planned to be gone for 12 months.

“When the division deployed, we all planned on a 12-month deployment,” he said. “We expected a 12-month rotation. That hasn’t changed.”

However, there have been rumors spreading among the soldiers and filtering back to their spouses that the division would leave Iraq as early as December.

“We’ve had some spouses over the past few months asking if the soldiers are coming home early, but it’s been onesies and twosies,” said Staff Sgt. Gregory Fisher, rear detachment commander for Battery B, 1st Battalion, 33rd Field Artillery Regiment, in Bamberg, Germany. “General (B.B.) Bell came to Bamberg to tell spouses that the 1st ID can’t come back early and won’t come back early.”

Fisher said he received several calls Tuesday from family members who had read the news reports on the “extension.”

“We have always told them one year,” Fisher said. “Every set of orders that was handed out before the unit deployed said 365 days — one year.”

Two brigades that will be part of Task Force Liberty will arrive in Iraq as early as December for relief in place operations with Task Force Danger’s 30th Brigade Combat Team and a brigade from the 25th Infantry Division.

Replacements for the Germany-based brigades and the task force’s command element will deploy later, Coppernoll said. Task Force Liberty will be led by the 42nd Infantry Division headquarters from the New York Army National Guard.

The relief in place and transfer of authority can take months, he said.

“This isn’t something you do in a day or a week,” Coppernoll said. “It’s a long, deliberate, staggered process. We can’t just unplug and leave.

“We want to make sure that we set (the 42nd) up for success. We started something that we will finish until the last day.”

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