DOD sending four units into Iraq for rotations
ARLINGTON, Va. — The Pentagon on Tuesday identified four units that will deploy to Iraq to replace units rotating out.
The Army’s 3rd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division (Mechanized) from Fort Hood, Texas; the I Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters, and two regimental combat teams, all from Camp Pendleton, Calif., are slated to deploy, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman told reporters.
Except for the Marine headquarters, all of the troops will have to begin arriving in Iraq in December, Whitman said. He did not have a precise date for when the headquarters will deploy, except that it was “into the next year.”
The four units announced Tuesday are not part of the security “surge” that has brought the current number of troops in Iraq to 159,000, Whitman said.
Instead, “this is part of the normal planning for the normal rotation,” Whitman said.
Rather than talking about troop numbers, the Pentagon has been characterizing troop strength in Iraq by talking about the number of combat brigades deployed to the region. The typical Army combat brigade has 3,500 troops.
And for the Pentagon, “normal” in Iraq means keeping the equivalent of 15 combat brigades on the ground.
The security “surge” that began in January added an additional five combat brigades, for a total of 20 combat brigades.
But “these units that have been identified for rotation into Iraq are not in any way associated with the current ‘surge,’” Whitman said. “These forces are replacement forces for the level of effort of 15 combat brigades.”
For many of the troops, the schedule means spending Christmas in the Middle East.
Thanksgiving Day may also be spent away from home, because deployment process from the United States to Iraq usually takes at least two weeks, including a stay in Kuwait for additional training and equipping.
Being an active-duty Army unit, the 3rd Brigade, 4th Infantry will deploy for 15 months, although Pentagon officials have stated that the goal is to bring active-duty Army deployments back to 12 months starting in early 2008, Whitman said.
Meanwhile, Marine Expeditionary Headquarters deploy for 12 months, while regular Marine units, including regimental combat teams, deploy for seven months, Whitman said.