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ARLINGTON, Va. — Four National Guard brigade combat teams totaling about 13,000 reservists have been alerted for possible deployment to Iraq as early as December, Pentagon officials announced Monday.

The units receiving the orders include:

n 39th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Little Rock, Ark.

n 45th Infantry Brigade, Oklahoma City

n 76th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Indianapolis

n 37th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Columbus, Ohio

The alerts, approved by Defense Secretary Robert Gates, represent the first time full Guard combat brigades could be sent back to Iraq for a second tour.

These troops are earmarked to serve as replacement forces in the regular unit rotation for the war. They are not connected to the military build-up for security operations in Baghdad that President Bush announced in January, military officials said.

But being alerted of possible deployment does not mean that the units will be sent to Iraq for certain, a senior defense official told Pentagon reporters Friday.

Instead, the official said, the Pentagon is working to identify units for what it calls the regular 2008-2010 Iraq troop rotation.

“If you’re going to bring National Guard brigades into that, you’ll want to notify them as far in advance as possible,” so that they can make arrangements with their employers and begin to train, the official said.

Whether the four National Guard brigades will actually deploy or not will “depend on conditions on the ground” in Iraq, the official said.

The 39th Infantry Brigade Combat Team last deployed as part of the 1st Cavalry Division from February 2004 to February 2005, according to Army records. The “Arkansas Brigade” served both in the Baghdad Green Zone and in Taji, Iraq.

The 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team deployed to Afghanistan in the fall of 2003 to support the Afghan National Army. The “Thunderbirds” also spent a full year in theater, Army records show.

The 37th Infantry Brigade Combat Team last deployed to support operations in Kosovo as part of the United Nations Kosovo Force mission from August 2004 to February 2005. One of the transformed brigades, the “Dragon Brigade,” now includes Guardsmen from both Ohio and Michigan.

Indiana’s 76th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, another transformed brigade, has had elements of the unit deployed to either Iraq or Afghanistan since November 2002. The last brigade-level rotation for the “Nighthawk Brigade” was in Afghanistan from May 2004 to August 2005, Army officials said.

Overall, about one-third of the 13,000 National Guard soldiers identified in the alert have deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan previously, the defense official said.

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