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HEIDELBERG, Germany — The additional soldiers called on to carry out President Bush’s new Iraq war strategy are those either already in Iraq or already scheduled to go there this year.

Which Army units are to be deployed is decided in Washington, D.C., with the Army using a program — the “Army Forces Generation Process” or ARFORGEN — to track where units are in a three-step cycle: in training, on deployment, or reset.

The process is supposed to provide predictability and, according to an Army publication, allow for “synchronizing requirements to predictable available modular forces in a logical, systemic process.”

“This is what we’re using right now,” said Lt. Col. Carl Ey, a Department of the Army spokesman at the Pentagon. “So if you’re in the reset pool, you’re probably not going.”

But how long the rest period lasts is variable.

“Deployment of Army forces is on a schedule that deploys units for 12 months, with 12 months at home,” according to globalsecurity.org. “Should hostilities erupt, the Army can send returning troops back out on deployment in as little as four months, enough time to ‘reset’ — rest the troops and fix, overhaul and replace equipment and platforms.”

For the past year or so, Ey said, there have been 15 brigade combat teams in the Iraq theater, 13 of them Army, and two from the Marines. As the units have rotated in and out, he said, the process has been that the U.S. commander in Iraq has asked the Joint Chiefs of Staff for units, which have in turn sent the requirements to the Army and Marines.

President Bush on Wednesday announced that five additional U.S. combat brigades will be available for securing Baghdad, with the first two arriving within the next month.

Such a “surge” means more consultations with a variety of commanders, with the Army seeking advice and consent on which units could be sent earlier than planned or which extended.

“When there’s a surge or someone gets extended, there become issues we have to work through,” Ey said. “There’s a give-and-take between USAREUR [and other commands] and the Army.”

The tempo of units deploying to Iraq has picked up over the past four years as the war has continued, and some combat units have been extended past 12 months. At the beginning, soldiers spent a year in Iraq, followed by two years in garrison. That’s changed.

“We’re getting about one and one,” said a Pentagon official who declined to be named. “Most of the units are getting a little more than 12 months at home, but not all. The time people get to stay home has changed dramatically. Now, it’s sometimes less than a year out.”

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Nancy is an Italy-based reporter for Stars and Stripes who writes about military health, legal and social issues. An upstate New York native who served three years in the U.S. Army before graduating from the University of Arizona, she previously worked at The Anchorage Daily News and The Seattle Times. Over her nearly 40-year journalism career she’s won several regional and national awards for her stories and was part of a newsroom-wide team at the Anchorage Daily News that was awarded the 1989 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.
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