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HEIDELBERG, Germany — Gen. David McKiernan, commander of U.S. Army Europe, said he knows the plan to send 21,500 extra troops to Iraq through unit extensions and accelerations worries families in his command, even though no USAREUR troops have been mentioned as part of the five more brigades.

“I understand the stresses that the surge, that the war, that uncertainty puts on soldiers and families,” he said. “I’m sure families are worried about what does this mean, whether (their units) have been announced or not. I empathize with that. We try to remove uncertainty where we can. … When I know something, the soldiers and families will know something.”

McKiernan confirmed that no USAREUR units were included in the roster of units leaving earlier for Iraq than previously scheduled, and none included as part of the plan to secure Baghdad that were announced to be extended. The 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 1st Armored Division, already has been extended, but that was announced in September.

President Bush’s plan has met with resistance on Capitol Hill, with lawmakers saying they have little confidence that the Iraqi government can or will fulfill promises to deal with militias and take the lead in providing security in Baghdad, as the president’s plan supposes.

“Democrats and Republicans alike said they are concerned that Bush’s plan, announced Wednesday night, is too little and too late, according to The Washington Post.

But McKiernan, who in 2003 led the ground war that took Baghdad in 16 days, said Friday, “I think we have to support this change in strategy that says we’re going to get a handle on security in Baghdad, and I think it’s exactly right to place responsibility on the shoulders of the Iraqi government to deal with the problem of armed militias.”

“It’s particularly important for all to understand the answer will not be only a military one,” McKiernan said. “Political and economic solutions are probably even more important than military solutions.”

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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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