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The 3rd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division has completed its arrival in Baghdad to help support the new security push,` U.S. military officials said Saturday.

The brigade — one of at least five tabbed to round out the “surge” of combat troops in downtown Baghdad — will “assist Iraqi Security Forces to clear, control and retain key areas of the capital city in order to reduce violence and better protect the Iraqi populace,” the military said.

Made up of more than 3,000 soldiers from Fort Benning, Ga., the brigade is beginning its fourth tour in Iraq. According to military officials, the bulk of the brigade will be at Forward Operating Base Hammer, a former Iraqi army base east of Baghdad.

While upgrades at the base are under way, soldiers are currently living in tents with air-conditioning and heating systems, the brigade’s command sergeant major, James Pearson, said in a news release. Two hot meals a day are served at a dining hall on the base, with a second dining hall under construction. A Morale, Welfare and Recreation center is also under construction, officials said.

The 3rd Brigade, known as the “Sledgehammer Brigade,” began deploying from Fort Benning on Feb. 28, officials said, and spent time training in Kuwait before moving into Baghdad.

The brigade is one of five in the Army that have had deployments added or sped up as part of a push to get nearly 30,000 more troops on the ground in Iraq. Two of the brigades — 2nd Brigade, 82nd Airborne, and the 4th Brigade, 1st Infantry Division — already have taken up positions in Baghdad.

The troop increase is an attempt to quell sectarian violence and bring more security to the capital.


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