WASHINGTON — The Pentagon has decided on its troop rotation plans for mid-2005, which will keep force levels at the same strength for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

There are roughly 138,000 troops in Iraq and 18,000 in Afghanistan; another 12,000 are being sent to Iraq to provide security for elections.

Defense Department spokesman Lawrence Di Rita, speaking at a Tuesday Pentagon briefing, said the moves were part of the regular rotations, and would not significantly change the look of the force in either Iraq or Afghanistan.

The deployment would keep force levels at three brigades and a division headquarters element in Afghanistan, and 17 brigades and three division headquarters elements in Iraq.

For Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, the troops set to rotate in include:

The 3rd and 4th Brigades and headquarters elements, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, N.Y.The 53rd Infantry Brigade and headquarters elements, Florida National GuardFor Operation Iraqi Freedom, the following units have been tapped to rotate in:

4th Infantry Division — division headquarters and four brigades101st Airborne Division, Air Assault, headquarters elements and four brigades, Fort Campbell, Ky.48th Infantry Brigade (Separate), Georgia National Guard172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, Fort Wainwright, Alaska.1st Brigade, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, N.Y.1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kan.The Pentagon alerted all units Friday, according to a senior Pentagon official.

Smaller units also will be deployed, but planners had not gotten to that level of detail as of Tuesday, according to the official.

Army Brig. Gen. David Rodriguez, deputy regional operations director for the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said it would be two to three months before the combat support elements would be identified.

Asked whether the continued insurgency was the motivation behind the announcement, Di Rita would only say the Defense Department would continue to evaluate the situation to determine whether more or fewer troops will be needed in the years to come.

Speaking in Baghdad on Tuesday, Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said U.S. troop numbers will rise from 138,000 to 150,000 before next month’s elections, which many Iraqis fear could be targeted by militants opposed to the occupation and bent on derailing the political process.

“Our troop levels will be at 150,000 for the elections and a little bit after,” Myers said, adding that events would determine whether those numbers will be scaled down after the ballot.

The previous high for the U.S. force in Iraq was 148,000 on May 1, 2003, when President Bush declared that major combat operations were over, and most soldiers thought the war had been won. The initial invasion force included thousands of sailors on ships in the Persian Gulf and other waters, plus tens of thousands of troops in Kuwait and other surrounding countries.

The units identified for Iraq represent some 70,000 soldiers, an Army official confirmed Tuesday.

That leaves the number of units yet to be be announced for Iraq is about “four brigade equivalents,” or roughly 20,000 soldiers, short of the approximately 100,000 troops which the Army is now contributing to Iraq, an Army official said (the precise numbers fluctuate as troops come and go).

Meanwhile, there are now 32,000 Marines deployed to Iraq.

The Marines definitely are planning to participate in the Iraq rotation, as well, according to Marine Corps spokesman Capt. Dan McSweeney.

“We’ll be participating, but the units have not yet been identified,” McSweeney said in a Tuesday telephone interview.

Stripes reporter Lisa Burgess and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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