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ARLINGTON, Va.- The Defense Department has announced that 26,000 U.S. troops will head to Iraq beginning this winter and continuing through the summer.

The rotation will keep the number of brigade combat teams in Iraq at 14, said Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman.

Whitman said the following the higher level headquarters units will deploy first:

I Corps Headquarters; Fort Lewis, Wash.1st Cavalry Division Headquarters; Fort Hood, Texas.II Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters; Camp Lejeune, N.C.The other units deploying are:4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division; Fort Bliss, Texas.4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division; Fort Bragg, N.C.1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division; Fort Bragg, N.C.5th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division; Fort Lewis, Wash.3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division; Fort Lewis, Wash.4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division; Fort Riley, Kan.Also deploying is the Wyoming National Guard’s 115th Fires Brigade, an artillery unit that will provide base security and route clearance, officials said.

The brigade is not counted as one of the 14 brigade combat teams in Iraq because it does not perform the full spectrum of operations, Whitman said.

News of the rotation comes as the U.S. military is drawing down troop levels in Iraq and diverting soldiers and Marines to Afghanistan, where commanders have requested four additional brigade combat teams.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has said any significant increase in U.S. troop strength in Afghanistan would have to wait until spring and summer.

Whitman said it’s possible that some of the units identified in Tuesday’s deployments could be diverted from Iraq to Afghanistan as part of that shift, but said there are no current plans for that.


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