U.S. troops held in reserve in Kuwait put on alert
The sectarian strife that erupted after the bombing of a revered Shiite shrine led to the Germany-based 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division — held in Kuwait as a ready reserve force — being put on alert for possible move north into Iraq.
While the military stopped short of deploying the unit to help quell the violence, such a move is still a possibility, officials said. The crisis after the shrine bombing led the unit to be called in from training, and commanders went through a planning exercise to determine under what conditions the brigade would be called into Iraq and how long it would take for its arrival. But there was no decision to call the brigade forward.
“The unit has not been ordered to deploy any troops into Iraq and remains ready to reinforce the Multi-National Force if needed. That is not the case at this time,” Lt. Col. Barry Johnson, Multi-National Force–Iraq spokesman, said in an e-mail to Stars and Stripes.
“Clearly, there is no set criteria for doing this. That’s why we have commanders who listen to recommendations and make decisions. In this case, preparing the force to move forward if needed is a prudent precaution given the circumstances and is exactly the reason they are there in the first place.”
Keeping the 2nd Brigade in Kuwait was one half of the initial drawdown of forces announced by the Pentagon late last year. Another U.S. Army brigade that was scheduled to be in Iraq is being held at its home base. The 1st Armored troops have been conducting training drills on ranges in the northern Kuwait desert since deploying last fall. Another 1st Armored unit — the Friedberg- based 1st Brigade Combat Team — has assumed responsibility for an area in northern Iraq that includes Tal Afar.
Officials for 1st Armored Division in Germany declined to comment on the status of 2nd Brigade. But, said division spokesman Maj. Mike Indovina, “we regularly communicate and keep our families informed on activities of our deployed soldiers through established rear detachment leadership and family readiness groups.”