| WASHINGTON, April 2, 2007 More than 7,000 servicemembers will deploy to Iraq in the coming months, including two units that will not have been back at their home stations for the year they expected when they returned home from their last deployments, Defense Department officials said today.
The rotations will enable commanders in Iraq to maintain 20 brigade combat teams in the theater through the end of August, officials said.
The 3,500 soldiers of the 1st Brigade, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, N.Y., will return to Iraq 47 days before their one-year stateside dwell break is finished. The headquarters of 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas, will return to Iraq 81 days early.
The level of effort that the United States is maintaining in Iraq is a build-up to 20 combat brigades, said Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman. These combat brigades with these additional troop rotations will permit the surge to commit at that level through the end of August.
The 18th Airborne Corps from Fort Bragg, N.C., will replace the 3rd Corps out of Fort Hood, Texas, as the lead unit for Multinational Corps Iraq in November. The corps headquarters is at Camp Victory outside Baghdad.
The 1st Armored Division headquarters, from Wiesbaden, Germany, will go in to replace the 25th Infantry Division headquarters, Fort Shafter, Hawaii, in August. The 25th Infantry Division headquarters will extend in Iraq for 45 days. The 25th Infantry Division is the headquarters for the Multinational Division North, based in Contingency Operating Base Speicher, near Tikrit.
The 4th Infantry Division will return to the Iraqi capital, to replace the 1st Cavalry Division as headquarters for Multinational Division Baghdad in September. The 4th served a yearas the lead for Multinational Division Baghdad through 2006. The 1st Cavalry will depart on schedule.
The rotations will allow commanders the latitude they need to continue operations in Iraq. They can maintain the level, go down or go up depending on the circumstances, Whitman said.
What you are seeing here today reflects a decision that will carry the effort of 20 brigade combat teams through August 07, he said.
There will be other decision points for commanders in Iraq over the next few months, he said. There are roughly 1,000 servicemembers apiece in the division headquarters.
A DoD official said today the department regards the dwell break for the two units as significant, and that proposals being worked in DoD would compensate servicemembers who either go back to Iraq early or are extended in the country.