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3rd ID to extend Iraq tour
U.S. forces in Iraq will draw down to 50,000 by Spet. 1
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The 3rd Infantry Division’s headquarters unit announced Wednesday it will extend its Iraq deployment by 30 days. The 3rd ID Special Troops Battalion’s 700 soldiers will redeploy in November instead of October, as was initially scheduled.

3rd ID Special Troops Battalion Public Affairs Officer Maj. Jeff Allen said via e-mail Wednesday no other brigade would be affected by the 30-day extension.

Allen stressed DoD’s decision to extend 3rd ID’s headquarters was a way to ensure continuity of command and had nothing to do with “difficulties on the ground.”

“Things are progressing well with no outstanding issues causing an extension,” he said.

The 3rd ID headquarters will transfer authority to the 4th Infantry Division out of Fort Carson, Colorado, in early November, shortly before the 3rd ID DSTB redeploys. The 4th ID will complete its deployment cycle in December 2011.

3rd ID Commander Maj. Gen. Tony Cucolo said 3rd ID headquarters will transfer authority to the 4th ID on Nov. 3 or 4.

“It makes sense,” Maj. Gen. Cucolo said. “If the mission says ‘be prepared to go all the way to December 2011 with a division headquarters,’ the choices were either give 3rd ID headquarters 12 months and leave 4th ID with the possibility of 14 (months), or give each division headquarters 13 months. Sure, we’d all like to be heading home at the 12-month mark, but we would not want to pull out of here if it had the potential to put our brothers and sisters in 4th ID at a disadvantage. This is the right thing to do, and I’m really glad our leadership made the decision.”

U.S. forces in Iraq will draw down to 50,000 troops by Sept. 1, as mandated by President Barack Obama.

The 3rd ID currently oversees U.S. Division – North with about 21,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines. Task Force Marne will reduce its troop size to about 9,400 soldiers.

“We are all thankful for the unwavering support of the coastal Georgia community through the uncertainty of our recent deployments; they’ve been fantastic,” Cucolo said. “But it is moments like this when I am most thankful for the incredible resilience of the Marne Division’s Army families.

They’ve been through a lot this decade and remain a tough, proud group of Americans whose unconditional love carries us through these deployments. We get our strength and endurance from them.”

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