3rd ID continuing its mission
The announced deployment schedule from the Pentagon Monday does not change the 3rd Infantry Division's mission and plans to deploy units to Iraq later this year, according to a spokesman for the division.
"We will continue to train for a fall deployment to Iraq," Maj. Lee Peters, the division's deputy public affairs officer, said in an e-mail Monday in response to a question about an earlier development. "If we receive orders not to deploy, we will continue to train for future missions. If the Army determines we need to send 3rd ID forces to Afghanistan, we will be prepared to deploy there, or to any other area the Army directions us."
The division completed 15-month rotations to Operation Iraqi Freedom in stages over 2008. It was the division's third deployment to the Middle Eastern Nation since the 2003 war to unseat Saddam Hussein's regime.Division officials, including commander Maj. Gen. Tony Cucolo, have said the division headquarters and at least one brigade combat team from the 3rd are scheduled to go back to Iraq starting in the fall. Other units would follow, but for shorter deployments than last time.
Nearly 9,000 soldiers from an Army division headquarters and two Army brigade combat teams have been identified to deploy as part of the Defense Department's regularly scheduled rotation of forces to those combat theaters, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman told reporters.
The 82nd Airborne Division Headquarters from Fort Bragg, N.C., and the 4th Infantry Division's 4th Brigade Combat Team from Fort Carson, Colo., will begin deploying to Afghanistan in late spring. They are replacing the 101st Airborne Division Headquarters and the division's 4th Brigade Combat Team from Fort Campbell, Ky., Whitman said.
The 2nd Infantry Division's 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team from Fort Lewis, Wash., is heading to Iraq in the fall, and will fill in for the division's 3rd Stryker BCT, he added.
Whitman said all of the rotating units have had at least 12 months at their home stations since their last combat deployment. He added that these rotational forces don't change anything in regard to President Barack Obama's recent decisions to shift troop levels in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"These units have been identified for some time now to go in as replacement units," he said. "This isn't part of the additional capabilities that we're applying. These are rotational forces and do not alter or change any announcements made last week. ... We're still at the same [troop] levels in Iraq and Afghanistan."
About 146,000 U.S. troops serve in Iraq. By August 2010, that number should be between 35,000 to 50,000, according to Obama's Feb. 27 announcement of a drawdown of American combat forces there.
In Afghanistan, about 38,000 U.S. troops and about 19,000 others from 42 different countries make up NATO's International Security Assistance Force. The U.S. military footprint there will increase by 17,000 as early as this spring. The president approved those additional forces Feb. 17, stating that responsible drawdown forces in Iraq will provide the flexibility to shift forces to Afghanistan.