By Jim Garamone
WASHINGTON, July 24, 2006 – Commanders will shift U.S. forces in Iraq to deal with insurgent threats, but this does not mean more American troops will go into the country, nor that the announced rotation will change. Multinational Force Iraq commander Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr. will shift forces already in Iraq to Baghdad, Army Gen. John P. Abizaid, commander of U.S. Central Command, said in an interview with New York Times reporter Michael Gordon.
"There is a very serious effort to make sure that it is not just weighted with additional U.S. capability, but also additional Iraqi capability," Abizaid told Gordon. "Clearly, it will require that we move whatever combat power that the commanders on the ground there think is appropriate, whether Iraqi or American. And I think it will be a combination of both."
Pentagon officials said Casey has the leeway and the experience to do whatever he thinks right. "It is a dynamic security environment - things change all the time," Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said today. "It is a testament to the way the United States military operates that it is a flexible and adaptable force." Whitman said Casey regularly makes adjustments to force posture in Iraq. "With respect to Baghdad, the environment is what it is right now, and ... he will make adjustments to where military forces are within the country based on his best military judgment on where they can best be used," Whitman said.
There are 127,000 U.S. troops in Iraq at present. Abizaid's statement does not mean that number will rise or fall. Whitman said the number of U.S. troops in Iraq is "conditions-based" and will change if commanders on the scene call for it.
The rotation of U.S. troops into Iraq will not change, DoD officials stressed. Some 92,000 U.S. troops will deploy to Iraq in the 2006 cycle. DoD announced some of the 2006 rotations on Nov. 7, 2005. They were: Division Headquarters, 25th Infantry Division, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii; 13th Corps Support Command, Fort Hood, Texas; 1st Brigade, 34th Infantry Division, Minnesota Army National Guard; 2nd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, Schweinfurt, Germany; 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, Fort Lewis, Wash.; 3rd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.; 3rd Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii; and 2nd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, N.Y.
On June 20, DoD announced further units included in the rotation. These were: 3rd Corps Headquarters, Fort Hood, Texas; 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.; 1st Cavalry Division Headquarters, Fort Hood, Texas; 2nd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas; 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas; 4th Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, Fort Richardson, Alaska; and 2nd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo.