By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
March 8, 2007 – The possibility of sending a contingent of military police to Iraq to augment the more than 21,500 American combat troops already earmarked for deployment there was foreseen by military planners, the top U.S. officer in Iraq said today. "What has been asked for subsequent to the combat formations are the typical enablers that go with the combat formations," Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of Multinational Force Iraq, told reporters during a Baghdad news conference. Petraeus assumed command of Multinational Force Iraq on Feb. 10.
The possibility that U.S. commanders in Iraq might request added support troops such as military police officers, aviation and intelligence assets, and headquarters staff "was always anticipated" during military planning sessions, Petraeus noted.
Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates announced yesterday that an additional 2,200 military police would be deployed to Iraq to assist in U.S.-Iraqi efforts to suppress hotspots of insurgent and sectarian violence in Baghdad and western parts of the country.
The military police officers will arrive in Iraq over the next few months and will be assigned to duties at detention centers, to provide route security for convoys and to mentor Iraqi police, Petraeus said. Additionally, the Republic of Georgia has volunteered to send an additional combat brigade, he said, and Australia will contribute 70 seasoned military trainers.
Earlier this year, President Bush directed the deployment of more than 21,500 additional U.S. soldiers and Marines to Baghdad and restive areas of western Iraq to deter sectarian and insurgent violence that has occurred since the Feb. 22, 2006, bombing of a holy mosque in the Iraqi city of Samarra.
Meanwhile, the build up of U.S. and Iraqi security forces continues, Petraeus said, noting that the last of the 21,500 soldiers and Marines constituting the "surge" directed by the president should be in Iraq by early June.
Two of the five U.S. Army combat brigades participating in the surge of forces are now in Baghdad, Petraeus said.
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