By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA American Forces Press ServiceSeptember 26, 2006
WASHINGTON, Sept. 25, 2006 - One Army unit will be extended in Iraq and another will be deployed earlier than previously scheduled, DoD officials announced today.
The 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 1st Armored Division, based in Friedberg, Germany, will have its tour of duty extended for about 46 days, DoD officials said. The unit was scheduled to redeploy in mid-January 2007 and will now begin that redeployment in late February. Also, the 4th Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, will deploy 30 days earlier then originally scheduled, beginning their deployment in late October.
These adjustments are being made to maintain the force structure of 15 combat brigades in Iraq, which combatant commanders in Iraq have determined is needed at this time and probably at least until next spring, Bryan Whitman, a DoD spokesman, said.
"What these decisions reflect is the flexibility that the United States military has to adjust to a changing environment and a changing situation," Whitman said. "It reflects ... a continuing commitment on the part of the international community as well as the United States to see that this mission is successful and to make sure that the necessary resources are available so that the mission will be successful."
The extended tour of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, will allow the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, based in Fort Stewart, Ga., to complete its one year "dwell time" -- time in the U.S. -- before deploying again in January 2007, Whitman said. Dwell time is important because it gives the unit time to refit, retrain, rest and get ready for another deployment, he said.
The Army has made every effort to notify the family members of the soldiers affected by these decisions in advance, Whitman said. He stressed that the Army is committed to taking care of soldiers' families and ensuring they fully understand why the decision was made, particularly the families of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division.
"This is a unit that has been performing magnificently in Iraq, and their services are going to be needed for a while longer, and we know that that comes at a tremendous sacrifice not only for them, but also for their families that are expecting them home in Germany," he said.
U.S. force levels in Iraq continue to be based on conditions on the ground and are made in consultation with the Iraqi government, Whitman said. He noted that Iraqi security forces continue to make progress, and force rotations can be changed based on further changes in the security situation.
"Each and every week, the Iraqi security forces are increasing in numbers as well as increasing in their capabilities," he said. "Over time, they are becoming more and more responsible for Iraq, and that will eventually lead to not needing as many U.S. military forces in the country."