By Donna Miles, American Forces Press ServiceNovember 20, 2006
WASHINGTON, D.C. (American Forces Press Service, Nov. 17, 2006) - Defense Department officials today announced the first of the major units scheduled to deploy to Iraq and Afghanistan for the next rotations in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.
The announcement affects about 57,000 servicemembers to deploy to Iraq and about 8,300 troops to deploy to Afghanistan beginning in early 2007, Bryan Whitman, deputy assistant secretary of defense for media operations, said today.
These troops will serve as replacements for currently deployed forces, and will serve during the 2007 to 2009 timeframe, he said.
The Iraq announcement involves about 20,000 Soldiers assigned to an Army division headquarters and five Army combat brigades. It also includes about 27,000 active-duty and 10,000 reserve-component troops serving in combat-support and combat-service-support units smaller than brigade-size elements, Whitman said.
Major units to be included in the upcoming rotation are:
-- 3rd Infantry Division Headquarters, Fort Stewart, Ga.;
-- 4th Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kan.;
-- 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, Fort Lewis, Wash.;
-- 3rd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Benning, Ga.;
-- 1st Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.; and
-- 173rd Airborne Brigade, Vicenza, Italy.
DoD also announced today that some 1,500 members of the South Carolina Army National Guard's 218th Brigade Combat Team will deploy to Afghanistan beginning early next year to train the Afghan national security forces.
In addition, DoD alerted about 6,200 active-duty troops and 600 reservists in combat support and combat service support units smaller than brigade-size elements for deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, officials said.
Both announcements reflect continued U.S. commitment to Iraq and Afghanistan and are based on ground conditions on the ground and recommendations by military commanders in both countries, Whitman said. All recommendations are made in consultation with the Iraqi and Afghan governments.
Conditions on the ground are sometimes hard to predict due to evolving situations in both countries, Whitman acknowledged, emphasizing the need for flexibility "to be able to adjust our forces to meet the mission."
DoD will continue to announce major unit deployments as decisions are made and units alerted, he said. The individual services will announce the smaller, supporting units to be included in the upcoming rotations.
Whitman said that while military rotations are planned to provide flexibility for ground commanders, today's announcements underscore a hard-and-fast U.S. commitment. "The underlying significance (of the announcements) is that they continue to demonstrate a commitment to the stability of Iraq and Afghanistan," he said.
A major factor in that stability is progress being made within both countries' security forces, officials said. They emphasized that the Iraqi and Afghan security forces continue to develop capability and assume responsibility for security in their countries.
Army Gen. John Abizaid, commander of U.S. Central Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Nov. 15 that the Iraqi armed forces, while under sectarian pressure, continue to perform effectively across Iraq.
Abizaid said "significant progress" is being made in transitioning security responsibilities to capable Iraqi forces. Iraqis and Americans alike believe that Iraq can stabilize and that the key to stabilization is effective, loyal, non-sectarian Iraqi security forces, coupled with an effective government of national unity, he said.
Meanwhile, the 35,000-member Afghan National Army is growing in both numbers and capability and helping ensure that terrorists never again take sanctuary within the country's borders, officials said. NATO's Internal Security Assistance Force took the lead for security and stability operations throughout the country Oct. 5 to support that effort.