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American Unit Rotations Continue in Iraq

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 15, 2005 – With the Army's 18th Airborne Corps taking over as the Multinational Corps Iraq headquarters, the 2004-2006 rotation of troops is well under way.

Troops have been flowing into and out of Iraq since October as part of the rotation. When finished, there will be about 138,000 American servicemembers in Iraq.

DoD officials said spreading out the rotation makes sense from both an operational and logistical standpoint. Spreading out the rotation allows for a mix of experienced and new units in country. Logistically, the flow in and out of theater is more manageable.

The 18th Airborne Corps, based at Fort Bragg. N.C., replaced the Army's 3rd Corps, based at Fort Hood, Texas. The headquarters is at Camp Victory outside Baghdad. The Multinational Corps commands all coalition forces in country with the exception of special operations forces, the Multinational Transition Security Command Iraq and coalition forces involved in detention operations.

The New York National Guard's 42nd Infantry Division headquarters took over command of Multinational Division North Central from the 1st Infantry Division on Feb. 14. The division is headquartered in Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit and includes such hotspots as Samarra and Baqubah. Units of the Big Red One have been returning to their bases in Germany. Two brigades of the 3rd Infantry Division will serve under the 42nd as will the Idaho National Guard's 116th Brigade Combat team and the Tennessee Guard's 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment.

The troopers of the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment out of Fort Irwin, Calif., took command from Task Force Olympia on Feb. 13. The 1st Brigade (Stryker), 25th Infantry Division, is serving under the cavalry's command. The unit has been in country since September.

In the west, the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, normally based at Camp Pendleton, Calif., is due to turn over command to the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C. The MEF is responsible for Anbar province, which includes Fallujah, Ramadi and all the way to the Syrian and Jordanian borders. The Army's 2nd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, will serve under the MEF commander.

Concurrently, the 2nd Marine Air Wing, Cherry Point Marine Corps Air Station, N.C., will replaced the 3rd Wing Miramar Naval Air Station, Calif. The unit is based in Al Asad, Iraq.

The 3rd Infantry Division will begin its second tour in Iraq when it relieves the 1st Cavalry Division by the end of February. The 3rd out of Fort Stewart, Ga. will lead Multinational Division Baghdad and will consist of two brigades of the 3rd, the 256th Brigade Combat Team from the Louisiana National Guard, the 3rd Brigade of the 1st Armored Division and the 2nd Brigade of the 10th Mountain Division. The 1st Cav will return to Fort Hood.

The Hawaii Guard's 29th Brigade Combat Team will replace Washington State's 81st brigade around Baghdad.

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