Gates Says No ‘D-Day’ for Troop Surge Into Iraq
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 11, 2007 The additional 21,000 troops moving into Iraq will be phased in over the next several months, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said today.
There will not be a single major movement, or “D-Day,” for the additional troops, Gates said at a White House news conference.
By June, 20 brigade combat teams or their equivalents will be in Iraq, Pentagon officials said. There are now 15.
In a nationally televised address last night, President Bush announced the troop increase and said five new brigades will go to Baghdad. The city is the “center of gravity” for the struggle against insurgents and terrorists, according to U.S. officials. Eighty percent of attacks in Iraq happen within a 30-mile radius of the capital, Bush said in his speech.
“The timetable for the introduction of the additional U.S. forces will provide ample opportunity early on, and before many of the additional U.S. troops arrive in Iraq, to evaluate the progress of this endeavor and whether the Iraqis are fulfilling their commitments to us,” Gates said this morning.
The president’s new strategy for Iraq builds on lessons and experiences of the past, Gates said. It also changes the emphasis of the “clear, hold, build” strategy. Under this, Iraqi and U.S. troops cleared areas of insurgents and terrorists. But there weren’t enough troops to hold all areas until rebuilding could begin.
“There were too many restrictions on the troops we did have,” Bush said last night. “Our military commanders reviewed the new Iraqi plan to ensure that it addressed these mistakes. They report that it does. They also report that this plan can work.”
Under the new plan, the concentration of emphasis will change to the hold portion of the strategy. Iraqi and American troops will be in Baghdad in enough force to stop insurgents and terrorists from going back into cleared neighborhoods.
American battalions will be embedded with Iraqi brigades, and more American trainers will embed at lower levels in Iraqi units. Currently, U.S. trainers serve at battalion level. This will move to company level, Army officials said.
The increase in the number of troops in Iraq will begin today, as the 2nd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, begins moving from Kuwait to Iraq, a senior DoD official said yesterday. The unit was the “call forward” force based north of Kuwait City.
DoD officials said they will increase the number of brigade combat teams gradually, and that some units will have to extend. The Minnesota National Guard’s 1st Brigade, 34th Infantry Division, will extend approximately 125 days to July 2007.
The members of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit will remain in Iraq for about 60 additional days, officials said.
Other units will continue to deploy.
-- The 4th Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, based at Fort Riley, Kan., will deploy in February, as previously announced.
-- The 3rd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, based at Fort Benning, Ga., will deploy in March.
-- The 4th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, at Fort Lewis, Wash., will deploy in April.
-- The 2nd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, at Fort Stewart, Ga., will deploy in May.
Officials said other combat support and combat service support units may be deployed as needed once new requirements are assessed.