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Rumsfeld Approves Brigade Deployment, Extension

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 19, 2003 – Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has approved the 120-day deployment to Iraq of units of 1st Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, senior military officials announced Dec. 18.

He also approved a 60-day extension for the division's 3rd Brigade. Officials said the 3,500-strong brigade deployed to Iraq six months ago.

About 2,000 members of 1st Brigade's 3,500 soldiers will deploy the first week of January to provide essential capabilities during the transition between Operation Iraqi Freedom 1 and 2, officials said. The deployment is based on the combatant commander's assessment of what capabilities he needs during the transition.

Officials said 3rd Brigade will remain in Iraq to provide continuity until the 81st Infantry Brigade, an Army National Guard unit from Washington State, deploys in March. Originally, the 81st was slated to deploy in January, but because of operational requirements, the unit needed additional training to attain a higher level of proficiency than what was initially required.

Officials said it is likely there will be other adjustments in the rotation plan as the transition continues.

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