The Department of Defense announced today a decision to not deploy portions of the 1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, based atFort Riley, Kansas to Iraq, and to modify the deployment orders of the 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division, based in Baumholder, Germany, to remain in Kuwait as a call-forward force.
This decision will result in a reduction of U.S. force levels of approximately two combat brigade-equivalents, or about 7,000 troops, in Iraq. This will bring the number of U.S. combat brigades in Iraq from 17 to 15. The size and composition of the U.S. force in Iraq will continue to fluctuate as commanders continue to shift focus from combat operations to training and supporting the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF). This will include increases in the number of U.S. forces involved in transition teams, intelligence support and logistics, to assist the ISF in continuing to assume responsibility for the security of their country. The effect of these adjustments will likely reduce the forces in Iraq by the Spring of 2006 below the 138,000 baseline.
This decision follows the demonstrated capabilities of Iraqi Security Forces in establishing primary security conditions in the recent Iraqi elections. Continued success in the handover of security responsibilities is making this U.S. force adjustment possible.
Elements of the 1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Division will deploy to conduct missions such as providing security forces and conducting transition training for Iraqi Security Forces. U.S. and Coalition forces will continue to work with the Iraqi government to help strengthen the Iraqi security-related Ministries, and train professional Iraqi security forces.
The 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division has already deployed to Kuwait and will remain there available as a call-forward force for the commander, U.S. Central Command to support operations in Iraq. The decision on the length of the brigade's deployment will be based on the situation in Iraq. The deployment continues the U.S. commitment to Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), yet provides the U.S. Central Command with flexibility in order to adjust to the conditions in Iraq.
U.S. troop numbers may continue to fluctuate in response to conditions and requirements as assessed by U.S. commanders. Commanders will continue to assess the situation on the ground for future force-level adjustments. We will continually adjust our military posture as conditions evolve and Iraqi capabilities grow.