Additional U.S. Troops Moving Into Iraq's Anbar Province
By Steven Donald Smith
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May. 30, 2006 About 1,500 U.S. soldiers are moving into Iraq's western Anbar province to support security operations there, U.S. military officials said today.
Two battalion task forces of the 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division, began moving into Iraq over the weekend to provide the local and provincial government officials with added security, Lt. Col. Carl Ey, an Army spokesman, said.
The 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division, is normally based in Baumholder, Germany, but has been in Kuwait for several months. "These soldiers have already been in Kuwait for a few months," Ey said. "They are trained and ready for their mission."
Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr., commander of Multinational Force Iraq, in conjunction with the Iraqi government, requested the soldiers be relocated from Kuwait to Iraq, military officials said.
Ey said it was a short-term deployment "that will make a long-term contribution to Iraq's security well-being and political process."
Each task force is a flexible combined-arms force equipped to operate across the spectrum of operations, from conducting security tasks to engaging in combat operations. This includes integral armor, mechanized infantry and engineer support, military officials said.
Army officials said security issues in Anbar province have been an ongoing problem but do not represent the situation in the country at large.
"The situation in al Anbar province is currently a challenge but is not representative of the overall security situation in Iraq, which continues to improve as the Iraqi security forces increasingly take the lead," Marine Lt. Col. Michelle Martin-Hing, a spokeswoman for Multinational Corps Iraq, stated in a press release. "To date, two divisions, 15 brigades, and 68 battalions of the Iraqi army are in the lead in their own areas of responsibility."
The Iraqi security forces have demonstrated their ability to protect the public and provide security at a number of key events this year, such as the Ashura and Arbaeen religious observances, the seating of the Council of Representatives, and the inauguration of the Iraqi government. With the support of these additional forces, they will continue to progress toward security self-reliance, military officials said.
The added number of troops puts the total number of U.S. forces in Iraq at around 130,000. The 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division, will come under the command of Multinational Force West.