More U.S. Troops Going to Iraq

December 4, 2004

On December 1, U.S. military officials announced that they were sending more troops to Iraq and expanding the U.S. troop levels there to the highest level of the war -- even higher than during the initial invasion in March 2003 -- in order "to bolster security."

Brig. General David Rodriguez, deputy operations director of the Joint Staff, told reporters that the American force will expand from 138,000 troops today to about 150,000 by January.

The troop expansion will be achieved by sending about 1,500 troops from the 82nd Airborne Division in Fort Bragg, N.C., this month and by extending the combat tours of about 10,400 troops already in Iraq.

One unit, the 2nd Brigade of the 1st Cavalry Division, is being extended for the second time. Its soldiers originally were told they would be going home in November at the end of a 10-month assignment, but in October they got the news that they would remain until mid-January. Now they are being extended until at least mid-March.

Military officials have said repeatedly in recent weeks that they were considering this increase, and may even send additional troops in the future.

Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island said of the new deployment: "This announcement makes it clear that commanders in Iraq need more troops and that this will be a long and very expensive process for the United States," Reed said. "It is still not clear whether Iraq will emerge from this chronic violence as a viable and stable country."