Gen. Jack Keane said that most units deploying to Iraq over the next few months can expect stays of up to one year when he announced the unit rotation schedule July 23.
What we have done is taken (Gen. John Abizaids) requirements and his needs, and looked at the forces in Iraq, and devised a plan to meet those needs, said Keane, the acting Army chief of Staff. Abizaid is the commander of Central Command.
Heres how the rotation schedule for Iraq currently looks:
- The 82nd Airborne Division will replace the 3rd Infantry Division by September. Only one brigade and the division headquarters from the 82nd Airborne will deploy to Iraq. Two of the divisions brigades are currently deployed, one is in Afghanistan and the one in Iraq will re-deploy by January.
- The 1st Infantry Division will deploy from Germany to replace the 4th Infantry Division by April.
- The 1st Cavalry Division will replace both the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment and the 1st Armored Division by April.
- The Armys first Stryker Brigade Combat Team, the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, will replace the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment by March 2004.
- The 173rd Airborne Brigade will re-deploy back to Italy by April.
- A multinational division will replace the 101st Airborne Division by February.
- Two Army National Guard Enhanced Separate Brigade Teams will deploy with the 1st ID and the 1st Cavalry. Keane didnt name the Guard units tapped for deployment, though.
Note: In a separate news release, dated July 26th, 2003, the Army has announced that it has alerted two National Guard Enhanced Separate Brigades that may participate in the Iraq deployment schedule. The units are the 30th Infantry Brigade from North Carolina and the 39th Infantry Brigade from Arkansas. The 30th will be augmented with soldiers from the 27th Infantry Brigade from New York, and the 39th will be augmented with personnel from the 41st Infantry Brigade from Oregon.
The one exception to the 12-month deployments are the Guard brigades, said Keane. They will be mobilized for one year but will spend six months in Iraq.
Deployments beyond that one-year period are still being looked at, said Keane and Maj. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the vice-director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Keane said it was important to understand the three guidelines that are driving the new Iraq rotation policy.
Abizaid needs a force large enough to defeat the guerilla movements that threaten securing Iraq.
To do that, a predictable number of soldiers on the ground are needed. An intended rotation plan of 12 months was the solution to that, Keane said.
Recognizing that most units deploying to Iraq will come from the Army, the military wants to use active-duty units from all branches of the U.S. military, said Keane. Engineer units from the Air Force or Navy might be deployed in place of Army engineer units, he explained.
The schedule will also allow the use of Reserve volunteers and reserve-component units that havent been mobilized recently to balance the stress across the board, Keane said.
The Army also wanted to have units ready for the war on terrorism and other contingencies like North Korea, Keane said.
Eliminating or reducing participation in exercises and other commitments is a part of that, he said.
Internationalizing the force in Iraq is also a goal of the U.S., he said. British and Italian army units are already on the ground with more nations contributing later.
Other nations like Poland and the Netherlands are sending troops and more nations can be expected to contribute later this year, said Keane and McChrystal.
The new U.S. units sent to Iraq will also assist the Coalition Provisional Authority in developing the new Iraqi police force, provincial defense force and national army, he said.
Once those Iraqi units are established, most of the security tasks will be handed over to them as quickly as possible, Keane said.