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In April, Gen. Petraeus said at a roundtable meeting with reporters that he wanted 45 days to evaluate the security conditions in Iraq before deciding which troops to withdraw.

Under the plan announced yesterday, the United States could keep 15 brigades in Iraq through the end of the year, as voters elect a new president.

The deployment announcement involves one division headquarters and seven brigade combat teams.

National Guard units from Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Texas also were alerted that they will be deployed to Iraq.

Units “are receiving alert orders now in order to provide them the maximum time to complete their preparations,” the Defense Department announcement said. “It also provides a greater measure of predictability for family members and flexibility for employers to plan for military service of their employees.”