- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 26, 2003


Several thousand additional Marines will go to Iraq next year, the Pentagon said yesterday in an update that indicated the total U.S. force won’t be reduced as much as planned.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld also approved the mobilization of 9,900 Army, 1,290 Navy and 3,208 Air Force Reserve personnel for the rotation, which will begin in January to replace the 130,000 troops who will be completing one-year tours of duty in Iraq.

Mr. Rumsfeld also put on alert 4,228 Army, 1,290 Navy and 2,381 Air Force reservists, letting them know they may be mobilized for duty in Iraq. The specific units alerted and mobilized yesterday were not disclosed; the Pentagon says they can expect to be on active duty for up to 18 months.

The Pentagon had announced on Nov. 6 most of the details of its rotation plan, which called for relying more heavily on the National Guard and Reserve, while reducing the total number of American troops to about 105,000 by the time the rotation is completed in May.

Although no numbers were provided by the Pentagon, it appears the total number by May will be closer to 110,000, counting the additional Marines.

For reasons not explained in the announcement yesterday, the Pentagon said it had decided to send an additional three battalions of Marines. Those would be beyond the 20,000 that were designated Nov. 6. The initial group of 20,000 is headed by the 1st Marine Division, from Camp Pendleton, Calif.

Yesterday’s announcement did not say how many Marines would be in the three battalions.

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