Thursday, July 10, 2003


They deserve to come home and take a long breather.

But now I get concerned as to who replaces them. They have been covering some of the most volatile areas in Iraq.

The Army's 3rd Infantry Division is beginning a phased pullout of its 16,000 troops, with the entire unit expected back in the United States by September, he said. The division, which played a central role in capturing Baghdad in April, is based at Fort Stewart, Ga.

Rumsfeld said the division's 3rd Brigade has already reached Kuwait and will be heading home this month. The 2nd Brigade, which had been in the region for 10 months, will be home in August and the 1st Brigade will return in September. He said each of the final two brigades to leave Iraq will have been in the Gulf region for 10 months by the time they depart.

In the immediate aftermath of the toppling of Saddam's government in April, it was expected that the 3rd Infantry Division would go home by June. But the soldiers were kept longer because of a surge of anti-U.S. violence in Baghdad and elsewhere in central Iraq.

Rumsfeld said there are now 148,000 American troops in Iraq. He did not say whether the 3rd Infantry Division would be replaced by another U.S. unit, although he said he expects thousands of international soldiers to begin operating in the country by late summer or early fall.

On the flip side, however...this redeployment (coming home) by the 3d ID doesn't happen in a vacuum. It will be part of a larger, overall strategy called a rotation plan.

So, it is just possible that any day now we might get a glimpse of that rotation strategy...and have some idea when our girl might head home.

However, I can guarantee you this. It won't be soon enough.

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