Thursday, May 20, 2004


The U.S. Army is finding soldiers for duty in Iraq wherever it can find them, and that includes places and people long considered off-limits.

The Army confirmed on Tuesday that it pulled the files of some 17,000 people in the Individual Ready Reserve, the nation's pool of former soldiers. It has been screening them for needed specialists and has called about 100 of them since January.

Under authorization from Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, the Army could call as many as 6,500 back on active duty involuntarily.

"Yes we are screening them and, yes, we are calling some of them up," an Army spokesman, Col. Joseph Curtin, told Knight Ridder.

"We need certain specialties, including civil affairs, military police, some advanced medical specialists, such as orthopedic surgeons, psychological operations, military intelligence interrogators."...

It is also considering a plan to close its premier training center at Fort Irwin in California so the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, the much-vaunted Opposition Force against which the Army's tank divisions hone their combat skills, would be available for combat in Iraq.

No decision has been made on that plan.

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