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Deployment plans keep US forces in Iraq level into 2009: Pentagon

by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) May 19, 2008
The Pentagon announced troop deployment plans Monday aimed at keeping US forces in Iraq level at around 140,000 troops through most of 2009.

Seven combat brigades, or about 39,000 troops, were identified for deployment in late 2008 as replacements for brigades coming out of Iraq.

"All of these forces that we're talking about today are replacement forces," Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said. "This is designed to continue to maintain the same level of efforts."

Currently, there are 155,000 troops in Iraq, including 17 combat brigades.

US force levels are supposed to fall to 15 combat brigades, or about 140,000 troops, by the end of July with the conclusion of a "surge" in US forces.

General David Petraeus, the top US commander in Iraq, has insisted that troop cuts be frozen at the end of July for at least 45 days to allow for a reassessment.

US Defense Secretary Robert Gates has voiced hopes of further troop cutbacks, but any decision to reduce forces below 15 brigades would have to come from the eight later deploying brigades.

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Key architect of Iraq war defends case for US-led invasion
Washington (AFP) May 19, 2008
An influential architect of the war in Iraq defended the case for US military action on Monday, saying the failure to find weapons of mass destruction did not mean the decision to invade was a mistake.

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