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Two US Infantry Battalions Ordered To Iraq: Pentagon

Pentagon officials have said the extra troops were part of a broader plan to swell the size of the US force to around 160,000 during the election period to counter intensifying insurgent violence.

Washington (AFP) Aug 25, 2005
US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on Wednesday ordered two battalions from the Army's 82nd Airborne Division to deploy to Iraq for 120 days to beef up security for the elections, the Pentagon said.

General George Casey, the commander of US forces in Iraq, requested the extra 1,500 active duty troops which will join a US force that now stands at around 138,000.

"Two battalions from the 82nd Airborne Division will deploy to Iraq for an anticipated duration of approximately 120 days to support security efforts during the election period," the Pentagon said in a statement.

"This approved request temporarily adds an additional 1,500 active duty soldiers to the troop level in Iraq," it said.

Rumsfeld had said on Tuesday that the deployment was in the offing.

The units were identified as the the 2nd Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, and the 3rd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment.

Both units have previously served in Iraq, one of them during the January 30 elections, the military said.

Pentagon officials have said the extra troops were part of a broader plan to swell the size of the US force to around 160,000 during the election period to counter intensifying insurgent violence.

To achieve, that military officials are likely to either extend the stay of some units that were scheduled to come home before the end of the year, and send other units to Iraq somewhat sooner than expected.

The Pentagon has already deployed an extra battalion to Afghanistan for the September 18 parliamentary elections there, raising the US force there to some

Iraqi leaders were still struggling Wednesday to complete a draft constitution acceptable to Sunnis as well as Shiites and Kurds.

A referendum on the constitution is supposed to be held October 15, clearing the way for December 15 elections to choose a new national government.

Rumsfeld warned Tuesday, however, that "regrettably, completing the constitution is not likely to end all the violence in Iraq or solve all of the country's problems."

Sunnis have so far bitterly rejected the constitutional draft, fearing they will lose out under a decentralized federated system that leaves the country's two oil producing regions under control of Shiites and Kurds.

Political polarization coupled with insurgent attacks have raised the prospect of intensifying violence.

Supporters of radical Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr, who opposes the federal system, clashed with locals in the southern city of Najaf on Wednesday, killing five people, and his Mehdi militia were reported to have moved into Shiite neighborhoods in Baghdad.

On Tuesday, Rumsfeld discounted the threat of civil war, telling reporters, "It hasn't happened yet. It is not happening now."

"And, obviously, it is something that one has to be attentive to and be concerned about. But I haven't seen anything to indicate that the risk is greater today than it was yesterday or the day before," he said.

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Outside View: U.S. Getting Tired In Iraq
New York (UPI) Aug 25, 2005
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