Friday, March 02, 2007

Second of five additional brigades now in Baghdad for troop 'surge'

Members of the 4th Brigade, 1st Infantry Division on patrol during an earlier deployment.

While Congress and the White House continue sparring over President Bush’s troop increase for Baghdad, the second of five planned additional U.S. brigades has arrived in Iraq’s capital.

Some 3,100 soldiers with the 4th Brigade, 1st Infantry Division have “completed their movement into Iraq” and will “assist Iraqi Security Forces in stemming sectarian violence and protecting its citizens,” the U.S. military command announced Thursday.

The brigade is the second of five tapped by the Pentagon to carry out Bush’s “surge” of American troops in Baghdad. The 2nd Brigade, 82nd Airborne arrived at a base in east Baghdad in mid-January.

In Washington, Army Secretary Francis Harvey said Thursday that the additional 21,500-troop plus-up tempo, which calls for moving one brigade each month to Iraq, has the service “probably at the optimum right now” in terms of how quickly it can get the extra soldiers to the field.

“I think we’re optimized,” Harvey told reporters. “Nobody goes unless they’re trained and equipped. That’s the red line.”

However, “If it was super-serious, we’d have to reconsider,” Harvey said. “But [for now], we’re saying our basic, fundamental principal is that nobody, no unit, goes over unless they’re fully trained and equipped. And that’s what we’re doing.

Read the rest at Stars and Stripes