Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Analysis: Once Prohibited, Guard Units Now Returning to Iraq

Soldiers of the Wyoming Army National Guard Police Transition Team Soldiers listen to the morning convoy brief at Forward Operating Base Warrior in March

The Army's announcement Monday that four Army National Guard brigades--totaling more than 12,000 troops--are headed to Iraq marks the first time that any full brigade combat team has returned to the country for a second tour.

National Guard soldiers currently account for 11 percent of the roughly 145,000 troops now serving in Iraq. (Reservists comprise about 6 percent of the total troops.) Though the return of the brigades will mark a significant increase in National Guard presence now in the country, it is not a high-water mark for Guard units in Iraq. That came in 2004, when Guard troops made up some 40 percent of the 120,000 soldiers and Marines then in-country.

The return of the brigades came as no surprise to military analysts, who had been anticipating a greater Guard call-up as the ranks of the active-duty Army and Marine Corps have been increasingly stretched by multitple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Read the rest at US News and World Report