Turning Another Corner
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. military is delaying the departure of thousands of soldiers from Iraq while speeding the arrival of thousands more as a way to keep more troops on the ground to handle unrelenting violence, U.S. officials said on Monday.
The United States, in a bid to stem a rise in sectarian violence between Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims that has heightened concern over civil war, has increased its troop count in the past two months to the current level of 142,000.
A brigade of roughly 3,800 soldiers from the Army's 1st Armored Division, based in Germany, that was due to have left Iraq in January is being held in place for a little under two months, said defense officials who asked not to be named because the decision has not been formally announced.
These soldiers, serving in the volatile Ramadi area, are now set to serve roughly 13 months in Iraq, longer than the U.S. policy of 12-month tours of duty for Army soldiers, an official said.
Meanwhile, a similarly sized Texas-based Army brigade of the 1st Cavalry Division is being sent to Iraq about a month earlier than previously scheduled, and should be leaving in October, an official said.