CommunityPam's House Blend

The Pentagon screws another 6,500 soldiers by extending their tours of duty. There’s also fear of more violence by the insurgents. The The New York Times reports that the Department of Defense is thinking of increasing forces by as many as 15,000, but they haven’t moved on this yet (probably pending the election). I hope all those Bush voters are packing the bags of all their draft-age kids. They’re next.

The Pentagon has ordered about 6,500 soldiers in Iraq to extend their tours, the first step the military has taken to increase its combat power there in preparation for the January elections, senior Defense Department officials said Friday.

About 3,500 members of the Second Brigade of the First Cavalry Division will stay in Iraq two months longer than initially ordered, and about 3,000 soldiers assigned to headquarters and support units of the First Infantry Division will have their tours extended by two and a half weeks.

While Pentagon officials and military officers previously had left open the possibility that additional troops would be required to battle a tenacious insurgency ahead of the elections, they had also expressed hopes that new Iraqi security forces or foreign units might fill the need. The decision to extend the stay of American forces in Iraq at a time when replacement troops also are arriving means a significant increase in the overall American combat presence for the first time since the summer.

No other extensions have been approved, and no units now preparing for Iraq duty have been ordered to speed up their departure, according to Pentagon and military officials.

But senior Defense Department officials said they had considered plans that would allow the American military in Iraq to quickly increase its forces by as many as three brigades – a total of as many as 15,000 troops, the combat power of a traditional Army division – but that no steps had been taken other than the extensions discussed Friday.

The Islamic holy month of Ramadan has already prompted a 25 percent increase in daily attacks, according to Pentagon officials. But these officials said they had seen no indication yet of a major insurgent offensive like the one a year ago. But military commanders said they must prepare for a guerrilla offensive that could come in November or December, as voter registration gets under way in earnest, or for attacks timed to the elections in January.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding