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Thursday, July 5, 2007

U.S. expecting 10,000 'surge' in Iraqi troops

BAGHDAD The U.S. military expects a significant increase in the size of the Iraq Army.

Officials said U.S. military training programs were churning out thousands of Iraq Army recruits, Middle East Newsline reported. They said that by early July, at least 10,000 newly-trained recruits would enter service.

"In the next two weeks, some 10,000 new soldiers will join their Iraqi brothers in the ranks of Iraq's army," U.S. military spokesman Brig. Gen. Kevin Bergner said. "And the prime minister is also looking at options to further expand the size of the Iraqi security forces to meet the requirements both today and into the future."

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In a briefing on June 27, Bergner said the Iraqi Defense Ministry was conducting a series of training courses simultaneously in an effort to accelerate force development. He said the forces would join U.S. units in such provinces as Anbar, Baghdad and Diyala.

"The government of Iraq is also looking at local solutions to improve security at the local level," Bergner said.

Officials said many of the new troops would be sent to Diyala, whose Iraq Army commander has appealed for additional forces. Diyala has been used as a venue to support Al Qaida operations in Baghdad.

Bergner said Iraqi government would try to recruit local groups to help battle Al Qaida. He said the effort to mobilize Sunni tribes in Anbar has been successful and could be used for other provinces.

"You have seen some of the result of that in Anbar province," Bergner said. "And so we're working with the prime minister, with the government of Iraq and with the people at the local level, to include tribal leaders, to help bring that all together in such a way that those who want to turn against the extremists, whether they be Al Qaida or otherwise, are encouraged to do so. And when it involves helping them fight, they are quickly organized into formations that can be brought into the Iraqi police or the Iraqi army and placed under the legitimate authority of the government of Iraq, and that involves vetting, it involves an accountability process, it involves training to ensure they can truly accomplish the purpose that those forces need to serve."

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