U.S. to deploy 3,000 additional Marines to Iraq

Monday, December 1, 2003

The United States has decided to commit additional troops to battle the insurgency in Iraq. The decision represents a change of plans to reduce the U.S. force in Iraq next year.

U.S. officials said at least 3,000 fresh troops would be sent to Iraq over the coming months. They said the troops would be from the Marine Corps.

Three marine battalions will be sent to Iraq under a decision by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, officials said. The United States has about 132,000 troops in Iraq and planned to reduce this number to 105,000 by May 2004.

But the Pentagon decision was expected to result in a deployment of 110,000 U.S. troops in mid-2004.

"The decision to deploy these additional units is the result of further detail planning," a Pentagon statement said.

Officials said the new troops will be sent to Iraq in 2004. They have been allocated as part of the mobilization of 9,900 army soldiers, 1,290 navy personnel and 3,208 members of the air force. In all, the Pentagon has identified the deployment of 56,504 troops for rotation in 2004.

"This announcement is intended to foster the orderly and systematic rotation of troops into and out of the Central Command area of operations," a Pentagon statement said. "This rotation is designed to allow for the maximum overlap between forces currently deployed and replacement units."

The Pentagon decision was announced hours before Sunni insurgents attacked the Italian mission in Baghdad with a rocket-propelled grenade.

Nobody was injured in the Nov. 27 attack. Later, a U.S. Army convoy was bombed north of Baghdad. Nobody was injured.

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