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Fresh American troops arriving in Iraq
(Agencies)
Updated: 2004-11-01 11:35

A brigade of fresh U.S. troops arriving in Baghdad will push the total U.S. troop presence in the Iraqi capital to an estimated 40,000 by Monday, as planners prepare for an expected assault on insurgent hotspots to the west and for Iraqi elections in January.

Army units slated to depart were being held back until after the elections, causing the overall number of U.S. troops in Iraq to swell to around 142,000, the highest level since the summer of 2003.

At Camp Victory North, the sprawling headquarters of the Army's 1st Cavalry Division, the mess hall and housing trailers were brimming to capacity with the arrival of the 3,700-member Louisiana-based 256th Enhanced Separate Brigade, a National Guard unit that has been rolling into the Iraqi capital over the past few days.

The arrival of the 256th was supposed to have been timed with the departure of the 1st Cavalry's 2nd Brigade, which was scheduled to prepare to return to Fort Hood, Texas, in November. But the Pentagon delayed the 2nd Brigade's departure by two months, military officials said.

Iraq's impending elections and expected offensives in Iraq's western Anbar province were expected to soak up much of the extra U.S. combat power.

About 850 British troops, mostly from the Black Watch regiment, have taken positions south of Baghdad, allowing U.S. Marines once stationed there to reposition in Anbar province, home of guerrilla strongholds of Fallujah, Ramadi, Hit and Husaybah.

The troop boost leaves Maj. Gen. Peter Chiarelli, commander of the 1st Cavalry, in charge of eight Army brigades, or more than 32,000 soldiers. Baghdad is also home to the 89th Military Police Brigade and other units reporting to the Army's III Corps, which runs the war.

The five elemental brigades of Chiarelli's division were expected to begin the process of pulling out of Iraq in late January, after the return of the Army's Georgia-based 3rd Infantry Division, which arrives for its second tour in Iraq. The 3rd Infantry led the charge to Baghdad and captured the city in April 2003.

Three brigades under Chiarelli's command will stay behind in Iraq: the 256th, the Arkansas-based 39th Enhanced Separate Brigade and the 2nd Brigade of the Army's 10th Mountain Division, based at Fort Drum, N.Y.

Also staying longer will be 3,000 soldiers of the Tikrit-based 1st Infantry Division headquarters. They previously were to have been replaced in January, before the elections, by incoming troops from the 42nd Infantry Division, New York National Guard.

Early next year, the Army's III Corps will transfer control of overall war fighting duties in Iraq to the 18th Airborne Corps, based in Fort Bragg, N.C.

Even as it builds up its forces here, the U.S. military has softened one of its more aggressive symbols.

The Army has renamed 17 of its bases in and around the Iraqi capital, dropping cocky names like Camp Steel Dragon for more benign ones like Camp Honor.

Gone also is Camp Headhunter, Camp Banzai, Camp Warhorse and Camp Gunslinger. Since mid-September, those bases have been renamed camps Independence, Justice, Freedom and Solidarity.

The new names have been given Arabic translations, which have become the official titles that now appear on signs and news releases.

Already, on Camp Victory North, now renamed Camp Liberty, signs declare that travelers have entered Camp Al-Tahreer or Camp Liberation.



 
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