|WASHINGTON, June 21, 2006
Yesterday's announcement of deployment orders for Iraq issued to
four more combat brigades should not be viewed as an indicator
of future force levels there, a top Defense Department spokesman
said here today.
The deployment orders allow commanders in Iraq to have
flexibility in capabilities available to them, but actual
decisions about units deploying will be made after further,
careful consideration of the situation on the ground, Bryan
Whitman, deputy assistant defense secretary for public affairs,
"You want to notify units as early as you can, but you
want to do it within the framework that you also maintain the
maximum amount of flexibility given that you have changing and
evolving situations in Iraq," Whitman told reporters.
"Our principles will remain the same: that the size of
the U.S. force presence in Iraq will be based on the conditions
on the ground," he added. "It'll be determined through
continual assessments made by the commanders on the ground and
recommendations made to the secretary of defense and the
DoD officials announced yesterday that 21,000 more troops,
including four Army combat brigades, had been alerted for
service in Iraq. However, Whitman explained today, that number
could change significantly up or down depending on
recommendations from Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr., commander of
Multinational Force Iraq.
Whitman said an assessment and a recommendation on troop
levels were expected from Casey soon.
Defense officials have revised over time the method in which
they handle troop rotations in Iraq. Whitman explained that
major rotations of most of the combat forces in country are a
thing of the past. DoD officials realize this operational notion
stresses logistics assets and doesn't provide the most
Leaders instead now alert several units and have them in the
pipeline, prepared to go, when and if they are needed to replace
a unit that is redeploying or to provide a surge capability.
Units that may deploy need to know as far in advance as possible
to prepare families, adjust training schedules and stabilize
personnel. However, final decisions on moving troops are delayed
as long as possible to give commanders flexibility to deal with
sometimes rapidly shifting operational situations.
Because of this, some units that are alerted may deploy later
than anticipated or not at all, Whitman said. As an example, he
pointed to the 2nd Brigade of the 1st Infantry Division, based
in Schweinfurt, Germany. Officials announced in November that
the unit was slated for deployment, but the unit is still in
Germany. Based on conditions on the ground, commanders so far
have decided they haven't needed the additional combat
capability the unit would provide.
"This construct allows us to ready forces, to have them
prepared, but yet to be flexible and adaptable to a dynamic
situation that exists," Whitman said.