WASHINGTON — The Defense Department announced Monday that it will send seven combat brigades to Iraq by the end of the year, suggesting that the Pentagon is planning to maintain its troop levels in Iraq through next year.
The military also alerted four National Guard Army brigades, or roughly 14,000 troops, to prepare for deployments to Iraq beginning next spring. A fifth National Guard brigade, Vermont's 86th Brigade Combat Team, is scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan in the spring of 2010, the Pentagon announced.
Those National Guard brigades and the roughly 25,000 active-duty soldiers will replace brigades finishing their deployments in Iraq. In addition, the military said a headquarters division, the 25th Division, will deploy this fall.
The deployments indicate a plan to keep 15 combat brigades, or roughly 140,000 troops, in Iraq through 2009. Many Pentagon officials hope to get at least one more brigade out of Iraq by the end of the year, saying sustained deployments are straining an already stressed Army.
The deploying brigades will be among the first to resume serving 12-month deployments. To support the surge strategy, the U.S. military had extended deployments to 15 months.
apology from u.s.: The No. 2 U.S. commander in Iraq, Lt. Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, apologized to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi in an attempt to soothe anger over an American sniper using a copy of the Koran for target practice. Hashemi expressed his appreciation for the visit but asked for a written apology from the U.S. military. The U.S. military said Sunday it had disciplined the sniper and removed him from Iraq.
Violence: Suspected Sunni insurgents ambushed a minibus carrying Iraqi police recruits near the Syrian border, killing all 11 passengers, Iraqi officials said — the first deadly attack since Iraqi forces launched a major sweep in the region.
Arrest: Iraqi officials said they had arrested a man suspected of being al-Qaida in Iraq's chief leader in Mosul, Abdul-Khaliq al-Sabawi. The U.S. military said it was looking into the report. Reports of high-level al-Qaida in Iraq arrests in the past have sometimes proven inaccurate.