Baghdad Attack Leaders to Return to Iraq
By RUSS BYNUM
The Associated Press
Thursday, March 4, 2004; 2:58 PM
SAVANNAH, Ga. - The Army division that spearheaded the assault on Baghdad has been ordered to get ready to return to Iraq as early as November.
The announcement Thursday comes just six months after most members of the 3rd Infantry Division returned to Fort Stewart from the war. The new deployment is expected between November and February 2005.
"All the specifics of what mission they'll want us to do and how many of us they want and those kinds of details will follow in future orders," Fort Stewart spokesman Lt. Col. Cliff Kent said.
The Army has few other options for future Iraq rotations than the 3rd Infantry, said Lt. Col. Chris Rodney, an Army spokesman at the Pentagon.
About 110,000 fresh troops are now headed to Iraq to replace 130,000 soldiers who are being sent home amid the largest troop rotation since World War II.
"It's kind of simple math right now. Who's left?" he said. "There's no other division that is not moving right now or fully engaged."
The 3rd Infantry sent 16,500 troops with tanks and armored Bradley vehicles to lead the assault on Baghdad when the war began last March.
The announcement comes as no surprise: The 3rd Infantry has never sat idle for long.
Soldiers had a short break from peacekeeping in Bosnia and Kosovo during 2000 and 2001 before some of its units were deployed to Kuwait in October 2002 for training exercises that quickly turned to war preparation.
When Maj. Gen. William G. Webster took command of Fort Stewart in September, he said a second deployment to the war zone was possible.
"We already know that they're going (somewhere), especially here at Fort Stewart," said Kim James, whose husband, Sgt. 1st Class Joseph James, returned from Iraq in July. "You're lucky if they're here about a year without going anywhere."
© 2004 The Associated Press