Army Brigade Headed to Kuwait

Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, December 28, 2006; Page A24

A brigade of U.S. Army troops is scheduled to deploy to Kuwait early next month to take over as the U.S. Central Command's theater reserve force, which means more than 3,000 additional U.S. troops will move into the region and could be used to support combat in Iraq, Pentagon officials announced yesterday.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates approved sending the 2nd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division overseas after Gen. John P. Abizaid, who leads Central Command, requested the forces to replace the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, which was sent into the western province of Anbar this fall. Abizaid requested a brigade -- which is significantly larger than the Marine unit -- to allow for greater flexibility in the region.

While defense officials have said the move is not part of an orchestrated "surge" of forces into Iraq, should such a surge become part of U.S. strategy for the war, the Army brigade could be used as the leading edge of a troop increase.

Also yesterday, the U.S. military announced the deaths of three U.S. service members. A Marine assigned to Regimental Combat Team 5 died yesterday during fighting in Anbar. A soldier died in a vehicle rollover during a reconnaissance mission south of the capital Tuesday. And a soldier with the 13th Sustainment Command died as a result of noncombat injuries on a U.S. military base about 50 miles north of Baghdad Saturday.

[On Thursday, the U.S. military said that three soldiers were killed in and around Baghdad Wednesday, Reuters reported. Two were killed when a roadside bomb hit a foot patrol. The third died when a separate bomb exploded near a patrol on a route clearance mission.]

Meanwhile, two Iranians remained in custody Wednesday after being detained during a raid by U.S.-led forces on Dec. 21. Ten people were captured in the raid, in Baghdad, according to Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell, the top U.S. military spokesman in Iraq.

Caldwell said troops found documents, maps, photographs and videos indicating that some of the detainees were involved in illegal activities. He did not specify what those were. Three other Iranians were detained on Dec. 20 but were released to the Iraqi government. The incident had sparked a flurry of diplomatic activity by Iraqi officials to secure their release.

Trejos reported from Baghdad.

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