The Associated Press
Tuesday, August 7, 2007; 12:43 PM
WASHINGTON -- The number of U.S. troops in Iraq has temporarily peaked at its highest level ever as new units arrive to replace those packing up and leaving, the Pentagon said Tuesday.
The size of the force is nearly 162,000, slightly surpassing the 161,000 troop level for the Iraqi elections in 2005, said Defense Department spokesman Bryan Whitman.
There is always a temporary bulge in the number of troops when one unit is leaving and handing off to its replacement unit.
The number of troops had been at about 155,000 to 159,000 for some time because of the escalation ordered by President Bush in January.
"There is no change to the level of effort and the combat power that we are projecting into Iraq," Whitman said. He noted that the force will remain at the 20 combat brigades and their support units sent in the escalation aimed at calming violence in Baghdad.
Troops levels were raised in January 2005 during Iraq's first elections, and then returned to about 138,000 several weeks later. The number spiked later that year at 161,000 as officials sent extra security for vote on Iraq's new constitution.