WASHINGTON, June 30, 2008 – The Defense Department has alerted six combat units for deployment to Iraq from January to March 2009, officials said here today. Though the announcement identifies forces for the current level of effort in Iraq, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said, it does not try to predict decisions down the road.

“It’s proper, prudent planning to give units the time to train and to ensure they are notified in a deliberate fashion and well in advance of when they would have to deploy,” Whitman said.

The four Army combat brigades and two Marine regimental combat teams cover about 33,000 personnel. These are normal rotation forces, and all of the units have the capability of performing full-spectrum combat operations.

The Marine units notified today are Regimental Combat Team 8 and Regimental Combat Team 6, both based in Camp Lejeune, N.C.

The Army units are the 1st Cavalry Division’s 1st and 2nd brigade combat teams, based at Fort Hood, Texas; the 10th Mountain Division’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team, based at Fort Drum, N.Y.; and 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team of the Pennsylvania National Guard’s 28th Infantry Division.

The announcement for the 12-month deployments assumes a force level of 15 brigade combat teams in Iraq. “This is a planning effort for maintaining a 15-combat-brigade level,” Whitman said.

“That doesn’t mean decisions down the road couldn’t affect this,” he added. “You can always have units that redeploy earlier and deploy later. This is a planning effort to sustain the current level of operations.”

The last surge brigade will leave Iraq by the end of July. Some 45 days later, officials in Iraq, U.S. Central Command and the Pentagon will assess conditions in Iraq “post-surge,” Whitman said. Decisions after that review could affect deployments, he said.

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