Sun, Sep 28, 2003 - Page 1 News List

US readies 15,000 more reserve troops

REUTERS , WASHINGTON

The US on Friday activated 10,000 National Guard troops for service in Iraq and put another 5,000 on alert for likely call-up after its appeal for foreign military help met no immediate response.

The 30th Infantry Brigade from North Carolina and the 39th Infantry Brigade from Arkansas, each with 5,000 soldiers, were ordered to join the active duty force on Oct. 1 and Oct. 12 respectively. They will undergo about three months of training before going to Iraq early next year for a full year.

The army also put the 5,000-strong 81st National Guard Brigade from Washington State on notice for a likely call to active duty in Iraq.

The call-up of the part-time solders from North Carolina and Arkansas for duty in Iraq -- where the US already has 130,000 troops -- was expected because they had earlier been alerted for probable duty.

The new alert order for the Washington State brigade followed statements by top US officers this week that more National Guard and Reserve troops would likely be needed because of reluctance on the part of other countries to answer US President George W. Bush's call for help in stabilizing the country.

Marine Corps General Peter Pace, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the nation's second-ranking officer, said on Wednesday that additional call-ups would depend on whether other nations responded to Bush's appeal for troops and on the speed with which Iraqi forces could be trained to help shoulder the burden.

"I would think that by around the end of October, the beginning of November, we should be alerting those [US] forces that may need to be called up ... to relieve or be prepared to relieve if we don't have specificity by then on a third coalition division," the general said.

There are currently two other multinational divisions in Iraq headed by Britain and Poland. The US is pressing for volunteers to form a third multinational division, but so far they have not come forward.

Reserve and Guard troops are supporting regular US forces in deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, which have put a strain on America's armed forces. Some 20,000 of the "weekend warriors" are in Iraq and in nearby states.

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