Pentagon To Alert National Guard Troops For Possible 2008 Iraq Tours

Thursday, April 5th 2007, 7:28 pm
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Several National Guard brigades are expected to be notified soon that they could be sent to Iraq around the first of next year, according to a senior Defense Department official.

If their assignment to Iraq is ultimately approved by Defense Secretary Robert Gates, it would be the first time full Guard combat brigades were sent back to Iraq for a second tour.

The units would serve as replacement forces in the regular unit rotation for the war, and would not be connected to the recent military build-up for security operations in Baghdad. Defense Secretary Robert Gates is expected to sign the notices alerting the Guard troops shortly, said the official, who requested anonymity because the information has not yet been released.

``You will start to see reserve component forces coming back into the rotation,'' said the official, adding that the notices are being done now in order to give the Guard units as much time as possible to prepare.

Guard officials told The Associated Press in February that they had contingency plans to send at least two Guard combat brigades back to Iraq in 2008 for their second yearlong tour of duty.

While it is not clear yet which units would be alerted, they would likely include brigades that were among the first to go to Iraq early in the war. Some of those include brigades from North Carolina, Florida, Arkansas and Indiana.

Smaller units and individual troops from the Guard have already returned to Iraq for longer periods, and some active duty units have served multiple tours. A brigade is roughly 3,500 troops.