1,500 more troops headed for Iraq
From Larry Shaughnessy
Paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division board a C-130 for a training exercise in this April 2005 photo.
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- More troops are headed to Iraq, this time 1,500 paratroopers to temporarily boost military strength during the fall election, the Pentagon has announced.
Two battalions of the 82nd Airborne Division will deploy in mid-September from their home base of Fort Bragg, North Carolina. The deployment will include the 2nd Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment (AIR) and the 3rd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR).
This is the third time the United States has raised troop levels during political milestones in Iraq. Similar increases were made during the June 2004 transfer to Iraqi sovereignty and during January's elections.
This deployment and last week's announcement of another increase will raise the troop level to at least 140,000.
During previous increases, some troops were kept in Iraq past their expected departure date, while others were brought to Iraq early. Such action brought the numbers there up to nearly 160,000 in January. Military officials said such a large increase is unlikely this time but acknowledged that further reinforcements are possible and under consideration.
Last month an additional battalion of U.S. troops was sent to Afghanistan to help provide security for the September elections.
The Pentagon's announcement Wednesday came on the day President Bush told military families and troops in Idaho that withdrawing from Iraq would be a mistake. (Full story)
Insurgents in Baghdad also launched a brazen afternoon attack against police checkpoints, killing 14 people and leaving dozens wounded. (Full story)
Meanwhile, Iraq's draft constitution remains a controversial document, the major bone of contention being federalism. Government leaders have imposed a deadline of Thursday midnight for talks to bridge gaps of agreement.
Hachim al-Hasani, transitional assembly speaker, said: "We have had talks yesterday and today, reaching out for satisfactory solutions for everybody. This will enable us to go to the referendum on October 15, and say 'Yes' to this constitution."
If the draft constitution wins approval in the referendum, there will be an election for a permanent government at the end of the year.
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