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Iraq Transition

Defense Department gives details of troop increase

Story Highlights

Bush tells Fort Benning troops sacrifices lie ahead
Mostly silence as Bush gives speech; finishes to standing ovation
• Defense Secretary Gates says military needs 92,000 more troops in next 5 years
• Bush called for major changes to address "unacceptable" situation in Iraq
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FORT BENNING, Georgia (CNN) -- As President Bush tried to sell his new plan for Iraq to Congress and the American public, new details emerged about which troops will be deployed.

The Department of Defense released a list Thursday of the military units that will be part of the 20,000 additional troops Bush says will help gain control of Iraq.

Brigades based in North Carolina, Georgia, Kansas, and Washington state will be sent. (Which troops will be affected)

Bush also has ordered the deployment of an additional carrier strike group to the region.

The 1st Brigade, 34th Infantry Division of the Minnesota Army National Guard will extend its current tour of duty for up to 125 days and will redeploy no later than August.

Also, the Marine Corps will extend two reinforced infantry battalions for about 60 days.

To implement the Bush plan, which he outlined in a speech to the nation Wednesday night, officials said soldiers will spend three or four months longer on their Iraq tours, and the Pentagon is expected to have to activate more National Guard and Reserve units.

Bush visits Fort Benning

There was mostly silence as Bush talked to soldiers and families at Fort Benning, Georgia, Thursday.

The only clapping came when he mentioned the goal of increasing the overall strength of the U.S. Army, but Bush received a standing ovation after his talk.

"This is a place that has a long tradition for turning civilians into highly skilled soldiers. And I can't thank you enough for the contribution you're making to the security of this country," Bush said.

He singled out Army Rangers from the 3rd Battalion, 75th Regiment for their fighting in Afghanistan and the 3rd Brigade Combat Team of the 3rd Infantry Division for leading the way into Baghdad.

Bush said that he had thought Iraq was on the way to stability after the country's 2005 elections, which drew about 12 million voters.

He also told the nation Wednesday, "Where mistakes have been made, the responsibility rests with me."

At Fort Benning, Bush said there had been "remarkable progress," in Iraq but "2006 turned out differently than I anticipated.

"And it did because there's an enemy there that recognizes that the advance of freedom is in contrast to their hopes and their dreams," Bush said.

"The situation in Iraq is difficult, no question about it."

He repeated a warning from Wednesday's speech: If the U.S. abandons Iraq, extremists there would be emboldened and use the nation as a launching pad for attacks against America.

Bush reminded the troops that it would be a long process.

"The American people have got to understand that suicide bombings won't stop immediately. The IED attacks won't stop immediately. Yet over time we can expect to see positive results.

"And that would be the Iraqis chasing down the murderers. That there will be fewer brazen acts of terror inside of Baghdad. That there will be growing trust between the different neighborhoods."

Before his speech, the president picked up his lunch in a cafeteria line, surrounded by enlisted men and women in camouflage uniforms, and sat at a long table in the crowded mess hall.

After his speech, he was scheduled to meet with some families of troops killed in Iraq.

Reactions in the capitol

In Washington, top administration officials promoted the new Iraq strategy.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Thursday he doesn't know how long an increase in troop levels in Iraq will last.

"It's viewed as a temporary surge, but I think no one has a really clear idea of how long that might be," Gates said at a news conference.

"The increase in military forces will be phased in. It will not unfold overnight. There will be no D-Day. It won't look like the Gulf War," Gates said. (Watch Gates explain how plan will work Video)

"The timetable for the introduction of additional U.S. forces will provide ample opportunity early on, and before many of the additional U.S. troops actually arrive in Iraq, to evaluate the progress of this endeavor and whether the Iraqis are fulfilling their commitments to us," he said.

Gates appeared at a news conference in Washington with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

All three were scheduled to appear on Capitol Hill Thursday, while the Pentagon took steps to deploy the first of the additional troops. (Troop levels in Iraq)

Gates also announced changes in overall troop strength in response to President Bush's new plan for Iraq.

"I am recommending to [the president] a total increase in the two services of 92,000 soldiers and Marines over the next five years -- 65,000 soldiers and 27,000 Marines. The emphasis will be on increasing combat capability," Gates said.

He said the maximum length of involuntary mobilization for members of the reserves would be reduced to a year, instead of the 16 to 24 months many reservists currently serve.

"Being stretched is part of the equation, but it does not impact the recommendation about how many troops are needed," Pace said. "We have sufficient capacity inside the U.S. armed forces in order to do this [troop increase]."

Rice said the State Department would expand its network of provincial reconstruction teams in Iraq.

'Out of the Green Zone, into the field'

"We must ... get our civilians out of the embassy, out of the Green Zone and into the field across Iraq to support promising local leaders and promising local structures," she said. (Watch Rice outline strategy Video)

She announced the appointment of Tim Carney, former ambassador to Haiti, to the new position of coordinator for Iraq transitional assistance.

Testifying later Thursday before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Rice discussed whether Iran and Syria should have a role in solving Iraq's problems.

"I think we need to recognize that if Iran and Syria wish to play a stabilizing role for their own interests, then they will do so. If, on the other hand, they intend to offer a stabilizing role because they believe that in our current situation in Iraq, we are willing to pay a price, that's not diplomacy -- that's extortion," she said. (Watch heckler bring a bit of levity to hearing Video)

Elsewhere on Capitol Hill, Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold of Wisconsin urged Congress to cut funding for the Iraq war, while the Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, threatened to filibuster any Democratic resolution opposing increased troop levels. (Full story)

Other developments

  • Bush's plan got a chilly reception in key European countries Thursday, and many commentators said they do not believe it will succeed. Several allies in Asia, however, lined up behind the strategy, and Britain gave a cautious endorsement. (Full story)
  • Britain said it does not intend to send any more forces to Iraq. Asked on Thursday morning about Britain's plans, Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett said: "It is not our intention at the present time to send more troops." (Full story)
  • Arab analysts said Thursday the plan will fail to bring peace to Iraq and could aggravate a conflict in which tens of thousands of people have already died. (Full story)
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