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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Troop Rotation

Aired July 22, 2003 - 09:02   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news from the Pentagon right now. Straightaway to Barbara Starr. There's been an announcement, or expected announcement anyway, about troop rotations in Iraq.
Barbara, what do you have? Good morning there.

BARBARA STARR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Bill.

Well, CNN has learned that the Pentagon has now finished its troop rotation plan for Iraq, and is expected to announce it tomorrow. This is the long-awaited news, who will be coming home, and what units will be going to Iraq next. We are told that the plan lays out the troop rotation policy through early next year, that it calls for maintaining a force of about 145,000 troops, as expected, that the rotation plan will include Army, Marines and Reserve Units, depending on how many troops the coalition, other countries, also contribute.

Now, the first unit to come home, of course, will be those two brigades from the 3rd Infantry Division we have heard so much about. The plan, as it now exists, calls for those brigades to be replaced by elements of the 82nd Airborne, some Army Reserve Units, and very interestingly, the new Army Striker Brigade. That is out of Fort Lewis, Washington. It is a newly formed unit of very high-tech, mobile-wheeled, light-armored vehicles. It fits into the Army's strategy of a lighter, more mobile force in Iraq for rapid response. That unit has never seen combat. It is even still in the process of finishing up the last elements of its test and evaluation, but they hope to send it to Iraq, we are told, by early fall.

Next to come out of Iraq, to be coming home under this plan, will be the 101st Airborne Division, and as the plan exists, the expectation is, it will be replaced by a mix of the 1st Infantry Division brigades, which are at Fort Riley, Kansas, and in Europe, and possibly elements of the 1st Calvary Division in Fort Hood, Texas. Now official emphasize to all of that to us, that all of this is as it exists right now. If they get more coalition forces than they currently expect, it could shift the plan a bit. If the situation on the ground changes, it could shift the plan a bit. But this is the current laydown, this is their current thinking, and what they expect to announce -- Bill.

HEMMER: Families in the military hanging on to every word of that report, too, Barbara. Barbara Starr from the Pentagon.

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