7 de noviembre de 2006

Irak: Aumenta la cantidad de tropas a 152,000

Troop levels reach 152,000 but expect to dip soon

By Gordon Lubold
Staff writer

The number of U.S. troops in Iraq has moved upward to about 152,000
as some major units rotating out of the country hand off
responsibility to their relief commands, defense officials said.

The number surpasses the force level during the March 2003 invasion
of Iraq and is higher than at any other time this year. The all-time
high is 159,000 U.S. troops in January 2005 for elections of the new
Iraqi National Assembly.

More recently, the number has been creeping up the past few months
from a baseline of around 135,000 to 140,000. Pentagon officials have
said they expected the numbers to rise during the transition, the so-
called "left-seat, right-seat" period in which current units help
transition replacements into their areas of responsibility.

Bryan Whitman, chief Pentagon spokesman, said he believes the
transition period has reached its peak and that the numbers would
soon begin to move in the opposite direction.

"My sense is that we're about where the major overlap is right now,
so as you start to complete those transitions, it will go down," he

Whitman said it's hard to be precise about U.S. troop levels in Iraq
because there are always so many coming and going. Nonetheless, he
expects that in the next month or so, the number will fall back to
around 135,000.

Top commanders have left open the possibility of asending more U.S.
troops in Iraq to stem the increasing violence there, especially in
and around Baghdad.

Earlier this year, senior commanders had indicated there could be a
major redeployment of thousands of troops by December. But this
summer, Army Gen. John Abizaid, head of U.S. Central Command,
indicated there would be no major redeployments home until at least
next spring.