The commander of U.S. forces in Iraq has asked for an additional 2,500 to 3,000 troops to be sent to Iraq as part of the Bush administration's military buildup to crack down on rising sectarian violence and insurgents, The Boston Globe reported.
Gen. David Petraeus wants another Army combat aviation unit - which would be the sixth U.S. Army brigade involved in the buildup - deployed to support the more than 26,000 soldiers already on their way to Iraq under the plan opposed by many Democrats in Congress, the Globe said in a report posted on its Web site Thursday night. The report quoted unidentified senior Pentagon officials.
The request has not yet been made public, according to the report, which quoted one official as saying the extra troops, to be backed by dozens of transport helicopters and powerful gunships, were needed to assist those on the ground now and those expected in Iraq shortly.
It said the new brigade probably will come from the U.S. Army's 3rd Infantry Division based at Fort Stewart, Georgia, and be sent by May to Baghdad and western Anbar Province, where the Sunni insurgency is based.
The report appeared as House Democrats pushed ahead with plans to set a September 2008 troop withdrawal deadline but suffered defeat on a more modest plan in the Senate.
Bush's initial plans to boost U.S. strength in Iraq, announced in January, called for sending 21,500 extra combat troops but has since grown to include 2,400 more to support them and 2,200 more military police to help with an anticipated increase in detainees and other duties.