Katie commented today that I should post about my feelings on Allen's homecoming being so soon. I was starting to prepare the house for Allen coming home. I kept telling Ashlyn that she could just walk when Daddy got home. Our husbands coming home has truly been almost the only topic of conversation among the wives that I know from the brigade.
Today our news changed. Allen may not be coming home as scheduled. At this point nothing is official. I have not talked to Allen. I have talked to several friends today. We hoped a delay in their homecoming was just a rumor. It is not. They may be going to Baghdad instead of coming home. I am praying that they will still come home as scheduled or, at least, very soon after that. At this point, I am heartbroken. I have many other things to say on this subject, but not now.
This is the article about the proposed delay from our local newspaper.
Stryker brigade’s homecoming in doubt
By Staff and wire reportsPublished July 26, 2006Posted in Local
WASHINGTON—Military commanders in Iraq are considering extending the deployment of the 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team from Fort Wainwright as part of the plan to increase forces in Baghdad to quell the violence, a senior Defense Department official told The Associated Press.
Alaska Gov. Frank Murkowski on Wednesday confirmed for Alaska media that the brigade’s homecoming may be postponed.
“I received a call today that there was a likelihood that a decision could be made to extend the deployment of the remaining 172nd Stryker Brigade soldiers from Fort Wainwright serving in Iraq,” Murkowski said. “That decision is not yet official but could be shortly.
Some of the nearly 4,000 troops from the brigade have already returned, though most are still in Iraq. Others are scheduled to arrive later this week and early next month.
The official, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the discussions are not final, said Wednesday that the proposal has not been presented to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld.
Maj. Kurt Gohlke, spokesman for the Army in Alaska, also said that no official decision had been made as of late Wednesday afternoon.
“Until the secretary of defense announces otherwise, we’re moving ahead with redeployment plans,” he said. “We have no decisions to indicate that they’re going to be delayed.”
Any announcement of a delay would have to come first from the Multi-National Force in Iraq, Gohlke said.
Sgt. Jeremy Pitcher, staffing the public affairs desk at 2 a.m. today in Iraq, said no information was available. He said he had received several calls from Alaska reporters.
“There is no announcement. As of right now we cannot confirm anything,” he said. “Obviously as we get that information we will put it out on our Web site.”
Rumsfeld must approve any deployments that exceed 365 days. He has approved such extensions in the past, including several last fall when U.S. forces were increased to deal with violence at the time of the Iraqi elections.
President Bush broadly outlined a plan to increase U.S. and Iraqi forces in Baghdad during a visit Tuesday to Washington by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. The details of the plan are being worked out, Pentagon officials said.
In news articles about al-Maliki’s visit, The New York Times and Washington Post both reported Wednesday that Stryker brigades would be sent to Baghdad.
Iraq currently has only two Stryker brigades—the 172nd from Fort Wainwright and the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division from Fort Lewis, Wash.
The 172nd Stryker Brigade has been operating in the Nineveh province of northern Iraq, according to Col. Mike Shields, the commander. Their 18,000-square-mile area includes the cities of Mosul, Tall Afar, Dohuk and Erbil, with a total population of 3.85 million.
Stryker brigades are highly mobile units that used a new wheeled, armored vehicle. They have about 3,900 soldiers. Shields, who spoke with reporters last week via teleconference, said the team had about 4,400 troops because it has had several other specialty units attached to it, including some Navy and Air Force troops and some military police.
About 270 members of an advance team of the 172nd returned to Alaska June 20. About 200 troops from the 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, which was previously based at Fort Richardson, arrived at Fort Wainwright, their new home, Tuesday night.
Shields was still in Mosul last week when he spoke with reporters.
The 3rd Brigade began leaving Fort Lewis for its second tour in Iraq starting in late June. The brigade, which was the Army’s first Stryker team, has about 4,000 troops, according to Tammy Reed, spokeswoman for the post.
Officially, the 3rd Brigade is to replace the 172nd. If the 172nd is delayed, the two brigades would overlap for longer than initially planned.
The overlap would increase the overall number of U.S. troops in Iraq, currently about 127,000.
It was not clear Wednesday how many troops from the 172nd could have their deployment extended or for how long. Historically the extensions approved by Rumsfeld have lasted about a month or two.
Murkowski offered words of encouragement to the family members of those in the brigade.
“Although it is obviously a disruption to the soldiers and their families, affecting more than 4,000 people,” he said. “It is also gratifying that others have recognized what I have known all along: The Strykers have proven themselves to be one of the most effective forces our country has and are needed to combat the global war on terror, which in this case means the growing terrorist threat in Baghdad.”
Some members of Congress are asking for details on the plan to shore up Baghdad.
Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., in a letter to Rumsfeld, asked him to clarify how many U.S. forces are being sent to Baghdad and whether units in Iraq will have to extend their deployment.
“It is essential that the administration be completely straightforward about the situation in Iraq, particularly when it comes to U.S. troops being put in harm’s way,” Kerry said.
He said it appears U.S troops “are clearly not standing down as Iraqi security forces stand up.”
The Associated Press and the News-Miner’s Washington, D.C., reporter Sam Bishop, who can be reached at (202) 662-8721 or firstname.lastname@example.org, contributed to this report.