January 8, 2006*
Soldiers of the U.S. 4th Infantry Division, based at Fort Hood, Texas, have begun arriving in Kuwait, where they are getting desert combat training in preparation for deployment to Iraq. See the 4th ID Web site. It will replace the 3rd Infantry Division, which is completing a one-year rotation in the zone around Baghdad. Some may recall that the 4th ID was sent to Turkey in March 2003, as part of a plan to invade Iraq from the north, which probably would have won the war more quickly, and possibly have prevented the escape of Saddam Hussein and other top Baathist leaders. After going back and forth, Turkey finally decided it didn't want to be part of the war, so the 4th ID was rerouted through the Persian Gulf, and did not arrive until after Iraq was liberated. When it returns to the U.S.A. at the end of the year, it will take up residence at its new/old home base in Fort Carson, Colorado, where it had been based from 1970 to 1995.
One year ago, the 4th Infantry Division became "modularized," meaning that it now has four (rather than three) combat brigades, each of which can operate independently if needed. To accomplish this transformation, divisional "assets" (i.e., specialized logistical, engineering, and medical units, among others) are apportioned to the separate brigades. This is part of the Army's long-term restructuring program which is aimed at greater flexibility in fighting low-intensity irregular wars, such as Iraq. Brigades (usually 4,000 - 5,000 troops) will gradually replace divisions (usually 14,000 - 20,000 troops) as the organizational level at which combat deployments are typically carried out. See DoD.gov.
[* Date and link corrected.]