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300 soldiers from Alaska called back to Baghdad
WASHINGTON — About 300 Alaska-based soldiers sent home from Iraq just before their unit's deployment was extended last month must now go back, the Army said Monday, setting up a wrenching departure for troops and families who thought their service there was finished.
The soldiers — all from the 172nd Stryker Brigade — are among the close to 380 troops who had returned home to Fort Wainwright and to Fort Richardson when Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld ordered the unit to serve four more months. The remaining 80 will not have to return to Iraq.
Army officials sent a team of personnel and pay experts to Alaska to help sort out all of the soldiers' vacations, school enrollments and other plans torn apart by the decision to return them to Iraq. The unit is now being stationed in Baghdad, one of the most violent parts of the country.
The bulk of the 172nd Brigade was still in Iraq when Rumsfeld extended their deployment as part of a plan to quell the escalating violence in Baghdad. Overall, the brigade has about 3,900 troops. An additional 300 soldiers from the unit had left Iraq and were in Kuwait, and were about to board flights home when they were called back.
Soldiers who serve more than 365 days on the warfront will receive $1,000 more per month — $800 for incentive pay and $200 for additional hazardous-duty pay.
New uniforms for Iraqi police
BAGHDAD, Iraq — The U.S. military unveiled a new uniform Monday for Iraq's national police that will be difficult to copy — a move aimed at preventing insurgents, death squads and common criminals from impersonating officers.
The new bluish-gray uniform, presented to reporters by Maj. Gen. Joseph Peterson, is similar to that worn by U.S. soldiers but with the Iraqi flag embedded in the fabric's print. It will be issued beginning in October.
"This one is very hard to duplicate. It is very distinctive," said Peterson, who is in charge of training the Iraqi national police.
The current uniforms are easy to copy and are widely available in Baghdad. As a result, many attacks and kidnappings have been carried out by gunmen disguised as police.
However, both the authorities and the public believe some of the abductions and killings have been carried out by police, whose ranks have been infiltrated by insurgents who would have access to the new uniforms.
Compiled from The Associated Press and Reuters
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