The number of US combat troops in Iraq is being quietly doubled this year in what the San Francisco Chronicle calls a second surge, the paper concludes from an analysis of Pentagon orders. The combination of new combat brigades and lengthened tours for troops already stationed in Iraq could bring the total to 28 brigades rather than the 20 designated for the surge.
The orders suggest that the number of combat soldiers in Iraq will rise from 52,500 in January to 98,000 by year's end. Including support troops, the total will climb from 162,000 to more than 200,000. An army spokesman denies a "secret surge," and attributes the increase to "a crossover period" while replacing stationed brigades with new ones.