Febraury 25, 2008

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States expects to have 140,000 troops in Iraq in July after withdrawing five combat brigades, leaving a force larger than before it began pouring in troops last year, the Pentagon said on Monday.

Army Lt. Gen. Carter Ham, director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also told reporters that the number of U.S. forces in Afghanistan is expected to climb to an all-time high of 32,000 troops by late summer, from about 28,000 today, as thousands of Marines take up combat and training duties.

“These force posture levels are truly conditions based and driven by the mission requirements and the assessments of commanders on the ground,” Ham said at a Pentagon briefing.

There were some 132,000 U.S. troops in Iraq before President George W. Bush ordered a surge of about 30,000 more to curb rampant violence that threatened to plunge the country into all-out civil war.

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