The Pentagon is projecting that when the U.S. troop buildup in Iraq is over in July there will be about 8,000 more troops on the ground than when the buildup began in January 2007.
Lt. Gen. Carter Ham of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told reporters Monday that by July the troop total is likely to be 140,000. That compares with 132,000 when Bush approved orders to send an additional five Army brigades to Iraq in an effort to improve security and avert civil war.
It had been widely expected that some support troops sent to Iraq with the five extra brigades would need to remain, even after July. But until now it was not clear what their number would be.