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Pentagon Orders Two Infantry Divisions to Iraq for Pre-Election Duty

The U.S. Defense Department has ordered 1,500 additional U.S. troops to Iraq to provide security ahead of elections in October and December.

A Defense Department statement said Wednesday that two battalions from the 82nd Airborne Division will deploy to Iraq for about 120 days to support security efforts during the election period.

The statement said they will join 180,000 Iraqi security forces and 138,000 coalition forces and that additional adjustments to troop levels for the elections are possible.

A referendum on the constitution is scheduled for mid-October and parliamentary elections are due in December.

Earlier, President Bush reiterated in a speech to military families in Idaho that U.S. forces will not stage an early withdrawal from Iraq. He said an early withdrawal would embolden the terrorists and create a staging ground to launch more attacks against Americans.

Some information for this story provided by AP and Reuters.