Army officials have not provided a timeline for the replacement of all of its Army and Marine Corps personnel in Iraq, citing the “security of our country.”
However, a memo obtained by The Associated Press shows that the Army’s top civilian officer, Maj. Gen. Charles T. Miller, was ordered to “create a plan to replace all non-essential personnel” with “an additional 10,000 reservists and 10,600 National Guard troops,” and that the replacement plan would include “up to 4,000 National Guard and Reserve Reserve troops” to replace those that had been relieved.
“The goal is to have a total of about 4,800 soldiers and officers,” the memo reads.
“These troops will be assigned to training, duty, and other assignments that require them to be at their posts or at locations outside of their normal duties.”
It also said the Army would create “special responsibility teams” to advise on the process, as well as to develop plans to replace officers that had left or had been reassigned to other assignments.
The memo was obtained by the AP under the Freedom of Information Act.
Miller was appointed as the Army chief of staff in August.
Miller is not the first military official to face scrutiny for the military’s failure to replace thousands of soldiers.
In October, the Army announced it would begin paying bonuses to about 3,000 of its personnel in the process of removing soldiers who had left the Army for civilian work, citing a shortage of personnel.
Miller and other senior Army officials told Congress in March that the plan to remove more than 6,000 Army officers and enlisted men and women from the force was underway, with about 2,000 still on leave.
The Army and the Pentagon have been unable to meet those numbers, and the military has blamed a surge in suicides among the Army personnel.
Army officials said the suicide rate was lower than expected.
“There’s nothing that says we can’t do more,” Miller told a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing in March.
Miller has since apologized to the military and said he was unaware of the suicides and had no intention of taking action.
Miller also told the Senate Armed Service Committee that the military was “making progress” on the reduction of its suicides, which had been “an ongoing problem.”
Miller was named the Army deputy chief of military operations for Iraq and Afghanistan in August 2016, replacing Army Gen. Paul Vallely.
Vallel, who was replaced by Miller in November 2016, also has apologized for the suicides.
The military’s top enlisted officer, Gen. Robert B. Neller, has said the suicides were not linked to the deployment of new recruits.
He said the number of suicides was lower because the Army was focusing on training and mentoring young men.
Miller had also been criticized for his handling of the crisis in Afghanistan, in which more than 100 U.S. troops were killed.
The AP’s story on the suicides will run Sunday.
More from AP Military, law enforcement and national security coverage: Military, law Enforcement, national security