Defence officials announced on Monday that, for the second time since the Iraq war began, the US Army will be sending large units back to Iraq within a year of their return home. This action is an indication of the limits to which the US Army has been stretched.

The Army will try not to shorten the troops’ US time, “but in this case we had to,” said a senior Army official, who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. “Obviously right now the Army is stretched,” the official said.