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Active duty reservists drop 15% in 2 months

WASHINGTON -- The number of reservists on active duty for the global war on terrorism has dropped by about 15 percent in the past two months and is now below 160,000 for the first time since February.

The Pentagon said yesterday that 158,894 members of the National Guard and Reserve are on active duty, a drop of 5,120 over the past week. In mid-August the total was nearly 189,000.

The figures do not include reservists serving on missions unrelated to the war on terrorism, such as peacekeeping duty in Bosnia and Kosovo.

After building up in January and February before the March start of the Iraq war, the total has declined every week since mid-May, shortly after President Bush declared an end to major combat operations.

The Army has seen most of the reserve callups this year. The Army National Guard and Army Reserve have 123,912 soldiers on active duty now, or about three-quarters of the total.

The Army is expected to have thousands more called up in the weeks ahead. Pentagon officials said Tuesday that more National Guard and Reserve forces would be notified soon.

General Peter Pace, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said they probably would be logistics specialists and other support forces, rather than combat units. He said no final decisions have been made on the number likely to be needed.

Those who are sent to Iraq have been told they should expect to serve there for 12 months, not including time spent preparing for deployment or demobilizing after their return.

The Air Force has the second-largest number of reservists on active duty at 20,033, followed by the Marine Corps at 11,270, the Navy at 2,430, and the Coast Guard at 1,249.

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