WASHINGTON – The Army announced Friday that 1,800 soldiers from two stateside installations would deploy in the coming months to Iraq and Afghanistan.
About 1,300 soldiers from Fort Campbell, Kentucky will deploy to Iraq in the spring, while about 500 soldiers from Fort Drum, New York will travel to Afghanistan later this winter on regular rotations to replace outgoing units, according to an Army statement.
In Iraq, the Fort Campbell soldiers with the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division will serve in Operation Inherent Resolve. They’ll be tasked with advising and assisting Iraqi security forces as they prepare to fight the Islamic State group, replacing the Fort Drum-based 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, which arrived in Iraq in September.
There are about 3,500 U.S. troops deployed to Iraq, serving primarily as advisers to Iraqi forces.
The brigade from the 101st Airborne will join its division headquarters, which is expected to deploy soon to Iraq and Kuwait to serve as the Combined Joint Forces Land Component Command-Iraq under the division’s commander, Maj. Gen. Gary J. Volesky. The headquarters’ deployment was announced in November.
The 2nd Brigade Combat Team recently completed a training rotation at the Army’s Joint Readiness Training Center in Fort Polk, Louisiana in preparation for the about nine-month deployment.
Second “Brigade is ready, trained, well-lead and fully prepared to take on its new mission in support of coalition operations in Iraq,” Volesky said in a prepared statement.
The 500 Fort Drum soldiers with the 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment of the 10th Mountain Division’s 2nd Brigade tapped for deployment will serve as advisers to Afghan forces for an expected nine-month tour. The unit will complete a rotation this month at the Joint Readiness Training Center before it deploys.
In Afghanistan, 2-87 Infantry will join the 10th Mountain Division headquarters, which is serving at Bagram Air Field as the National Support Element.
“Our nation’s Army continues to call upon Mountain soldiers to serve around the world in places such as Afghanistan due to their proven record of high standards, mission success and selfless service,” said Maj. Gen. Jeffrey L. Bannister, commander of the 10th Mountain Division.
There are about 9,800 U.S. troops serving in Afghanistan primarily to train and advise Afghan forces and conduct some counterterrorism operations. President Barack Obama announced in October he would keep 5,500 troops in Afghanistan into 2017, but some members of Congress have called for a larger U.S. presence amid recent gains by the resurgent Taliban.
The top American commander in Afghanistan, Army Gen. John Campbell, recently said the United States should at least maintain its current posture there for the foreseeable future.
“My intent would be to keep as much as I could for as long as I could,” he said.