About 600 Fort Bragg soldiers will deploy to Afghanistan early next year, the 18th Airborne Corps announced Tuesday.
Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Colt said about 500 soldiers from Fort Bragg's 18th Airborne Corps will establish the core of two important headquarters in Afghanistan in February.
Colt, deputy commanding general of the 18th Airborne Corps, spoke at a Fayetteville Regional Chamber luncheon. Those soldiers work as part of the International Joint Command in Afghanistan and National Support Element.
About 100 other Fort Bragg troops from the 82nd Sustainment Brigade will deploy to Afghanistan to man the Central Command Material Recovery Element headquarters, according to a news release from the 18th Airborne Corps.
The news release said they are scheduled to deploy in late January and will replace the 3rd Corps from Fort Hood, Texas.
The United States is leading a coalition drawdown in Afghanistan that will see a 50 percent reduction of the 62,000 American troops by late winter. The 18th Airborne Corps will play a key role in the drawdown, like it did in 2011 and 2012 in Iraq.
"Their responsibility, as we look forward to a very strategic year in Afghanistan in 2014, is to bind the coalition, continue to work the advise-and-assist component, and operationally employ the coalition forces that are present," Colt said in his remarks at the chamber's State of the Community event. "The National Support Element, again very relevant, will be responsible for this incredible mission of the retrograde equipment as we again draw down in 2014."
Colt said this would be "a relatively small component of corps headquarters that performs two very strategically important missions."
Lt. Gen. Joe Anderson, commander of the 18th Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg, will take command of the International Joint Command, the release said.
"We have an important mission at a very important time in both our national military commitment to Afghanistan and in the history of Afghanistan," Anderson said in the release.
He said the 18th Airborne Corps will play a role in helping "the Afghans improve their long-term prospects for stability."
Said Colt: "We're out to establish the core of two very important headquarters in the theater. I'm confident we have all the right people to make a difference."
Soldiers from Fort Campbell, Ky.; Fort Carson, Colo.; Fort Bliss, Texas; and Fort Drum, N.Y. will also be deployed, according to the Department of Defense.
Michael Futch / firstname.lastname@example.org