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Thousands more Fort Bragg troops deploying to bolster anti-Islamic State efforts

A soldier assigned to 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division jumps out the back of a CH-47 Chinook helicopter assigned to 3rd General Support Aviation Battalion, 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade during an Airborne Operation at Holland Drop Zone on Fort Bragg, N.C., Dec. 8, 2017.

STEVEN GALIMORE/U.S. ARMY

By DREW BROOKS | The Fayetteville Observer, N.C. | Published: March 10, 2017

FORT BRAGG, N.C. (Tribune News Service) — More than 2,500 Fort Bragg paratroopers will soon join the rest of their unit in the fight against the Islamic State.

The soldiers, belonging to the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, are expected to deploy to Kuwait, where they will support members of the brigade already advising and assisting Iraqi troops in defeating the Islamic State.

The troops will support operations to liberate western Mosul in Iraq and also could be involved in similar operations in Syria.

"The remainder of the brigade will be leaving Fort Bragg, going to Kuwait to be postured there to do all things Mosul, Raqqa, all in between. So the whole brigade will now be forward," said Lt. Gen. Joseph Anderson, the U.S. Army's deputy chief of staff, G-3/5/7.

Anderson, who oversees operations and plans at the Army headquarters level, announced the deployment during a congressional hearing on Wednesday. The House Armed Services Committee hearing was focused on the current state of Army readiness.

The 82nd Airborne Division confirmed the deployment.

A spokesman, Lt. Col. Joe Buccino, said the "2nd Brigade Combat Team is well-trained, disciplined and well-led."

"The Falcon paratroopers are prepared to support short-notice contingency operations as needed by our nation's leadership," he said.

More than 1,800 soldiers of the roughly 4,400-soldier 2nd Brigade are deployed to Iraq and Kuwait. They left Fort Bragg beginning late last year to assume the role as the primary advise and assist brigade in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.

Those troops are supporting local partners in several ways, including training and equipping them before battle and, in combat, providing intelligence, artillery support and advice.

The 2nd Brigade, led by Col. J. Patrick Work, represents the largest contingent of the thousands of Fort Bragg troops currently deployed in support of the anti-ISIS mission, which is currently led by Fort Bragg's 18th Airborne Corps and the corps' commanding general, Lt. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend.

Anderson, who previously commanded the 18th Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg, said the 2nd Brigade had been granted permission to call forward the remainder of its brigade.

In December, as the 2nd Brigade prepared for its deployment, Work said the deploying troops would be "ready to fight tonight," but he also told the roughly 2,600 soldiers who were to remain at Fort Bragg that they would also need to remain ready.

"If you're in the 82nd Airborne Division, if you're not deployed to the fight, you're at home preparing for the fight," Work said at the time.

Last week, Townsend said Iraqi forces, with the help of U.S. forces, were making progress in the fight for west Mosul.

The commander of Combined Joint Task Force -- Operation Inherent Resolve said the efforts were showing promise, but he also acknowledged there was plenty of work left to do.

Townsend provided the update shortly after sending recommendations for the anti-ISIS fight to President Donald Trump.

Trump, who spoke to Congress in late February, has vowed to destroy the Islamic State, calling the terrorist organization "a network of lawless savages that have slaughtered Muslims and Christians, and men, women and children of all faiths and beliefs."

"We will work with our allies, including our friends and allies in the Muslim world, to extinguish this vile enemy from our planet," Trump said.

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©2017 The Fayetteville Observer (Fayetteville, N.C.)
Visit The Fayetteville Observer at www.fayobserver.com
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