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ARLINGTON, Va. — A battalion of about 700 soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division has received a deployment order and is preparing to go to Iraq to help guard detainees, military officials said.

The 1st Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR) “has been alerted and begun preparation for movement to Iraq within the next two months,” 82nd Airborne Division spokeswoman Maj. Amy Hannah said Wednesday in a telephone interview from Fort Bragg, N.C.

The infantry battalion received its official deployment order last week, Hannah said. However, the troops were warned at least two months ago that the deployment was inevitable, an Army official at the Pentagon said Wednesday.

“It’s been general knowledge at Fort Bragg that they were going,” the official, who asked not to be named because he is not a spokesman for the division, told Stripes.

The troops are being sent to Iraq at the request of Gen. George Casey, commander of Multi-National Forces-Iraq, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said Wednesday.

Casey asked for the additional troops in order to provide “assistance with detainee operations at the theater level,” Whitman said.

Whitman said he did not know how long the troops will be in Iraq.

This deployment will mark the battalion’s third Middle East assignment since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The battalion was deployed to Afghanistan from July 2002 to January 2003, and in Iraq outside Fallujah from September 2003 to April 2004.

About two weeks ago, Pentagon officials said that U.S. military commanders in Iraq might ask for a temporary boost in force levels to provide security for the elections that are scheduled to be held in October and December.

But Whitman said the deployment of the 504th PIR “is not in response to any potential force adjustments related to the upcoming elections.”


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