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Deployments continue as Fort Bragg troops stand ready

1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division conducts a farewell run followed by a Regimental color's casing ceremony on Fort Bragg, N.C., on Wednesday June 14, 2017.

JUSTIN SMITH/U.S. ARMY

By DREW BROOKS | The Fayetteville Observer, N.C. | Published: June 17, 2017

In the coming weeks, 1,600 paratroopers are expected to leave Fort Bragg, destined for missions in Kosovo and Afghanistan.

The soldiers belong to the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division. And they’ve been preparing to serve in those countries for much of the year.

The regular ebb and flow of deployments is nothing new for Fort Bragg. It’s been this way since at least 2001, with the start of the war in Afghanistan.

Now 16 years later, there’s little sign that anything will change.

Yes, the massive deployment of troops that emptied Fort Bragg at the peak of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are no longer common place.

But troops are no less busy.

Fort Bragg has about 54,000 troops. But between 8,000 and 10,000 are deployed on any given day, according to officials.

That includes thousands of soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division — there are 2,100 soldiers from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team in Iraq — and hundreds from the 18th Airborne Corps and other units. Thousands more are deployed from Fort Bragg’s special operations forces.

Those troops not deployed are largely focused on preparing for future missions, or standing at the ready in case the nation calls.

Thousands of troops fall into the latter category, serving as the nation’s Global Response Force, or essentially being on standby if commanders in Iraq or Afghanistan call on them.

We already saw some of that in action earlier this year, when another 300 paratroopers from 2nd Brigade were sent to Iraq to bolster their brothers and sisters in arms.

Now it’s 1st Brigade’s turn. While 1,600 paratroopers will definitely deploy, officials said the remaining troops will be ready if needed.

And there’s a very likely chance they will be needed. Military leaders have been lobbying for additional U.S. troops in Afghanistan for some time now, and it would make sense for those forces to come from Fort Bragg.

For now, officials can’t say for sure whether additional deployments are coming. But if they do, they promise paratroopers will be ready.

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©2017 The Fayetteville Observer (Fayetteville, N.C.)
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