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82nd Airborne Troops Play Key Role in Military Readiness



by: 82nd Airborne Troops Play Key Role in Military Readiness,

FAYETTEVILLE,

N.C. — As thousands of paratroopers from Fort Bragg Army Base

prepare for possible deployment to the Middle East, thousands more

are already on the ground in the region.

In

response to tensions with Iran in the past months, the Secretary of

Defense called for a deployment of 3,500 members of the 82nd Airborne

Division on December 29. The paratroopers started flying out of Fort

Bragg less than 24 hours later.

We

were headed out within 18 hours of receiving the call,” said Lt.

Col. Mike Burnes of the 82nd Airborne Division. “It is

kind of our claim to fame.”

A

new deployment model for paratroopers, called the Immediate Response

Force (IRF), emphasizes joint operations and

brings more air assets, cyber capabilities and logistical support to

paratroopers, according to a primer for the new model described by

Army Times.

A

brigade combat team of paratroopers in the 82nd Airborne forms the

nucleus of the Immediate Response Force, whose description includes

the ability to deploy anywhere in the world within 18 hours.

As

talks of preparing for further action continued, the readiness level

for the battalion increased.

The

commanding general of the 82nd [Major General James J. Mingus] has

ordered the division to be at the highest state of readiness,”

Burnes said. “When we get ready to deploy, there is a long list of

preparations. We are issued all of the equipment and new gear needed

and go through medical readiness. We are all doing that now.”

The

82nd currently has the 3,500 troops

who

were just deployed and an additional 3,000 paratroopers who deployed

nine months ago to Afghanistan.

We

just lost two soldiers in Afghanistan,” Burnes said. Those two were

Staff

Sgt. Ian Paul McLaughlin, of Virginia, and Pfc. Miguel Angel

Villalon, from Illinois. Both were killed by an improvised explosive

device (IED).

A

post on the 82nds website said, “It

is with a heavy heart that we announce the loss of two All American

Paratroopers. Staff Sgt. Ian Paul McLaughlin from Newport News,

Virginia and Pfc. Miguel Angel Villalon from Joliet, Illinois were

both assigned to Bravo Company, 307th Airborne Engineer

Battalion, 3rd

Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division and

killed by an Improvised Explosive Device.”

Tensions

in

Iraq escalated in late December

with

the escalation of conflicts with Iran-backed militia members and

paramilitary organizations.

A rocket attack that the Pentagon attributed to the Iran-backed

paramilitary group Kata’ib Hezbollah hit a U.S. base near Kirkuk,

killing an American contractor and wounding several others. The U.S.

military responded with airstrikes that killed more than 20

militiamen manning Kata’ib Hezbollah positions.

The

Kata’ib Hezbollah group

has

maintained varying degrees of association

with

the

Iraqi security structure as part of the Popular Mobilization Forces

(PMF), a group

organized

to fight the Islamic State. Its militias are

known for attacks against U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq, and in

2009 the United States named it a terrorist organization.

Iraqi

outrage over the strikes

spurred

a group of

demonstrators,

some of whom were militiamen

suspected of associations with the PMF, to attack

the U.S. Embassy

in Iraq's capital city Baghdad on

Tuesday, Dec. 31.

The

attackers

burned and destroyed a reception building, but failed

to breach the compound. U.S. officials and President Trump accused

Iran of orchestrating the embassy attack.

On

January 2, President Trump ordered an

airstrike

in Baghdad that killed Qassem

Soleimani,

the Iranian general in charge of the international arm of the

Revolutionary Guard Corps, a special operations unit called the Quds

Force. The Pentagon issued a statement the next day confirming the attack.

The

airstrike that killed Soleimani also killed Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis,

the founder of Kata’ib Hezbollah and a military leader of the PMF

during the group’s recent activities against the Islamic State

(ISIL).

The

first wave of 3,500 paratroopers went to CENTCOM (Central Command

Center for the Middle East) in Kuwait and to the U.S. Embassy in

Iraq.According to the Army Times, paratroopers from

the 82nd

Airborne Division’s

1st

Brigade Combat Team

replaced about a

hundred

Marines

who

were previously sent to bolster security forces at the U.S. Embassy

in Baghdad.

Citing

operational security, the official said they would not discuss the

size of the force sent to the embassy or the timeline for their

arrival.

The

Marines, who came from the Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task

Force Crisis Response unit, will transition security duties at the

embassy to an element of the 82nd’s Immediate Response Force

brigade, the CENTCOM spokesperson said.

The

remaining troops are on standby in Kuwait in a situation that appears

tense but stable.

According

to Burnes, Fort Bragg has periodically altered their security

measures and are currently on the “Trusted Traveler Program.”

Burnes

said, “This

means that we are checking everyone that enters the base for military

ID.”

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