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Sunday, January 1, 2017
Families Say Goodbye As 1,700 Members of 82nd Airborne Join Fight Against ISIS
A total of about 1700 members of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team will deploy in the coming weeks.
In the darkness around Fort Bragg’s York Theater, hundreds of families alternated between smiles and holding back tears.
Amid the conflicting emotions of a pending deployment, the paratroopers and their loved ones embraced. They posed for photographs. Then they said goodbye.
Roughly 270 soldiers from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division left Fort Bragg late Wednesday, bound for Iraq and a key role in the ongoing fight to destroy the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, known as Operation Inherent Resolve.
The soldiers are the first large group from the brigade to deploy. Five more flights are scheduled over the next two weeks, each with from 250 to 350 paratroopers set to be on board.
In all, about 1,700 soldiers from the 2nd Brigade will deploy to Iraq and nearby Kuwait. They will fill a number of roles in those countries, helping the war effort logistically, training Iraqi forces and providing more direct advice and support to those on the front lines of the fight against the Islamic State.
The paratroopers will enter the fight at a pivotal time, leaders have said. Efforts to liberate Mosul – a key city in northern Iraq – from Islamic State control are well underway.
Iraqi forces are taking the lead in that fight, but American troops are providing support through air strikes, intelligence and artillery barrages, among other aid.
Sgt. Patrick Jones, a cannon crew member with the 2nd Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment, said his fellow artillerymen expect to be busy.
“We’re anticipating doing a lot of fire missions,” he said while waiting with his family outside the theater.
Jones, like many of his fellow soldiers, used Wednesday to spend a few final moments with those he loves ahead of the nine-month deployment.