As about 250 paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division prepare to deploy in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, the military continues to work to identify who might go to Iraq next as part of a 1,500-troop increase authorized in early November by President Obama.
The 250 soldiers from 1st Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne, of Fort Bragg, North Carolina, will begin deploying to Iraq in late December.
Their deployment, announced Dec. 1, is not part of the 1,500-troop increase authorized Nov. 7 by Obama.
Instead, they will deploy to Iraq to conduct security operations, reportedly to relieve troops who are currently in theater. The paratroopers are slated to deploy for a nine-month tour.
"The 1st Battalion, 505th PIR is a well-led and highly trained unit with extremely talented and adaptable paratroopers," said Col. Curtis Buzzard, the brigade commander, in a statement. "I know they are ready for any contingency and am confident they will accomplish the mission."
There are about 1,600 U.S. troops currently in Iraq as the U.S. steps up its fight against the Islamic State.
The 1,500-troop increase will almost double the number of troops already in Iraq, which includes the 1st Infantry Division headquarters, which took command in theater Oct. 31.
"The sourcing hasn't been identified for all of the 1,500 military personnel," said Navy Cmdr. Elissa Smith, a spokeswoman for the Defense Department, in an e-mail to Army Times. "However, as a bridging solution until these troops are sourced from U.S. and coalition sources, [the commander of] U.S. Central Command has given direction to move troops from around the CENTCOM area of responsibility into Iraq."
These troops are from the 1st Infantry Division and the Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force who are already in the CENTCOM area of operations, Smith said.
About 170 troops will stand up four building partner capacity sites, the first two of which will be in Anbar province and near Baghdad, she said.
These BPC sites are to accommodate the training of 12 Iraqi and Peshmerga brigades.
In addition, 40 troops are tasked with the advise and assist mission in Iraq, she said.
When the 1,500 troops are in place, it's expected that about 630 of them will be tasked with the advise and assist mission, to include enablers in areas such as logistics, command and control, and intelligence support. The other 870 will be tasked with the building partner capacity mission, Smith said.