About 1,800 soldiers from two separate units will deploy to the war zone in the coming months, the Army announced Friday.
About 1,300 soldiers will deploy to Iraq this spring to support Operation Inherent Resolve. The other 500 soldiers will deploy to Afghanistan for Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.
• 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division of Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
About 1,300 from the brigade will go to Iraq this spring. Once in-country, they will advise and assist Iraqi Security Forces, replacing soldiers from 1st BCT, 10th Mountain Division.
Soldiers from 2nd BCT recently completed a rotation at the Joint Readiness Training center at Fort Polk, Louisiana.
The brigade “is ready, trained, well-led and fully prepared to take on its new mission in support of coalition operations in Iraq,” said Maj. Gen. Gary Volesky, commander of the 101st Airborne Division, in a statement.
• 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment of Fort Drum, New York.
About 500 soldiers from the battalion, which is part of 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, will deploy to Afghanistan this winter.
These soldiers will join the 10th Mountain Division headquarters, which is in Afghanistan serving as the National Support Element at Bagram Airfield.
“Our nation’s Army continues to call upon Mountain soldiers to serve around the world in places like Afghanistan due to their proven record of high standards, mission success and selfless service,” said Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Bannister, commander of the 10th Mountain Division, in a statement.
These upcoming deployments are part of the regular rotation of forces. However, Gen. John Campbell, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, recently told USA Today that he wants to keep as many U.S. troops in-country as possible through 2016.
Campbell told the paper that maintaining the current force of 9,800 U.S. troops to train Afghan forces and conduct counter-terrorism raids is vital, and that the scheduled reduction to 5,500 by Jan. 1, 2017, should be put off as long as possible.
The security situation in Afghanistan remains tenuous, with several significant events since the end of the American combat mission there. In October, Taliban insurgents stormed the northern provincial capital of Kunduz and were pushed out only after fierce fighting, according to USA Today. During that battle, an inadvertent attack by a U.S. warplane on a hospital killed 42 civilians.
Last month, six American airmen were killed by a suicide bomber near Bagram Airfield.
In the south, Taliban insurgents have battered Afghan troops in Helmand province. Just on Tuesday, U.S. special operations troops who were advising their Afghan counterparts were caught in an hours-long battle. One Special Forces soldier, Staff Sgt. Matthew McClintock, was killed. Two other Americans were wounded.