Approximately 800 paratroopers — among the first soldiers rushed to Kuwait in early January amid heightening tensions with Iran — were welcomed home Thursday at Fort Bragg, N.C., Stars and Stripes reported.
The soldiers were part of 82nd Airborne Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team that rapidly deployed a total of 3,000 troops into the Middle East, the "most significant no notice deployment of combat forces" in three decades, Stars and Stripes reported. The last time was in 2010, when soldiers were rushed to Haiti following a devastating earthquake, the military news outlet reported.
"As the centerpiece of the nation’s Immediate Response Force, it's critical that 1st Brigade and the 82nd Airborne Division are able to project global force employment," Col. Andrew Saslav, the commander of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, said in a statement.
"Working across combatant commands not only demonstrates the flexibility and expeditionary capability of our airborne forces, but also better prepares our paratroopers for the complexity of the modern global security environment."
The brigade was tapped for the quick deployment within hours of the Jan. 3 airstrike in Baghdad that killed Iran's Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, who commanded the elite Quds Force that has trained and directed Tehran’s proxy forces across the Middle East, Stars and Stripes noted.
Iran's response came Jan. 8, when it launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles at Iraq’s al Asad Air Base, which hosts some 1,000 American troops. More than 100 U.S. service members suffered traumatic brain injuries in the attack.
Lt. Col. Scott McKay, the commander of the 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, said his unit spent most of the deployment conducting training. The unit will now prepare for a training operation dubbed "Exercise Swift Response 20" in Bulgaria, Croatia and Romania, Stars and Stripes reported.
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