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Army to Deploy 101st Airborne Soldiers to Oversee Iraqi Army Training

Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment (Red Currahee), 101st Airborne Division, lay down suppressive fire Oct. 5, 2015, during a ground assault training exercise in New Mexico. (Defense Department photo/Corey Baltos)
Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment (Red Currahee), 101st Airborne Division, lay down suppressive fire Oct. 5, 2015, during a ground assault training exercise in New Mexico. (Defense Department photo/Corey Baltos)

The U.S. Army is sending 500 soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) to Iraq and Kuwait in early 2016 to advise and assist Iraqi Security Forces.

The 101st headquarters element will assume the role of Combined Joint Forces Land Component Command-Iraq, replacing the 82nd Airborne Division headquarters, according to a Nov. 6 Army press release.

During the nine-month deployment, the division headquarters will provide command and control of coalition troops that are training, advising, and assisting Iraqi forces as part of Operation Inherent Resolve to combat militants affiliated with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS.

About 1,300 paratroopers from 3rd Brigade Combat Team of the 82nd Airborne Division recently returned from a nine-month mission of training Iraqi army units as part of the advise-and-assist mission. During that deployment, the 3rd BCT formed in teams and helped to train about 12,400 new Iraqi army soldiers. The teams also worked every day with Iraqi Ground Forces Command.

Iraqi army units are currently fighting in the counterattack to retake Ramadi from militant fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

The 101st HQ began preparing for the 2016 deployment in late summer.

"Operation Inherent Resolve has been the focus of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) Headquarters for the last three months," said 101st commander Maj. Gen. Gary J. Volesky.

"Going back to 1942, Screaming Eagle soldiers have always answered our nation's call to duty with pride and tenacity," said Volesky. "This tough mission is our next 'Rendezvous with Destiny' - and we are ready for it."

--Matthew Cox can be reached at matthew.cox@military.com.

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