82nd Airborne Soldiers Return Home from Sudden Middle East Deployment

soldier reunites with his daughter at Fort Bragg
A soldier reunites with his daughter at Fort Bragg, N.C. after returning from the Middle East, Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020. The 82nd Airborne Division's Immediate Response Force had been deployed since New Years Eve. (U.S. Army via AP)

Nearly two months after a U.S. Army rapid-response force was activated amid tensions with Iran, instantly deploying 3,000 soldiers to the Middle East, some are returning home.

By the end of the weekend, nearly 800 paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division’s Immediate Response Force are slated to have returned to Fort Bragg, North Carolina. On Thursday morning, eager family members waited in the base’s iconic Green Ramp to greet their loved ones.

On New Years Eve, an initial wave of 750 paratroopers was deployed to the Middle East within 18 hours after an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad as tensions flared with Iran.

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The remainder of the 1st Brigade was deployed in the following days. The sudden deployment marked the most significant no-notice deployment of combat forces in more than 30 years.

While in the Middle East, paratroopers were on standby under the leadership of U.S. Central Command and continued readiness training.

Roughly 2,000 members of the 1st Brigade Combat Team are still deployed to the region for “any missions deemed necessary.” It’s not clear when the remainder will return.

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