“We’re going to war, bro” — declared a young US soldier from the US Army’s celebrated 82nd Airborne Division. He gave reporters a confident two thumbs up as his unit moved out on its largest “fast deployment” in a decade at a moment Iran has promised to inflict a “historic nightmare” on the US in retaliation for the killing of Qasem Soleimani.
Reuters provided a detailed account of the uneasy yet somewhat jovial calm before the storm atmosphere that prevailed on the airport tarmac at Fort Bragg, North Carolina as 600 soldiers and many hundreds more support crew flew out.
While Kuwait is expected to be the first stop for most of the some 3,500 total paratroopers ordered to the region, the final destination is classified, and the Army is concerned over information leaks. For this reason the US Army confiscated the cell phones and any personal communication devices of those deploying on the transport planes.
The departing soldiers, with the older generation described by Reuters as more somber and aware of the reality of entering conflict, were keenly aware that war is potentially on the horizon:
The older soldiers, in their 30s and 40s, were visibly more somber, having the experience of seeing comrades come home from past deployments learning to walk on one leg or in flag-draped coffins.
“This is the mission, man,” said Brian Knight, retired Army veteran who has been on five combat deployments to the Middle East…
“They’re answering America’s 911 call,” Knight said. “They’re stoked to go. The president called for the 82nd.”
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