Hundreds of US soldiers deployed Saturday from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, to Kuwait to serve as reinforcements in the Middle East amid rising tensions following the US killing of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani.
Lt. Col. Mike Burns, a spokesman for the 82nd Airborne Division, told The Associated Press that 3,500 members of the division’s quick-deployment brigade, known officially as its Immediate Response Force, will have deployed within a few days. The most recent group of service members to deploy will join about 700 who left earlier in the week, Burns said.
A loading ramp at Fort Bragg was filled Saturday morning with combat gear and restless soldiers. Some tried to grab a last-minute nap on wooden benches. Reporters saw others filing onto buses.
The additional troop deployments reflect concerns about potential Iranian retaliatory action in the volatile aftermath of Friday’s drone strike that killed Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force who has been blamed for attacks on US troops and American allies going back decades.
US President Donald Trump ordered the airstrike near Baghdad’s international airport. Iran has vowed retribution, raising fears of an all-out war, but it’s unclear how or when a response might come.