Units in Fort Bragg’s 82nd Airborne Division and 18th Airborne Corps are among the 8,500 troops placed on a heightened alert status because Russia might invade Ukraine, a Pentagon spokesman said.
It’s unclear if the status of the 82nd units is a step up from the division’s usual readiness. As part of the 82nd’s role as the nation’s Immediate Response Force, units in the division are always prepared to deploy anywhere in the world within 18 hours of notification.
Pentagon Spokesman John F. Kirby said Thursday that Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III placed the 8,500 troops on a “heightened preparedness to deploy” if Russia invades Ukraine.
“I can say that today that these units include elements of the 82nd Airborne Division based at Fort Bragg, which regularly I think you all know maintains high readiness, as well as elements of the 18th Airborne Corps, also based at Fort Bragg and some elements from Fort Campbell, Kentucky,” he said, according to a transcript of a press briefing at the Pentagon.
Kirby said in a statement released by the Pentagon that units on alert also include parts of the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell and the Fourth Infantry Division at Fort Carson. Other units also now have “an increased readiness posture,” the statement said.
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Kirby said the forces are on a heightened preparedness to deploy but have not been activated.
“These units, all told, include medical support, aviation support, logistics support and of course, combat formations,” he said.
Most of the troops are dedicated to the NATO Response Force. The NATO website says the force is “a highly ready and technologically advanced multinational force made up of land, air, maritime and Special Operations Forces components that the Alliance can deploy quickly, wherever needed, according to the statement.
Kirby said U.S. officials still believe that diplomacy can end tension between Russia and Ukraine.
“But thus far, it has not achieved the kind of results that the international community would like to see,” he said.
A Pentagon spokesman said Friday that he could not be more about the specific alert status of units, including the 82nd, since the notice only told the forces to prepare to deploy.
The 82nd’s three brigade combat teams operate on a readiness cycle that has one of three on alert, another going through a retrofit, and the third preparing to be on alert. Units from the division and other troops from Fort Bragg deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq numerous times over the past 20 years.
In August, a brigade and a battalion from the 82nd were sent to Afghanistan to support the withdrawal of U.S. forces from the country. The effort signified the end of a nearly 20-year mission in Afghanistan that began shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
In January 2020, about 3,500 paratroopers from the 82nd’s 1st Brigade Combat Team and other troops were sent to the Middle East after tensions rose in the area. The move was the division’s first no-notice combat deployment in more than 30 years.
The Fort Bragg soldiers were sent to the region after an airstrike in Baghdad ordered by President Donald Trump killed a top Iranian general. Some paratroopers provided security for the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, which had been attacked by protesters earlier.
Local news editor Steve DeVane can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 910-486-3572.
This article originally appeared on The Fayetteville Observer: Fort Bragg troops from on alert due to possible invasion of Ukraine