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82nd Airborne Division returns home from Middle East deployment

82nd Airborne Division (82nd Airborne Division/Released)
February 22, 2020

Paratroopers with the 82nd Airborne Division have returned home following a deployment to Iran during a crisis that saw attacks from the United States and Iran.

After tensions between Iran and the United States cooled, the paratroopers returned home on Thursday to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, according to an announcement from the 82nd Airborne Division’s Instagram account.

“Today the #AllAmerican Division welcomed home the first elements of @1bct82nd from their deployment to the @uscentcom area of responsibility,” the 82nd Airborne Division wrote on Instagram. “These #Paratroopers are assigned to 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment and they were the ones to answer our Nation’s call on New Year’s Eve. The Division executed a no notice deployment with the Immediate Response Force Brigade (1st Brigade Combat Team), rapidly projecting combat power into the CENTCOM area of responsibly. This was the most significant no notice deployment of combat forces in more than 30 years and a remarkable and historic effort by the logistical nodes on @fortbraggnc.”

The 82nd Airborne Division paratroopers were given almost no notice of deployment. Despite this, soldiers in the First Brigade Combat were able to answer the call in just 18 hours, leaving their families behind.

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According to the 82nd Airborne Division, this deployment was the most significant no notice deployment in more than 30 years.

The first 350 paratroopers arrived on Thursday morning to Fort Bragg’s Pope Army Airfield and a total of 800 paratroopers from the division are returning home.

As the Instagram post indicates, the 750 paratroopers suddenly deployed to Iran with a group of nearly 3,500 soldiers as part of Defense Secretary Mark Esper’s Immediate Response Force after pro-Iran protesters stormed the U.S. Embassy in Iraq.

Tensions between the two nations were escalating greatly in December and January, when the United States blamed Iran for the death of a Defense Department contractor in December.

The United States responded by killing General Qassem Soleimani in an airstrike on Jan. 2, along with other members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Soleimani was the leader of the elite division of the IRGC, called the Quds Force.

“General Soleimani and his Quds Force were responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American and coalition service members and the wounding of thousands more,” the Pentagon said in a statement at the time. “This strike was aimed at deterring future Iranian attack plans. The United States will continue to take all necessary action to protect our people and our interests wherever they are around the world.”

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, called for “severe revenge” before the Iranian regime conducted a Jan. 8 airstrike on U.S. airbases. Although no U.S. troops were killed, several suffered severe head trauma.

Additionally, the airstrike killed 176 passengers aboard a Ukrainian passenger jet, which Iranian officials said it was unintentional consequence form “human error.”