Local News

More 82nd Airborne Troops Heading To Afghanistan

Posted August 16, 2002

— Thousands of 82nd Airborne troops are already in Afghanistan as part of Task Force Panther. The 82nd Airborne began replacing soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division two months ago. Now, the command and control element of the 82nd Airborne, led by the division's commander, Gen. John Vines, will replace the 10th Mountain Division command and control unit.

"As missions come down from the JTF headquarters there, we refine those plans and send them down to the Army forces, that are in the country which is our Task Force Panther," said Maj. Richard Patterson, of the 82nd Airborne Division.

The deployments come as no surprise to WRAL's military adviser, retired Lt. Gen. Robert Springer.

"Whenever there's anything going on in the world that's important and significant and needs boots on the ground, it ends up being troops from Fort Bragg," he said.

Other Fort Bragg units, including Special Operations and First Corps Support Command, are also in Afghanistan. Gen. Dan McNeill, commander of the 18th Airborne Corps, will be joined by Vines, adding a lot of leadership clout to Operation Enduring Freedom.

"I think what we have done here by putting Gen. McNeill over there and soon Gen. Vines takes a lot of pressure off Gen. Franks worrying about day-to-day activities," Springer said.

Military officials say about 175 soldiers will head to the Bagram air base in a few weeks. The mission will last six months.

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