FORT BRAGG, N.C. — More troops are heading to Iraq, including the post's highest-ranking officer.
The 18th Airborne Corps plans to send as many as 8,000 troops to Iraq, including aviators, medics, military police, COSCOM soldiers. Among the people leaving is Fort Bragg's top soldier, Gen. John Vines.
"The 18th Airborne Corps Headquarters, stationed here at Fort Bragg, have received orders to deploy to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom," said Fort Bragg spokesman Lt. Billy Buckner. "We are trained, equipped and ready to defend America's interests, and we continue to do our part to win this war on terrorism," Buckner said.
When thousands of soldiers leave, families are not the only ones who notice. Businesses see a drop in sales, at least at first.
"You have a slump in cleaning, a slump in sewing, a slump in just about everything," said Randall Hinds, of Sue's Sewing.
Two to four weeks later, new soldiers replace the ones who deployed, and business picks back up.
"New uniform sales, patches sewn on, more sewing," Hinds said.
Another constant in Fort Bragg during war time is that hotels are busy. Fayetteville's occupancy rates are well above the national average. The Chamber of Commerce said it is because reservists are constantly coming to town.
"It's been such a smooth transition with people leaving and other ones coming in that the impact hasn't been as great as it has been in past deployments," said Donna Russell, of the Chamber of Commerce.
It is the second time this week that Fort Bragg announced deployments. Three-hundred paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne will deploy to Iraq late this year or early next year.
Soldiers plan to be gone for up to a year. Vines had previously spent time in Afghanistan.