Local News

82nd Airborne Gets Marching Orders

Posted Updated

FORT BRAGG, N.C. — Soldiers from the 82nd Airborne have recieved their marching orders.

The Public Affairs Office confirms soldiers will be sent to Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Fort Bragg said there is no timetable for when troops will be leaving, which groups will go or how long they will be gone.

Members of Fort Bragg's 18th Airborne Corps have already begun their deployment to Afghanistan.

Military officials say the headquarters elements, under the command of Lt. Gen Dan K. McNeill, 18th Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg commander, left for Afghanistan Monday afternoon.

The three-star general of the 18thAirborne Corps will lead a contingent of 300 corps command staffmembers going overseas to support operations in Afghanistan.

"We will provide the command and control for a number ofdifferent elements that have a number of tasks in this particulararea of operations," said McNeill.

Col. Roger King, a corps spokesman, said McNeill would report directly to Gen. Tommy Franks, the commander in the war on terror in Afghanistan.

"There are a lot of forces there. I think we're getting to thepoint where they want consolidate command and control to have asingle headquarters in charge of the fight," King said.

King said McNeill would be only the second three-star Armygeneral in the region; the other one commands U.S. Army forcesbased in Kuwait.

McNeill will lead a joint task force in Afghanistan. Soldiers fromthe 101st Airborne Division and the 10th Mountain Division, bothunder the 18th Airborne Corps, already are in Afghanistan.

"The country is going to fight it for a number of years,"McNeill said Thursday. "I can't tell you specifically that I sawthis very thing coming, but since Sept. 11, I knew eventually wewould be doing something."

McNeill said the Fort Bragg soldiers will be entering a harshnatural environment.

"It's a very austere environment," McNeill said. "I see thatas our biggest challenge. I think we've got the training we need. Ithink we've got the equipment we need. It's a tough, toughenvironment."

Defense Department officials say the United States and coalitionforces are sweeping areas of the country to ensure the al-Qaida andTaliban have not returned. U.S. forces also are searching areas inwhich members of the groups may be living.

Maj. Gen. Zannie O. Smith, deputy commander of Fort Bragg andthe 18th Airborne Corps, will be acting commander of the corps andinstallation while McNeill is away.

During the Gulf War, the general in charge of Fort Braggcommanded the corps' troops in Saudi Arabia and most of the commandstaff was sent to the region.

The corps, which has a staff of between 500 and 700, overseesfour divisions: the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg; the 10thMountain Division at Fort Drum, N.Y.; the 101st Airborne Divisionat Fort Campbell, Ky.; and the 3rd Infantry Division at FortStewart, Ga.

During the Gulf War, more than 30,000 personnel from Fort Braggand Pope Air Force Base were deployed.

The U.S. Army Special Operations Command, headquartered at FortBragg, has sent more than 2,000 soldiers overseas since October,and about one-third have come from Fort Bragg, said Carol Dabry, aUSASOC spokeswoman.

Copyright 2024 by WRAL.com and the Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.