Role Of 82nd Airborne Continues To Expand
Posted July 1, 2004 6:28 a.m. EDT
FORT BRAGG, N.C. — When people think about the war on terror, many picture soldiers parachuting behind enemy lines, but the Army only has one division which still jumps into combat. The new leader of the
at Fort Bragg said his soldiers are doing all kinds of new things and jumping is just how they get there.
When Maj. Gen. Bill Caldwell IV took command of the 82nd Airborne Division, he inherited a division that prides itself on being ready.
"If President [George W.] Bush picks up that phone and dials 911, on the other line he hears, '82nd Airborne Division -- Sir, what can we do for you?" Caldwell said.
If paratroopers get that call, they pledge to be anywhere in the world within 18 hours. The entire division is back in Fort Bragg for the first time in a long time. Officials said what the troops have been doing overseas is more than just jumping into a new terroritory.
"He [A troop], on the one hand, can fight an enemy and, on the other hand, help people in a variety of important ways," said Dr. John Duvall, of the Airborne and Special Operations Museum.
"They can help people in the city to re-establish their way of life or to establish a way of life they would expect," said Col. Michael Ferriter, of the 82nd Airborne Division.
So far, the soldiers have taken part in 32,000 combat patrols, helped to create jobs in Iraq and rebuild schools. The 82nd Airborne Division has about 15,000 paratroopers.