On Tuesday, Iranian-backed Shiite militiamen carried out an assault on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. Groups of protesters also stormed the compound, hanging a poster on the wall that read: “America is an aggressor.”
This isn’t an isolated incident. On Sunday, the U.S. carried out airstrikes in response to rocket attacks on American bases in both Syria and Iraq, wherein one U.S. contractor was killed and four soldiers wounded.
The 750-strong battalion from Ft. Bragg deployed within a mere 18 hours of being called upon — which is part of being in a “rapid-deployment” brigade that’s set to be ready to go at any moment. The 82nd Airborne Division has two other battalions in this brigade; one can deploy with 36 hours notice, and the other with 45.
In addition, 100 Marines from the 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines arrived Tuesday morning to provide extra security. 4,000 more soldiers are waiting on potential orders to deploy. According to Military.com, Iraq currently hosts around 5,000 American troops, and there are approximately 60,000 in the Middle East as a whole. 14,000 have deployed since May as tensions in the region continue to escalate.
Conflict With Iran Nears Breaking Point
Back in November, we reported on troop deployments to Saudi Arabia after an attack on a critical oil processing facility, thought to be perpetrated by Iran. The United State’s relationship with Iran has been declining since President Trump pulled out of the Iranian Nuclear Deal in 2018 and is worsening by the day.
After the attack on the Abqaiq oil facility, around 3,000 troops were sent to the region, with plans to send approx. 1,500 more in May 2020. But according to the New York Times, the Pentagon is prepared to deploy 120,000 soldiers if Iran attacks the U.S. directly.
On January 2, a U.S. airstrike near the Baghdad airport killed Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, who has been referred to as “the international face of resistance,” and was the head of the Quds Force. Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy commander of Iranian-backed militias in Iraq, as well as five other men were also killed in the airstrike.
The DoD has stated that Soleimani was responsible for the attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and was planning further attacks on U.S. troops. It has not yet provided evidence to back up this claim, and critics such as Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal are demanding an explanation.
“The present authorizations for use of military force in no way cover starting a possible new war. This step could bring the most consequential military confrontation in decades,” he said.
Iran’s response is chilling. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said: “harsh retaliation is waiting” for the U.S. And an advisor to Iran’s president also warned of retaliation, writing: “Trump through his gamble has dragged the U.S. into the most dangerous situation in the region.”
State television in Iran has dubbed the U.S. airstrike “the biggest miscalculation by the U.S.” since World War II. “The people of the region will no longer allow Americans to stay.”
Will More Troops Deploy?
It’s highly likely that we will see more orders for deployment in the coming days, weeks, and months, and military families should be prepared for these orders to come at any moment.
Rapid deployment forces are essential to the efficiency and power of the U.S. military. The 82nd Airborne Division, which just deployed, and the 75th Ranger Regiment are both examples of a rapid deployment force. These forces are expected to deploy in set periods of times — within 45, 36, or even just 18 hours of notice.
If you’re a military family member, you may already know if your loved one is a member of a rapid deployment force, but it couldn’t hurt to ask them more about their unit and position and how current conflicts may affect them. It will help give you peace of mind and prepare you for a potential deployment or assignment in the future.
As many military spouses can attest: Holidays, birthdays, and other milestones don’t come in the way of deployment orders. There’s no real time or circumstance that is safe from them. Unfortunately, soldiers at Ft. Bragg rang in this New Year with goodbyes to their loved ones. Our hearts go out to them, and every other service member and military family who is currently experiencing the hardship of deployment.