NC-Based Paratroopers Deploy To Bolster Iraq Force

Paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division are deploying this week for Kuwait to bolster troops already in the region.

A spokesman for the division says soldiers from the 35-hundred-member 2nd Brigade Combat Team began leaving Tuesday. Defense Secretary Robert Gates signed orders late last month to send the brigade to Kuwait after a Marine unit that had been a reserve force was sent into Iraq.

Paratroopers from the 82nd have been sent three times in two years to Iraq and Afghanistan. The latest deployment is the first time since its soldiers were sent to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina that a brigade has deployed so rapidly.

Soldiers being sent overseas include paratroopers of a battalion that returned before Christmas from five months in Iraq, where four of its members were killed.

The 3rd Brigade Combat Team already is in Iraq and expected to return in August.