BAGHDAD (Army News Service, Jan. 22, 2007) - The 82nd Airborne Division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team arrived in Baghdad last week as part of the first wave of a planned escalation of forces in Iraq's capital city.
The paratroopers from the 2nd "Falcon" Brigade, who had been based in Kuwait as a ready reserve since early January, are to be followed over the next several months by four more combat brigades, bolstering U.S. forces in Baghdad by approximately 20,000 Soldiers. The increase in troops is designed to help clamp down on violence in the city and pave the way for the Iraqi government to assume full control of Baghdad's security.
The 2nd BCT will be organized under the Multi-National Division - Baghdad, headed by the 1st Cavalry Division. The brigade will conduct operations in conjunction with the Iraqi security forces. As part of its mission, the Falcons will send paratroopers into some of Baghdad's most volatile areas to pursue a "clear, hold and build" strategy against insurgents.
"Our mission will be to secure our area of operation, hold that area, and then, at a said time, to turn that area over to the ISF," said Sgt. Maj. John Bagby, the brigade's operations sergeant major.
Paratroopers' special training and ability to adapt to changing circumstances makes them uniquely suited to overcome the obstacles of counter-insurgency warfare, Bagby said.
"They can turn on a dime if necessary, change missions, and still go out and execute," he said. "There's no doubt in my mind that paratroopers from the Falcon Brigade are ready to go out into sector and take the fight to the enemy."
The Falcon Brigade is one of the most combat-experienced units in the Army. Paratroopers from the 2nd BCT have deployed six times on short-notice deployments since the war on terrorism began.
For many Soldiers, this deployment marks their third or fourth tour of duty in Iraq.
One of the 2nd BCT's battalions just returned from a deployment in December, spending only weeks at home before being sent to Kuwait. Even so, there was little surprise within the brigade that the mission of spearheading the surge into Baghdad was given to the Falcons.
"Our Soldiers are willing to do whatever we ask them to do," said Capt. Priscilla Smoot, commander of Company A, 407th Brigade Support Battalion. "Paratroopers in the 82nd have always had that attitude."
The Falcons arrived in Baghdad trained, equipped and ready to fight. Now that they've put boots on the ground, it will be up to the young paratroopers and junior noncommissioned officers to make sure the mission gets completed, said Staff Sgt. Jack Butler, a platoon sergeant with Company C, 1st Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment. Butler said he has no doubt they will rise to the challenge.
"Whatever they put out in front of us," he said, "we're going to be able to tackle."