82nd Airborne to Relieve 101st in Afghanistan

The Army intends to send about 3,000 troops from the 82nd Airborne Division to Afghanistan this summer to relieve 101st Airborne Division soldiers who have been there since January, a senior Pentagon official said Thursday.

The move is roughly a one-for-one rotation and will not expand U.S. ground combat power in Afghanistan, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. The plan was first reported in Thursday's editions of The Washington Post.

The total number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan is about 7,000. That number will temporarily bulge during the hand The 82nd Airborne has not yet received a deployment order for Afghanistan, but a division spokesman, Maj. Richard Patterson said earlier this week the division was told to "plan for possible operations" in support of the war on terrorism.

"We do not have any time line, numbers, units or any of that," Patterson said Wednesday. "We are in the planning phase. We're not rolling anybody out in the next day or two."

The 82nd Airborne, based at Fort Bragg, N.C., has about 14,000 paratroopers. A brigade, consisting of about 2,000 troops, is always ready to deploy anywhere in the work within 18 hours of being told to go.

The division is part of the 18th Airborne Corps, also headquartered at Fort Bragg. About 300 members of the corps' command headquarters, including post commander Lt. Gen. Dan McNeill, are being sent to Afghanistan this month to oversee operations.