Fort Bragg, N.C. – Paratroopers with the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, N.C., jump out of planes for a living.
In early August, the last battalion of 800 soldiers was just days away from getting on a plane for Afghanistan. At 3,000 strong, the 82nd will be the primary fighting force hunting for Taliban and Al Qaeda members.
"Our mission is pretty simple," said Maj. Gen. John Vines. "It's to go where they are, and capture or kill 'em — terrorists. That's it, pretty simple. Doing it is a lot harder."
Three 82nd Airborne paratroopers were recently wounded in eastern Afghanistan after getting into a firefight with the enemy while on patrol. None received life-threatening injuries, but the attack was more evidence that Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters have shifted to guerilla warfare — small surprise attacks on U.S. soldiers.
Back at Fort Bragg, the soldiers leaving knew the risks.
"I'm going to do my job and if I get shot at, I'm just going to go with the training we got trained on, and keep my guys alive," said Sgt. Lonn Rothey.
Paratroopers practice night-jumping while under helicopter fire, among other dangerous distractions. They also practice attack and clearing-out methods on buildings, although in Afghanistan, a cave could be a more likely hiding place for the enemy.
Much of the 82nd Airborne is now on the front lines of this battle. The rest were waiting for the next one.
"I have two kids of my own, and I know with what we're doing over there ... it'll allow them to grow up in a safe country," said Capt. Jason Curl.
Bret Baier is the Chief Political Anchor of Fox News Channel, and the Anchor & Executive Editor of "Special Report with Bret Baier.” His book, "Three Days in January: Dwight Eisenhower’s Final Mission," (William Morrow) is on sale now.