The 82nd Airborne Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team – put on alert Friday – will be deploying to Kuwait, two U.S. defense officials tell Fox News.
A battalion of some 750 paratroopers deployed this week from the 82nd Airborne, but now, in the wake of the death of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, the rest of the brigade, more than 3,000, is joining them.
The Pentagon confirmed Thursday evening that Trump had ordered the attack that killed Soleimani and other military officials at Baghdad International Airport. Iran’s top “shadow commander” was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American and coalition service members and the wounding of thousands more, according to the State Department.
Following Soleimani's death, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei claimed that "harsh retaliation is waiting for the criminals whose filthy hands spilled his blood." The U.S. State Department issued a security alert Friday morning urging all U.S. citizens to “depart Iraq immediately” due to heightened tensions in the region.
An alert brigade of roughly 4,000 paratroopers, known as the DRB – the Division Ready Brigade – had been told to pack their bags for a possible deployment in the days ahead, after hundreds of Iranian-backed militiamen tried to storm the U.S. embassy in Baghdad Tuesday.
The U.S. Army always keeps an alert brigade of roughly 4,000 paratroopers in the 82nd Airborne for a crisis response like this.
There are roughly 5,000 U.S. troops currently deployed to Iraq, and about 60,000 in the region. Some 14,000 have been added since May as the threat from Iran increased, according to the Pentagon.
The aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman is currently in the Gulf of Oman. Her strike group is armed with hundreds of Tomahawk cruise missiles, in addition to the dozens of strike aircraft aboard Truman.
The new deployment comes after over 100 U.S. Marines arrived at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad earlier this week to help bolster security after a mob of Iranian-backed Shite militiamen tried to storm the U.S. embassy in Baghdad.
The crowd attacked the embassy following funerals for 25 Iranian-backed fighters killed in U.S. airstrikes Sunday in Iraq and Syria--retribution for an American defense contractor killed in Iraq Friday, according to US defense officials.
A Department of Defense spokesperson told Fox News Friday: "As previously announced, the Immediate Response Force (IRF) brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division was alerted to prepare for deployment, and are now being deployed.
"One battalion of the IRF was deployed to the AOR. At the same time, the remainder of the brigade was placed on 96-hour notice. This deployment was an anticipated and expected outcome when they were placed on notice. The brigade will deploy to Kuwait as an appropriate and precautionary action in response to increased threat levels against U.S. personnel and facilities, and will assist in reconstituting the reserve."
Fox News' Danielle Wallace contributed to this report.