FORT BRAGG, N.C. (WNCN) — Five thousand troops from Fort Bragg’s 82nd Airborne Division are deploying to the Middle East as the Taliban seizes more territory in Afghanistan.
Once the brigade lands in Kuwait, the Pentagon says their mission will be to standby in case more help is needed to evacuate Americans from the U.S. embassy in Kabul.
“I love the 82nd,” said Mark Velazco, who says he served with the division from 1982 to 1986. “I think the 82nd does good peacekeeping and I think the 82nd is a good unit to send.”
The Pentagon said the deployment will not include combat. Families and veterans at the National Airborne Day celebration at the U.S. Army Airborne and Special Operations are praying for an easy mission and a safe return home.
“I know lots of people who have been activated,” said Emily Susman, who has a husband in the army. “Anybody who lives in this community will be affected or touched by people going overseas.”
She added, “Let’s hope for everybody to do what they’re supposed to do nice and easily and have it not be very difficult, and everybody come home safe.”
The sudden decision to deploy troops comes weeks before President Joe Biden’s goal of ending the war and withdrawing from Afghanistan by Aug. 31.
On Saturday, President Biden ordered another 1,000 troops from the 82nd Airborne at Fort Bragg to join the operation, bringing the total to 5,000.
“You know, I think we’ve been in too many wars and it’s good that we’re pulling out,” Velazco said about ending the war. “But then again, you see some of the things that happen overseas with the Taliban and things like that. So I don’t know, it’s kind of a catch 22.”
Susman added, “We’ve spent 20 years and countless dollars trying to help and it doesn’t feel like we’ve really gotten there when it’s all been undone in about a week.”