Fort Wainwright to send thousands of soldiers to Iraq
Fort Wainwright will send more than 2,000 soldiers to Iraq on a deployment in the coming months, which could last nearly a year.
U.S. Army Alaska officials announced Friday that members of Fort Wainwright’s 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division will be sent to Iraq in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, the U.S. military’s ongoing support effort to defeat ISIS. The 1/25 soldiers will rotate in to replace members of the 101st Airborne Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team.
“The Arctic Wolves are trained, equipped, and exceptionally well led at echelon. The brigade has readied itself for any mission,” said Col. Matthew W. Brown, the 1/25’s commander. "We are privileged to be joining the international coalition that will defeat ISIS and set conditions for increased regional stability."
Maj. Charlie Dietz, a spokesman for the 1/25, said in an email Friday that about half of the brigade’s 4,800 soldiers are set to deploy on the mission. The soldiers will not be accompanied by their regular complement of Stryker personnel carriers, fitted with remotely operated .50-caliber machine guns.
“With this mission, the focus is mainly on advising and assisting, thus [we] are not planning on sending forward our usual Stryker package,” Dietz wrote. “We will be leaving this fall and should be back by the end of summer, 2020, if the current trend of [brigade combat team] timelines remains the same — though it's always mission-dependent.”
After the deaths of three Fort Wainwright soldiers this year, as well as a request from Rep. Don Young, the Army’s Medical Command is sending a team to examine a perceived rise in suicides at the fort. None of this year’s deaths have been ruled suicides by Army investigators, but one of the three men — Spc. Ashvin James Slaughter, found dead Jan. 18 in a company arms room — was a Stryker driver with the 1/25.
Asked about suicide-prevention resources available to the soldiers headed overseas, U.S. Army Alaska spokesman John Pennell said the deployment “will not affect the installation's ability to deliver services and support to the Fort Wainwright community.”
“Also, as always, the brigade's preparations for deployment include establishment of a rear detachment of those soldiers and leaders who do not deploy, who will remain engaged with the soldiers and families remaining in Fairbanks,” Pennell wrote in an email. “Between the resources provided by the rear detachment and the Fort Wainwright garrison, soldiers and families will continue to receive the best support and services.”
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