Jump boots on the ground.
The 82nd Airborne, and more specifically its 3rd Brigade Combat Team, are no strangers to Iraq.
Since 2003, parts of the brigade have deployed in support of U.S. efforts there on at least three occasions.
Now, more than three years after the U.S. military presence in Iraq was thought over, about a quarter of the Panther Brigade will return with a new mission to help train Iraqi forces to fight IS.
About 1,000 paratroopers from the brigade will deploy this week as part of the Operation Inherent Resolve mission.
The deployment was officially announced in December and is expected to last nine months.
As his paratroopers prepared for the mission, the brigade commander, Col. Curtis A. Buzzard, has watched tensions boil in the Middle East – and Iraq in particular – as forces have fought against the Islamic State group, also known by the acronym DAESH based on the group’s Arabic name, ad-Dawlah al-Islamiyah fi al-Iraq wash-Sham.
“We’ve seen the impact of DAESH over the last year and a half, not just on Iraq, but on the region,” Buzzard said. “It’s clearly an existential threat.
“It’s an absolutely brutal element that has impacts all across the region and instability in the region and you can see that clearly in Syria, Iraq, potentially Libya and Yemen,” he said. “The world can’t stand by and watch.”
Starting this week, Buzzard’s troops are done watching.
They’ll join about 250 paratroopers from the brigade already deployed to provide security to U.S. personnel.
But these latest troops will instead advise and assist Iraqi forces with the planning and execution of the counter offensive against ISIS.