first published on January 6, 2020 by Will
Amid escalating tensions between the US and Iran, thousands more combat troops are headed to the Middle East, including paratroopers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade and the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit.
Stars and Stripes quoted a 173rd Airborne Brigade spokesman as saying that paratroopers from the Italy-based Brigade were deploying to the region. However, he did not indicate how many soldiers were getting deployed, nor where they would be operating.
The Marine Corps Times reported that the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit canceled their role in Exercise African Sea Lion to rapidly deploy to the Mediterranean Sea to bolster regional forces in the face of a US-Iran standoff.
Interestingly, a leaked letter drafted from Marine Brig. Gen. William Seely, the Commander of Task Force Iraq, addressed to an Iraq Ministry Defense official, gave notice of intensified helicopter activity around the Green Zone to facilitate a safe and efficient movement out of Iraq.
The final sentence read: “We respect your sovereign decision to order our departure.” The letter was reported by Reuters and other major networks as a US withdrawal notification before being edited when Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said the letter was not accurate, and there is no current plan to leave Iraq.