The 1st Infantry Division headquarters will deploy to Iraq in the coming weeks as the U.S. expands its war against the Islamic State, officials announced Thursday.
The Big Red One, of Fort Riley, Kansas, will be the first division headquarters to go to Iraq since the U.S. withdrawal in 2011.
About 500 soldiers will deploy in late October to the Central Command area of operations, Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said Thursday in a briefing with reporters.
About 200 of those soldiers will be in Iraq as part of the 475-troop increase announced Sept. 10 by President Obama, Kirby said.
Of that group, 138 will be in the Baghdad joint operations center, 68 in Irbil, and 10 at the Ministry of Defense in Baghdad, he said.
“They will have command and control of ongoing advise and assist efforts in support of Iraqi and Peshmerga forces, and continue to help us all degrade and destroy [the Islamic State],” Kirby said.
The remaining 300 soldiers from 1st Infantry Division headquarters will be based in the CENTCOM AOR; Kirby would not specify where they will be stationed. These soldiers will support the rest of the headquarters element, “but right now there’s no plan to put them inside Iraq,” Kirby said.
It should also be noted that one of 1st ID’s four brigade combat teams is already in Kuwait. This is a logical move. The CENTCOM element that was trying to provide command and control for US advisers and ancillary units can go back to being part of an echelon-above-corps headquarters, something it is designed to be. A division HQ gives the clout of a 2-star general plus the capabilities necessary to support an increasing number of allied players.