More than 2,000 Stryker Brigade Combat Team soldiers from Fort Wainwright are en route to Iraq — or soon will be — for a nine-month deployment.
The deployment officially began a little over two weeks ago, with a sendoff ceremony on Fort Wainwright. By the end of this month, more than half of the brigade assigned to Wainwright will be in Iraq.
“The deployments are ongoing right now, so … we’re well over halfway pushing soldiers out,” said Lt. Col. Drew Lynch.
Lynch is helping coordinate the movement of the seven Stryker battalions, which include cavalry, infantry, field artillery and engineer units. He said the soldiers fly out of Fairbanks on Army-contracted commercial airliners, but most of their gear is transported separately — initially via the Alaska Railroad to the Port of Alaska in Anchorage.
Lynch said the Stryker soldiers are part of a joint task force that will mainly be helping train Iraqi troops, law enforcement officers and others who maintain security in the Middle Eastern nation. But he said that doesn’t mean this deployment won’t be dangerous.
“Any deployment, especially to a Centcom region, has inherent dangers and inherent risk,” Lynch said. “But we’ve found through time that unless we do this by, with and through our partner nations, then there’s always the risk that they don’t grow the capacity, and that we end up going back in the future.”
The Stryker Brigade’s deployment to Iraq is in support of the Pentagon’s Operation Inherent Resolve.