FORT BRAGG (AP) — Fort Bragg soldiers deploying to the Middle East will be tasked with helping deliver a fatal blow against the Islamic State group, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said.
Carter visited Fort Bragg on Wednesday and spoke to about 75 soldiers from the 18th Airborne Corps set to deploy soon.
President Barack Obama ordered an additional 560 troops to support Iraqi forces in their offensive to retake the northern Iraqi city of Mosul from Islamic State. Allied forces also aim to wrest control of Islamic State’s capital city of Raqqa in Syria, Carter said.
“I’m calling on you, and the president, and the country and the world are counting on you to take the next steps, execute our next plays, so that we can help our partners,” Carter said, according to a transcript of his remarks.
Hundreds of 18th Airborne soldiers will staff headquarters operations in Iraq as Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend takes over command of the American contingent of the coalition fighting Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
Another 300 Fort Bragg soldiers from a field artillery brigade are deploying next month to join the fight against ISIS, The Fayetteville Observer reported.
Carter broadly outlined the U.S.-led coalition’s strategy for recapturing Mosul. He said the Iraqi security forces will push from the south, along the Tigris River, and the Iraqi Kurdish militia, known as the Peshmerga, will push from the north.
U.S. service members will focus on helping Iraqi forces pursue mopping-up operations, according to the Pentagon.