U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III is scheduled to visit Fort Bragg on Tuesday to welcome the 18th Airborne Corps back from its deployment to Europe in the midst of the Russian-Ukraine conflict, according to the U.S. Department of Defense.
During his visit, the Department of Defense said, Austin “will receive unit briefings, conduct troop engagements and host a spouse roundtable.”
This marks Austin’s first visit to the corps headquarters during his stint as secretary of defense.
“This was a historic mission for America’s Contingency Corps,” Command Sgt. Maj. T.J. Holland, senior enlisted advisor for the 18th Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg, said in a release. “This was the first time the corps has deployed to the European continent since World War II, and the commander and I are proud of every one of our soldiers who rapidly deployed to reassure our allies and partners, and showing the American people the Army’s standards of readiness and perseverance this organization embodies.”
The 18th Airborne Corps headquarters has officially returned from Europe where this nation’s Contingency Corps rapidly deployed to Germany in support of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and to assure America’s European allies and partners that this country had their backs.
In February, more than 300 personnel from the corps headquarters deployed from Fort Bragg to provide a Joint Task Force-capable headquarters in Wiesbaden, Germany. Austin directed the deployment as a response to a heightened security environment in Eastern Europe and to reinforce NATO’s eastern flank.
“It’s an incredible honor to serve alongside the men and women of the 18th Airborne Corps,” Lt. Gen. Christopher T. Donahue, the commanding general of the 18th Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg, said in the release. “Our soldiers answered the nation’s call by supporting our European Allies and partners during a historic period. We thank them and their families for their sacrifice and welcome them back home to the place that is the beacon of liberty.”
The deployment came “... in the face of Russia’s aggressive actions and unprovoked and unjust invasion of Ukraine,” according to the 18th Airborne Corps release. “... The United States temporarily deployed approximately 20,000 additional forces and now has approximately 100,000 U.S. service members throughout Europe.”
The corps has earned a reputation as “America’s strategic response force, capable of deploying on short notice anywhere in the world by air, land or sea to conduct unified land operations as an Army, Joint or Combined Task Force Headquarters,” the release said.
“The 18th Airborne Corps’ mission was vital and ever changing,’’ the corps said in the release, "deploying to bolster capabilities inside NATO’s eastern flank and evolving by serving as the centerpiece for the train-and-equip mission to support Ukraine in the defense of its nation.”
Michael Futch covers Fayetteville and education for CityView. He can be reached at email@example.com.