Soldiers with the 82nd Airborne Division and the 18th Airborne Corps out of Fort Bragg are among the 8,500 military troops placed on a heightened preparedness to deploy should Russia invade Ukraine, Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby said during a news conference Thursday.
As of 9 p.m. Thursday, those soldiers had not been activated.
A spokesman for Fort Bragg could not be reached for comment Thursday night. Phone messages and emails left with Fort Bragg public affairs were not immediately answered.
According to a news story posted on the Department of Defense website, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III placed elements of a range of U.S. military units on high readiness for possible deployment.
“These units include elements of the 82nd Airborne Division, based at Fort Bragg. Which regularly, I think you all know, maintains high readiness, as well as elements of the 18th Airborne Corps, also based at Fort Bragg and some elements from Fort Campbell, Kentucky," Kirby said during a news conference.
"Additionally, from Fort Campbell, elements of the 101st Airborne Division, and from Fort Carson, Colorado, elements of the Fourth Infantry Division, have also been placed on increased readiness," he said.
Kirby added that more units, which will now have an increased readiness posture, also include elements from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona; Fort Hood, Texas; Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington; Fort Polk, Louisiana; Robins Air Force Base, Georgia; Fort Stewart, Georgia; Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio; and select additional locations across the nation.
"These units, all told, include medical support, aviation support, logistics support and of course, combat formations," Kirby said at the news conference, emphasizing that these forces are on a heightened preparedness to deploy and have not been activated.
On Monday, the Defense Department placed 8,500 U.S.-based service members on heightened alert – without naming the military units they were being selected from – for deployment to Europe in response to the escalating crisis with Russia over Ukraine.
Fort Bragg would not say Tuesday if soldiers there would be deployed.
“The 82nd has an immediate response alert so we’re always on heightened alert,” Lt. Col. Brett Lea, a spokesman for the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, said at the time.
Last week, President Joe Biden said he had warned Russian President Vladimir Putin that an invasion of Ukraine would cause the U.S. to send more troops to the region. On Sunday, the State Department ordered the families of diplomats in Ukraine to leave the country.
On Monday, North Carolina Republican Sen. Thom Tillis called for an aggressive stance against Russia and Putin.
“That must start with imposing robust economic sanctions against Putin’s inner circle and casting Russia as a pariah state,” Tillis said in a news release posted on his website. “Democracy is in danger in Europe. We must clarify our support for Ukraine and do everything in our power to protect our allies.”
Kirby said during the news conference that the vast majority of the troops placed on heightened readiness to deploy are dedicated to the NATO Response Force.
He did not give a breakdown on the troops.
“And if and when they're activated, we'll be able to provide more specific detail in terms of breakdowns in numbers going forward,’’ Kirby said.
Michael Futch covers Fayetteville and education for CityView TODAY. He can be reached at email@example.com. Have a news tip? Email news@CityViewTODAY.com.