WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Sept. 25, 2014) - Soldiers from the "Big Red One" 1st Infantry Division headquarters will deploy to Iraq next month from Fort Riley, Kansas, DOD officials announced today.
"Yesterday the secretary (of Defense) signed a deployment for about 500 Soldiers from 1st ID headquarters," Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said at a Pentagon news conference.
About 200 of the 1st ID Soldiers will go to Iraq and another 300 will be elsewhere in the Central Command area of responsibility.
Of the division Soldiers deploying to Iraq, 138 will go to Bagdad and another 68 will serve in Erbil, near where Peshmerga (Kurdish) troops are pushing back forces of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, known as ISIL, from the borders of Kurdistan.
In Baghdad, 1ID Soldiers will staff the Joint Operations Center and provide command and control of U.S. troops in the country, who are advising and assisting Iraqi security forces. Division Soldiers will also conduct intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance flights, according to 1st ID leaders. They said this will "increase the United States' capacity to target ISIL and coordinate the activities of the U.S. military across Iraq."
For the past three months, the Joint Operations Center in Baghdad has been headed up by Maj. Gen. Dana Pittard, deputy commanding general of operations for U.S. Army Central Command. Maj. Gen. Paul E. Funk, 1st ID commander, will replace Pittard in late October, officials said.
"As brave, responsible and on-point Soldiers in the 'Big Red One,' we stand ready to deploy anywhere in the world to protect the United States of America, her citizens and her allies," Funk said in a statement today posted on the Fort Riley webpage. "We are ready for anything because we know we have the nation behind us."
The Big Red One Soldiers will replace service members who have been in Iraq since June. The division headquarters should not be confused with an additional six Advise and Assist Teams from elsewhere that will embed with various Iraqi headquarters, Kirby said.
The 1st Infantry Division headquarters and headquarters battalion last deployed to Afghanistan in 2012, as Task Force Defender, Regional Command East. The headquarters returned to Fort Riley in March 2013.