- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 25, 2014

Roughly 500 soldiers from the U.S. Army’s 1st Infantry Division headquarters are headed to the Middle East, with 200 of them to end up in Iraq.

The deployment will be the first division headquarters in Iraq since 2011.

“They’re going to provide command and control of the ongoing advise-and-assist effort in support of Iraqi and peshmerga forces. And they’re going to continue to help us all degrade and destroy [the Islamic State group],” Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said Thursday, Stars and Stripes reported.

The soldiers out of Fort Riley, Kansas, will deploy sometime in late October.

Ten soldiers are already in Iraq preparing for the arrival of the troops, who will work out of joint operations centers in Baghdad, the Kurdish capital of Irbil, and the Iraqi defense ministry headquarters, the paper reported.

In a statement posted on its website, the division said the incoming troops will “advise and assist” the Iraqi Security Forces in the battle against the Islamic State, also known as ISIL or ISIS.

The troops will help conduct intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance flights, which the division said will “increase the United States’ capacity to target ISIL and coordinate the activities of the U.S. military across Iraq.”

Rick Brennan Jr., an analyst at the Rand Corporation and former Army officer, told the paper that he thinks “there’s been recognition that what the United States is doing in Iraq is going to be long-term.”

• Douglas Ernst can be reached at dernst@washingtontimes.com.

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