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US fast-response force scrambles to Mideast

Being a U.S. soldier in a fast-response force sometimes means being sent halfway across the world within a day, leaving no time to say goodbye to those staying behind.

April Shumard, her husband a member of the 82 Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, got the call to bug out on very short notice. He was at home, with their five children while April was at work at Healing Hands day spa, when he sent her a text. He had to rush to base. He wasn’t sure if it was a drill or a deployment. Then she got another text: “We’re leaving tomorrow.”

Her husband has been in the military since 2010 and has already deployed twice to Afghanistan. But with those prior instances, the family had much more time to prepare and say goodbye.

“The kids kept going, ‘When’s Dad going to be home?’” said Shumard, 42.

Her husband was among hundreds of U.S. soldiers deployed Saturday from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, to Kuwait to serve as reinforcements in the Middle East amid rising tensions following the U.S. killing of a top Iranian general.

Lt. Col. Mike Burns, a spokesman for the 82nd Airborne Division, told The Associated Press 3,500 members of the division’s quick-deployment brigade, known officially as its Immediate Response Force, will have deployed within a few days. The most recent group of service members to deploy will join about 700 who left earlier in the week, Burns said.

“We’re responsible for loading the cargo. Almost our whole squadron got alerted. Like a bunch of planes are coming over here,” the unnamed airman said. “I was getting ready to go out for New Year’s when they called me.”

In the gray early morning light Saturday, Army video showed soldiers dressed in camouflage fatigues filing into planes, carrying rucksacks and rifles. Humvees were rolled onto another cargo plane and chained in place for the flight to the Middle East.

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US fast-response force scrambles to Mideast

by Sonia Landry time to read: 1 min
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