New 82nd Airborne Division commander takes over
FORT BRAGG (AP) ó A new commanding general who started his Army career in the famed 82nd Airborne Division is taking over as the unitís latest commanding general.
Maj. Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti will take command Wednesday during a ceremony at Fort Bragg.
Scaparrotti comes to the post from a job as director of operations at U.S. Central Command. The general began his career 25 years ago as a rifle platoon leader in the 3rd Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment. He also commanded the regiment from June 1999 to June 2001.
The former commander, Maj. Gen. David Rodriguez, left in July to become senior military assistant to Defense Secretary Robert Gates. Rodriguez was promoted to lieutenant general.
Rodriguez spent 15 months of his two-year term as division commander in Afghanistan.
The deployment pace at the 82nd will be brisk under Scaparrotti as well. About 8,000 82nd paratroopers from the 1st Brigade Combat Team and 4th Brigade Combat Team are scheduled to deploy to Iraq next year. The divisionís 3rd Brigade Combat Team already is preparing for deployment to Iraq in November.
The paratrooper brigades each have about 4,000 soldiers.
Once the other brigades deploy, the 82ndís headquarters and 2nd Brigade Combat Team will be the only major 82nd units left at Fort Bragg. The 82nd has about 20,000 soldiers.
North Carolina-based Marines also are preparing for deployments or already have been sent. The Department of Defense said Tuesday that 650 Marines from Camp Lejeuneís 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters will go to Iraqís Anbar province next year to relieve California-based troops.
The Pentagon already announced that Lejeune-based Regimental Combat Teams 6 and 8 also would deploy to Iraq in early 2009.
A Lejeune spokesman said the MEF has about 50,000 Marines assigned to it and about 15,000 are currently deployed.
On the Net:
2nd MEF: http://www.iimefpublic.usmc.mil/iimeffwd
82nd Airborne: http://www.bragg.army.mil/82DV/