L25ArcticThrust

Stryker vehicles wait to be loaded for transport onto flatbed rail cars as part of Arctic Thrust, a major deployment readiness exercise on Fort Wainwright Thursday afternoon, January 25, 2018. Two infantry battalions from the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team are taking part in the exercise, which is designed to test the deployment systems from "Fort to Port" and will be used to validate the command's ability to rapidly deploy multiple battalion-sized force packages quickly. For the exercise scenario, the battalions were alerted at Fort Wainwright of a notional short-notice deployment requiring moving the units to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson by air, rail and road in 25-below zero temperatures. The exercise includes personnel from the Army and Air Force at Fort Wainwright, Eielson and JBER, as well as the Alaska Railroad. Eric Engman/News-Miner

Roughly 2,200 soldiers from Fort Wainwright’s 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division are serving in Iraq. The soldiers were flown to the country in batches over several months beginning in August for a deployment that is expected to last nine months. 

Military spokesmen have not disclosed any of the locations in which the soldiers are based. Maj. Charlie Dietz, the Fort Wainwright brigade’s public affairs officer, told the Daily News-Miner in August that the soldiers will be traveling and working throughout the country in “multiple locations.”

While the positions of the soldiers remain undisclosed, the Department of Defense revealed the location of a Fort Wainwright soldier who died in a noncombat situation in October. Sgt. Nathaneil George Irish, 23, died at Camp Taji, which is roughly 20 miles north of Baghdad.

Camp Taji is roughly 150 and 200 miles from both of the Iraqi military bases at Al-Assad and Irbil, where U.S. forces were attacked by a missile strike from Iran’s Revolutionary Guards on Tuesday.

The Fort Wainwright deployment, which consists of about half of the Stryker Brigade, saw soldiers replace the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division as part of a regular rotation of forces.

The Department of Defense established its current operation in Iraq in October 2014. The operation’s purpose is to drive out remaining ISIS forces in designated areas of Iraq and Syria and to set conditions for follow-on operations to increase regional stability. 

This is the Stryker Brigade’s third deployment to Iraq. It has also deployed to Afghanistan, which was the location of its most recent deployment in 2011 and 2012.

A little over 2,000 Stryker Brigade soldiers remain at Fort Wainwright, where training is continuing. According to Dietz, roughly a third of those soldiers are ready to deploy to Iraq if needed.

Contact staff writer Alistair Gardiner at 459-7575. Follow him on Twitter: @FDNMoutdoors.