Why North Carolina Is Sending So Many Troops To The Middle East

82nd Airborne paratroopers marching at Fort Bragg
Credit Sgt. Kissta M. Feldner / U.S. Military

Iranian airstrikes on two U.S. military bases in Iraq yesterday marked a response to the assassination of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani. In the past week, thousands of soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg rapidly deployed to the Middle East and Marines from Camp Lejeune are now also on their way to reinforce U.S. military presence.

As tensions escalate, big political and public policy questions remain: Why did President Trump take this specific action at this time? Who will support U.S. military action in the Middle East moving forward? And will the Iraqi government will continue to allow foreign military presence in the country?

Meanwhile, families in North Carolina navigate the uncertainty of rapid deployment and a shift in military strategy. Host Frank Stasio talks to Jay Price, WUNC’s military and veterans affairs reporter, about his reporting on the ground at Fort Bragg and the mission and strategy of the 82nd Airborne. Also joining the conversation is Patricia Sullivan, associate professor of public policy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and director of the Triangle Institute for Security Studies.

Then, scholar Omid Safi details the cultural importance of sites in Iran that Trump threatened to strike. Safi grew up in war-torn Iran and has been living in the U.S. since the 1980s. He details his conversations with other Iranian-Americans about their fears of retaliation.