About 2,000 Alaska-based troops are in Iraq as conflict with Iran flares

Soldiers from Fort Wainwright who deployed to Iraq this summer — part of the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division — will help protect Iraqi bases in the wake of missile attacks by Iran on Tuesday, a statement provided by the brigade said.

Airmen with the Alaska Air National Guard’s 176th wing based at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson are also serving at an undisclosed location in the Middle East as tension in the region mounts, an official said.

Iran on Tuesday launched at least a dozen ballistic missiles against U.S. military and coalition forces in Iraq, targeting at least two Iraqi military bases at Al-Assad and Irbil, said Alyssa Farah, Department of Defense press secretary, on Twitter. The attacks came in response to the U.S. killing by drone strike of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani.

President Donald Trump in an address to the nation on Wednesday said no Americans were harmed in the missile attacks, thanks to a successful early warning system and the dispersal of U.S. forces.

“We suffered no casualties,” he said. “All of our soldiers are safe and only minimal damage was sustained at our military bases.”

He said no Iraqi lives were lost, and Iran appears to be standing down.

More than 2,000 soldiers, about half the brigade, deployed to Iraq in August for an expected nine-month period, according to news accounts at the time. They replaced the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division.


The soldiers are part of Operation Inherent Resolve, the U.S. military’s name for the effort to combat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS.

About 5,000 U.S. troops are deployed in Iraq.

Sgt. Nicholas Vidro, a noncommissioned officer in charge of public affairs for the brigade, said Tuesday night that he could not disclose the unit’s location in Iraq, or comment on the missile strikes.

[Trump administration insists U.S. military will remain in Iraq]

The Coalition Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve said in a statement Tuesday: “We are now fully committed to protecting the Iraqi bases that host Coalition troops."

Also, some members of the Alaska Air Guard deployed to the Middle East in recent months to the U.S. Central Command area of operations, said Lt. Col. Candis Olmstead, director of public affairs for the Alaska National Guard.

She said she could not provide the specific country or base they are located at.

“All our personnel are safe and accounted for,” she said Tuesday night.

Alex DeMarban

Alex DeMarban is a longtime Alaska journalist who covers business, the oil and gas industries and general assignments. Reach him at 907-257-4317 or