Chmiel/iStock(FORT BRAGG, N.C.) — Fort Bragg welcomed home 800 soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division Thursday. They had been rushed to the Middle East in late December to assist with regional security after protesters attacked the U.S. embassy in Baghdad.It was unclear when the remaining 2,700 soldiers who were deployed to Kuwait in the days that followed, will return to the United States as well. The bulk of the 82nd Airborne’s 1st Brigade rushed from North Carolina to the region as tensions with Iran were heightened following the U.S. drone strike in January that killed a top Iranian general.“Nearly 800 Paratroopers from the 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, along with members of the 3rd Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, the 3rd Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment and several enabler teams from the Immediate Response Force Brigade (IRF) began their redeployment from the Middle East back to Fort Bragg, N.C.,” according to a statement from the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division.“The remainder of the 1st Brigade Combat Team remains deployed providing support to the CENTCOM Commander for any missions deemed necessary,” the statement continued.A complement of about 500 troops from the 82nd Airborne Division’s 1st Brigade was ordered to rush to Kuwait on Dec. 31, following the storming of the outside perimeter of the U.S. embassy in Baghdad by Iranian-backed militiamen. Hundreds of these forces were surged into Baghdad as reinforcements, while hundreds of U.S. military forces serving in administrative roles were taken out of Iraq.The entire 3,500-soldier unit was ordered to Kuwait following the heightened tensions with Iran after the Jan. 2 U.S. drone strike in Baghdad that killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the top commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force.The drone strike led to concerns that the United States and Iran might be drawn into a regional conflict, but tensions eased following Iran’s retaliatory missile strike on two bases in Iraq that housed American troops.A U.S. defense official said that the 800 troops that returned to Fort Bragg were among the first to have deployed to Iraq shortly after Iranian-backed protesters stormed the outside perimeter of the U.S. embassy in Baghdad.“The situation is more stable,” said the defense official when asked why the troops were returning to the United States.But the official noted that while U.S. military commanders continue to assess the Iranian threat situation in the region, it was determined that enabler units that might not be fully needed for the ongoing mission could be redeployed back to the United States.“We could not be more proud of these Paratroopers and it is an honor to welcome them home,” said Maj. Gen. James Mingus, the 82nd Airborne Division commanding general. “These great men and women honored the tradition of Paratroopers that came before them by answering their Nation’s call on a moment’s notice.”While deployed to Kuwait the 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment served as U.S. Central Command’s Immediate Response Battalion and carried out realistic training in case they were needed elsewhere. Now, back at Fort Bragg, the unit will prepare for an upcoming exercise in Europe this Spring.Designed to deploy anywhere in the world within 18 hours of receiving the orders, the Immediate Response Force Brigade’s deployment in January was described as the most significant no-notice deployment of combat forces in 30 years.Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.
Full Name* Message* New York state Sen. Michael Gianaris (Getty, iStock)New York will no longer offer some state tax benefits to real estate investors funding Opportunity Zone projects, dealing another blow to the program and developers taking advantage of it.A measure pushed by New York state Sen. Michael Gianaris to decouple New York state’s capital gains tax code from the federal program was included in the recently passed state budget. The change means developers and investors cannot defer state taxes on profits from asset sales poured into Opportunity Zone funds.“Opportunity Zones are nothing more than a giveaway of public money to wealthy developers, and I’m glad New York took a stand against the much-abused program,” Gianaris said in a statement. The state’s action was previously reported by the New York Daily News.ADVERTISEMENTNew York joins North Carolina, California, Massachusetts and Mississippi in separating its state tax regime from the federal Opportunity Zones program.The program, which was created by Republicans’ 2017 tax overhaul, lets investors and developers defer or forgo some capital gains taxes by funding projects in any of 8,700 Opportunity Zones across the country.New York has 514 census tracts included in the program. Developers will still qualify for federal tax breaks for investing in those so-called distressed areas.Read moreHere’s what a President Biden would do to Opportunity Zones Unions, nonprofits push NY to drop Opportunity Zones NY pols take aim at Opportunity Zones Email Address* It’s unclear if there will be any immediate or major ramifications for Opportunity Zone projects in the state. Ken Weissenberg, a tax partner at EisnerAmper, said the elimination of the tax benefit makes New York more unfriendly to investors.“[It’s] another wedge to drive people out of New York,” said Weissenberg.But Daniel Ryan, a tax attorney at Sullivan & Worcester, believes that the impact of the state’s measure will be marginal. He said his clients are more interested in the federal tax benefit or whether a project makes financial sense.“I don’t think state tax moves the needle,” said Ryan.More than two dozen groups, including the New York State United Teachers and Communication Workers of America, recently wrote a memo supporting the elimination of the tax break. Those groups argued that the program could cost New York City and state up to $63 million in tax revenue during a “historic budget crisis.” (Legislators ultimately raised taxes $4.3 billion in passing a record-high $212 billion budget.)The program purports to uplift low-income communities, but critics say the only thing it does for sure is save developers money. A small number of areas where development was already occurring — such as Hudson Yards on Manhattan’s Far West Side, or parts of Long Island City — make up the bulk of Opportunity Zones in the city.President Joe Biden has said he intends to keep the Opportunity Zones program, but add transparency measures to see if it is actually helping low-income people.Contact Keith Larsen