The 450 deployed Fort Hood troops assigned to III Corps Headquarters in the Middle East now know who will replace them in a few months in the fight against Islamic State.

The Army announced on Saturday that the 18th Airborne Corps, based at Fort Bragg, N.C., will deploy to Kuwait late this summer.

The 18th Airborne Corps headquarters “will replace III Corps as the headquarters of the Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve, the global coalition to defeat ISIL, also known as Da’esh,” according to the announcement.

The Fort Hood soldiers, led by III Corps and Fort Hood commander Lt. Gen. Sean MacFarland, deployed from Fort Hood last September for the one-year mission.

III Corps spokesman Col. Christopher Garver, who is also deployed with the unit, said in an email to the Herald Monday that the 18th Airborne Corps (which is also spelled out as XVIII Airborne Corps) is a unit well known to the Phantom Corps.

“As XVIII Airborne Corps from Fort Bragg, N.C., replaced III Armored Corps in Afghanistan in February 2014, we are quite familiar with the XVIII Airborne Corps and know they will be the right unit to take the fight against ISIL over from the Phantom Corps,” Garver said.

“The changeover will occur in the fall, so after we transfer authority to XVIII Airborne Corps, the Phantom Warriors will return home. Until the fall, III Armored Corps will continue to take the fight to ISIL and apply pressure across the breadth and depth of their organization in Iraq and Syria. We will continue to attack ISIL’s fighters and leaders where and when we find them on the battlefield.”

Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, commander of the 18th Airborne Corps, said the headquarters unit has a proud history of answering the call of the nation.

“Our soldiers and units are skilled, tough and stand ready around the clock to defend America,” he said. “They are ready ... to degrade and ultimately defeat ISIL which will improve security in those regions and make the American people safer.”

Since it deployed last fall, III Corps has been in charge of the coalition to fight Islamic State, coordinating ground assaults against the terrorist organization and shrinking the large swaths of land it holds in Iraq and Syria.

“We are currently supporting the Iraqi Security Forces as they maneuver in preparation for the assault to liberate Mosul at the same time they continue combat operations in the Euphrates River Valley to clear ISIL fighters out of Anbar Province,” Garver said.

“In Syria, we partner with the Syrian Democratic Forces as they continue to free villages and terrain in northern Syria. ISIL has not gained any terrain since last year and continues to lose terrain, people and supporters due to the pressure applied by the 60-nation coalition,” he said.

Garver said the Fort Hood soldiers are looking forward to the plane ride back to Texas.

“The people of Central Texas should continue to be proud of the Phantom Warriors from III Corps and we look forward to coming home soon,” he said.

Contact Jacob Brooks jbrooks@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7468

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