U.S. Army paratroopers assigned to the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, prepare for departure for the Middle East from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, U.S. January 5, 2020. (REUTERS/Bryan Woolston)

FORT BRAGG, N.C. (Reuters) - For many of the soldiers, it would be their first mission. They packed up ammunition and rifles, placed last-minute calls to loved ones, then turned in their cell phones. Some gave blood.

The 600 mostly young soldiers at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, were headed for the Middle East, part of a group of some 3,500 U.S. paratroopers ordered to the region. Kuwait is the first stop for many. Their final destinations are classified.

"We're going to war, bro," one cheered, holding two thumbs up and sporting a grin under close-shorn red hair. He stood among dozens of soldiers loading trucks outside a cinder block building housing several auditoriums with long benches and tables.

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The Philadelphia chapter of a leading Muslim civil rights group is urging the U.S. Army War College to reconsider an upcoming lecture by an Islamic history scholar over his "simplistic, inaccurate and often prejudicial view of the long history of Muslim-West relations," according to a letter obtained by Task & Purpose.

In a May 28 letter to USAWC Commandant Gen. John Kem and Provost Dr. James Breckenridge, three leaders of the Council on American-Islamic Relations — Philadelphia chapter urged the cancellation of an upcoming lecture by Raymond Ibrahim, a prolific scholar of Islamic history and currently a writing fellow at the Middle East Forum, a conservative think thank.

U.S. Army War College officials declined to comment to Task & Purpose.

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U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Brian M. Wilbur/Handout via REUTERS

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump warned on Monday Iran would be met with "great force" if it attacked U.S. interests in the Middle East, and government sources said Washington strongly suspects Shi'ite militias with ties to Tehran were behind a rocket attack in Baghdad's Green Zone.

"I think Iran would be making a very big mistake if they did anything," Trump told reporters as he left the White House on Monday evening for an event in Pennsylvania. "If they do something, it will be met with great force but we have no indication that they will."

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While researching another story, I came across a recent exercise designed to steel NATO for battling Russian subs. The war game was named for a ferret-like creature that subsists on insects and worms.

Exercise Dynamic Mongoose.

Nothing like a small mammal to drive terror into an adversary's heart.

How do military leaders come up with these? In the case of the U.S., military commands are assigned blocks of the alphabet, say from AA to AD, from which they can choose two word names. Such as Agile Diver. The rules forbid "commercial trademarks," "anything offensive to good taste," or that are similar in spelling to a code word.

They also set aside words for certain commands. "Cheese," for example, is only to be used by the chief of naval operation's office. Ditto "rabbit."

(Great Britain's Prime Minister Winston Churchill specifically warned about "frivolous" words, saying no one would want to tell a grieving mother her son died in an operation named "Bunnyhug.")

Here's a totally objective guide to the worst-named military operations and exercises of all time.

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Flight deck personnel stand on the flight deck on board the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) as it patrols the Arabian Gulf during a Strait of Hormuz transit February 14, 2012. (Reuters/Jumana El Heloueh)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The top U.S. defense official has presented an updated military plan to President Donald Trump's administration that envisions sending up to 120,000 troops to the Middle East should Iran attack American forces or accelerate work on nuclear weapons, the New York Times reported on Monday.

Citing unnamed administration officials, the Times said Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan presented the plan at a meeting of Trump's top security aides on Thursday.

Reuters could not immediately confirm the report. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The Pentagon declined to comment.

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U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Juan Granados, 3rd Marine Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, attached to the Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response-Central Command. Photo: Sgt. Justin Huffty/U.S. Marine Corps

Editor's Note: This article by Gina Harkins originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

Thousands of Marines carrying out crisis-response missions in the Middle East are getting a better look at what war with a potential adversary such as Russia might look like.

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