Beau Biden Heads to Iraq

ABC News' Matthew Jaffe reports: Beau Biden, son of Vice President-elect Joe Biden, departed the United States Wednesday morning en route to Iraq, Delaware National Guard spokesman Nathan Bright told ABC News.

This photo was provided by the Delaware National Guard.

Biden and his unit -- the 261st Signal Brigade -- left Ft. Bliss, Texas, at 11 a.m. local time, Bright said, stopping first in New England and then Europe before moving on to a staging area outside of Iraq for a "few weeks of training and environmental acclimation."

Units usually stop in Kuwait before continuing on to Iraq.

Once in Iraq, Capt. Biden will serve as trial counsel for the 261st and its subordinate units, totaling about 1,200 soldiers. His chief responsibility is helping commanders as a prosecutor, enforcing the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Capt. Biden and the rest of the unit is expected to come back to Delaware in September 2009.

Just last Saturday, Beau Biden, Delaware's attorney general, visited with his family, including his father, on a weekend off in Nevada.

When Beau's unit left for training in Texas in early October, the vice president-elect spoke at his son's deployment ceremony in Dover, Del.

"I have come here many times before as a Delawarean, as a United States senator," Biden said Oct. 3 on the mall in front of the state capital. "But today I come as you prepare to deploy as a father, a father who got some sage advice from his son this morning: 'Dad, keep it short, we're in formation.' I always listen to my general.

"You are the best demonstration of both our nation's greatness and, equally as importantly, our people's goodness," the senator later told the 115 troops. "As you serve, and look out for your brothers and sisters in arms, your families here at home, I promise you, we'll look out for one another.

"So let me simply say thank you," Biden concluded. "Thank you for answering the call of your country. Thank you for doing what brave women and men have always done in uniform and always do. So stand strong, stand together, serve honorably. Come home to your families that love you. May God bless you and may He protect you."

Months earlier, Beau Biden had introduced his father at the Democratic National Convention on Aug. 27 in Denver.

In recent weeks, as he prepared to depart for Iraq, speculation ran rampant that Beau Biden might take over the Senate seat that his father will vacate when he takes office as vice president.

But on Tuesday, Beau Biden sent an email to his hometown newspaper, the News Journal, in which he said he has not sought nor would he accept an appointment to Capitol Hill.

Although President-elect Barack Obama resigned his Senate seat last Sunday, Biden has yet to do so.

"Vice President-elect Biden is consulting with leaders in Delaware and will make an announcement on his plans soon," Biden spokeswoman Elizabeth Alexander said in a statement.

ABC News' Teddy Davis and Tahman Bradley reported Tuesday that Delaware's newly elected Gov. Jack Markell will be sworn in at midnight on Jan. 20, making it possible for him to name a replacement for the long-term Blue Hen lawmaker, assuming Biden fulfills his stated intention to wait until Inauguration Day to resign.

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