Washington: The first of up to seven new Army units, created to train and help foreign militaries will be operational by the next fiscal year.
The first of these “Regionally Aligned Brigades” will be assigned to Africa Command, but will be stationed in the continental United States, according to British Army Col. Andrew Dennis, attached to the Army’ Strategic Plans and Programs office at the Pentagon.
The brigade will be responsible for working with foreign militaries on stability, security and training operations and should be ready to go by by fiscal 2013, Dennis said during a briefing at the U.S. Army Association’s annual symposium here.
These military cooperation units will be roughly the size as a brigade combat team, but only portions of them will be deployed at any one time, according to Dennis.
There are no plans to ship out the full, brigade-sized force to Africa or to Africa Command’s headquarters in Germany, he added. In the end, the Army plans to have one RAB attached to each combat command around the world.
Including Africa Command, the RAB ranks could grow the Army by as much as seven new, BCT-sized units — one for each of the global combatant commands — Dennis said. However, those total numbers are still under discussion, and no firm commitments have been made by the Army or DoD, he added.
The Army and the Marine Corps are also considering a plan to ship out two BCTs just to do military cooperation missions, as part of future deployments overseas. It is unclear how the creation of the Army RABs will affect those plan.
What is also unclear is how the Army will support these new units in the face of coming force structure cuts.
While these RAB units may be new, the military cooperation mission is not, Ted Melton director of international Army programs at the service’s capabilities integration center, said at the same briefing.
Army troops, along with their special operations counterparts, have been regularly carrying out these types of missions with increasing regularity over the past ten years, especially in Iraq and Afghanistan, Melton said.
But until now, there were no dedicated, regular Army units dedicated to working with foreign militaries. Moreover, Army doctrine did not include any guidelines on how do to that mission.
As a result, Army units were working off ad-hoc practices developed on the fly, to school partner nation forces, Dennis said. That said, the Army also plans to issue field manual to the force on how to work with foreign militaries.
Service officials plan to have that new manual ready by the time the first RAB is ready to support Africa Command.
As the Army looks to position itself to fight in a post-Iraq, post-Afghanistan battlefield, top service commanders are adamant that military cooperation missions will be key.
Last week, European Command chief Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling said his forces will be primarily invested in military cooperation operations, even as his forces are set to shrink in the coming years.
The U.S. military “will not remain dominant in all [warfighting] domains . . . in the near future,” Melton said, adding that strengthening the capabilities of our foreign allies will go along way to soften that blow.