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Combat brigades in Iraq under different name

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« on: August 22, 2010, 01:39:58 pm »

Combat brigades in Iraq under different name

7 Advise and Assist Brigades, made up of troops from BCTs, still in Iraq
By Kate Brannen - Staff writer
Posted : Saturday Aug 21, 2010 16:10:59 EDT
As the final convoy of the Army’s 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, based at Fort Lewis, Wash., entered Kuwait early Thursday, a different Stryker brigade remained in Iraq.

Soldiers from the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team of the 25th Infantry Division are deployed in Iraq as members of an Advise and Assist Brigade, the Army’s designation for brigades selected to conduct security force assistance.

So while the “last full U.S. combat brigade” have left Iraq, just under 50,000 soldiers from specially trained heavy, infantry and Stryker brigades will stay, as well as two combat aviation brigades.

Compared with the 49,000 soldiers in Iraq, there are close to 67,000 in Afghanistan and another 9,700 in Kuwait, according to the latest Army chart on global commitments dated Aug. 17. Under an agreement with the Iraqi government, all U.S. troops must be out of Iraq by Dec. 31, 2011.

There are seven Advise and Assist Brigades in Iraq, as well as two additional National Guard infantry brigades “for security,” said Army spokesman Lt. Col. Craig Ratcliff.

Last year, the Army decided that rather than devote permanent force structure to the growing security force assistance mission, it would modify and augment existing brigades.

The Army has three different standard brigade combat teams: infantry, Stryker and heavy. To build an Advise and Assist Brigade, the Army selects one of these three and puts it through special training before deploying.

The Army selected brigade combat teams as the unit upon which to build advisory brigades partly because they would be able to retain their inherent capability to conduct offensive and defensive operations, according to the Army’s security force assistance field manual, which came out in May 2009. This way, the brigade can shift the bulk of its operational focus from security force assistance to combat operations if necessary.

To prepare for their mission in Iraq, heavy, infantry and Stryker brigades receive specialized training that can include city management courses, civil affairs training and border patrol classes.

As far as equipment goes, the brigades either brought their gear with them or used equipment left behind that is typical to their type of brigade, said Ratcliff.

The first Advise and Assist Brigade — the 4th Brigade Combat Team of the 1st Armored Division from Fort Bliss, Texas — deployed last spring to Iraq, serving as a “proof of principle” for the advisory brigade concept.

Of the seven Advise and Assist Brigades still in Iraq, four are from the 3rd Infantry Division, based at Fort Stewart, Ga. The 1st Heavy Brigade of the 1st Armored Division, based at Fort Bliss, and the 3rd Brigade Combat Team of the 4th Infantry Division, based at Fort Carson, Colo., are also serving as Advise and Assist Brigades.

The 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team of the 25th Infantry Division is based at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. A combat medic from that unit was killed Aug. 15 when his Stryker combat vehicle was hit with grenades, according to press reports.

Two combat aviation brigades also remain in Iraq, according to Dan O’Boyle, Redstone Arsenal spokesman. Three more are deployed in Afghanistan, where there are currently no Advise and Assist Brigades.
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« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2010, 06:31:15 pm »

First US soldier killed in Iraq since withdrawal of combat troops

An American soldier was killed by a rocket strike near Basra today, in the first US fatality since the last combat troops left Iraq.

The announcement came amid growing concern that the withdrawal of combat forces will allow security in Iraq to further deteriorate. The past three months have seen a spate of bombings and shootings in the centre and north of the country .

Details of the incident were not released, but Basra airport base, which is still home to about 4,000 US forces, had experienced increased numbers of rocket attacks in recent weeks as the deadline drew near for the withdrawal of combat troops. Two soldiers suffered minor wounds in a rocket strike early last week, and rockets have hit the Green Zone in Baghdad almost daily for the past month.

Around 5,000 US troops will stay in the country until next year, focusing mainly on training Iraqi security forces, but the top US military commander in Iraq said today they could return to combat operations if needed.

General Raymond Odierno told CNN the remaining troops could move back to combat if there was "a complete failure of the security forces", or if political divisions split the Iraqi security forces. "But we don't see that happening," Odierno said.

The last US combat brigade in Iraq crossed the border into Kuwait on Thursday, fulfilling President Obama's pledge to end combat operations by the end of this month.

The troops' departure has left many Iraqis apprehensive, with some predicting a rapid regression towards sectarian fighting.

Iyad Othman, a Fallujah policeman, said: "Now that they are gone for good, the situation will not continue to improve. They are surrendering the country to the Iranians."

In Baghdad the mood remains fearful. "It scares me to think that the Americans are leaving," said Umm Ali, 33, in the streets of Arasat, a well-to-do suburb. "If 144,000 soldiers could not control the situation here, how will things improve when there are only 50,000 here and they all stay in their camps?

"Obama did not think about Iraq's interests when he pressed ahead with this withdrawal," she said. "It is a very bad decision, and so is the timing. He should wait for a new government to be formed, one that is strong and can establish – then respect – the rule of law."

Ali Fidel, 40, a public servant in the agriculture ministry, was dismissive of US claims that Iraqi forces had been readied to fill the void left by departing US troops. He said: "If we take a look at the last two months in Iraq, security has now deteriorated to what it was in 2008. I think it will collapse after 31 August, and the country will then be in chaos.

"The Iraqi forces are not ready to work. They don't have the equipment to protect themselves, so how will they protect the civilians?"

Muner Salam, 50, a doctor from Mansour in west Baghdad, said: "Since 2003, Iraq has been destroyed day by day. Political parties and officials are too busy feuding over how to improve their own positions. The Americans cannot control it and now they decide to leave it to ruin.

"There is no government, no infrastructure, and daily explosions targeting doctors and judges. I am pessimistic. I think the country will face enormous challenges, and will not gain victories quickly. It will take a long time to control security."

General Odierno said today it could take years to determine if the US-led invasion was a success. "A strong, democratic Iraq will bring stability to the Middle East, and if we see an Iraq that's moving toward that, two, three, five years from now I think we can call our operations a success," he said.
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