Support our mission

ARLINGTON, Va. — The Pentagon has designated four new "advisory and assistance brigades" among 11 units representing 30,000 troops that will begin deploying to Iraq in the fall, the next step in the phased U.S. military withdrawal from a nation trying to transition from war to stability.

The announcement of new Iraq deployments, made Tuesday, comes just two weeks after the U.S. pulled most of its combat troops out of the country’s urban areas under the terms of a security agreement with the Iraqi government and represents the continuing transition for American forces from combat to advisory and training roles.

The new brigades will retain some combat capabilities, but their designation as advisers rather than as a brigade combat team will allow them to move freely within Iraq’s cities to work with Iraqi security forces, according to Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman.

The troop movements represent rotations with existing forces coming out of the war zones, so overall troop totals will not change, Whitman said. The number of U.S. troops in Iraq should remain at roughly 128,000 through elections planned there for the end of the year.

"Then, Iraq will see the gradual draw down toward August 2010, and a total of 30,000 to 50,000 [remaining U.S. troops]," said Whitman, referring to the deadline to remove all combat-designated troops from the country.

Some of these inbound units, he said, thus represent the first of the last U.S. troops expected remain in Iraq past the August 2010 deadline.

After that point, the U.S. expects to keep "about six" advisory and assistance brigades, or AABs, in the country until the end of 2011, when all U.S. forces must be out of Iraq according to the security agreement.

The precise composition of each new AAB will vary, but Whitman told reporters that he expects they will have more field-grade officers and fewer squad commanders than a traditional brigade combat team, or BCT. Additionally, each new advisory brigade will include fewer combat fighters and more servicemembers with functional roles "such as engineers, military policy, civilian affairs, [and] transportation," said Whitman.

"The mission of these units will be to train and mentor Iraqi Security Forces, conduct coordinated counterterrorism missions and protect ongoing civilian and military efforts in Iraq," he said.

Personnel learned of their deployment orders late last week.

Additionally, two units totaling 7,500 troops will rotate into Afghanistan this coming winter.

In Iraq, three divisions will rotate in to replace current headquarters staff, as will four other brigade combat teams.

The new advisory and assistance brigades were created out of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, from Fort Benning, Ga.; the 2nd and 1st Brigade Combat Teams of the 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Stewart, Ga.; and the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, from Fort Carson, Colo.

The three other brigades deploying are the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, of Fort Bliss, Texas; and the 1st and 2nd Brigade Combat Teams of the 10th Mountain Division, out of Fort Drum, N.Y.

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is scheduled to visit Fort Drum on Thursday to meet troops who have recently returned from their deployments and spouses of troops who are currently overseas.

The three headquarters units on the docket to deploy are the 3rd Infantry Division Headquarters, Fort Stewart, Ga.; 1st Infantry Division Headquarters, Fort Riley, Kan.; and the 1st Armored Division Headquarters, Wiesbaden, Germany.

Additionally, 2,700 soldiers of the Florida Army National Guard’s 53rd Brigade Combat Team will deploy to Kuwait as a "security force brigade." They are assigned to a "freedom of movement" mission, such as route reconnaissance, Whitman said.

The 53rd originally was scheduled in December 2008 to go to Afghanistan, but "before the secretary’s ink even dried," Whitman said, they quickly were reassigned to Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The Defense Department also announced 7,500 troops that will rotate into Afghanistan in two units deploying in the winter of 2009 and 2010.

The inbound 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, from Fort Campbell, Ky., and the 173rd Airborne Brigade, of Vicenza, Italy, — totaling 3,800 and 3,700 troops — have been in dwell time for at least 12 months.

They will replace the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division of Fort Richardson, Alaska, and the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, at Fort Drum, who will have been deployed for roughly a year.

Approximately 57,000 US military personnel are deployed to Afghanistan.


Stripes in 7



around the web


Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign-up to receive a daily email of today’s top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign up