US has new brigades with advisory mission in Iraq

Other News Materials 14 July 2009 22:23 (UTC +04:00)

The Pentagon on Tuesday announced the deployment of newly modified Army brigades to Iraq to focus on training and development duties that will dominate the U.S. mission after combat forces leave by August 2010, Reuters reported.

Four "advisory and assistance brigades," constituting up to 14,000 soldiers, will begin deploying to Iraq this fall as part of a routine 30,000-troop rotation that also includes three Army combat brigades and three Army division headquarters, defense officials said.

The overall deployment will not increase the U.S. military presence in Iraq, which currently stands at 128,000 troops.

Pentagon officials said the creation of new brigades focused training Iraqi security forces will lay the groundwork for the 30,000 to 50,000 troop residual force that President Barack Obama plans to maintain in Iraq from August 2010 until all U.S. forces withdraw by January 2012.

The new brigades are based on existing Army combat brigades that have prosecuted the war in Iraq since the 2003 invasion.

"But it's a different mission," said Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman. "The mission of these brigades will be to train and mentor Iraqi security forces, conduct coordinated counterterrorism missions and protect ongoing civilian and military efforts."

He said the new brigades still will be able to conduct full-spectrum combat operations when necessary.

Under Obama's plan, the Pentagon would maintain the U.S. force at the current levels through Iraq's upcoming elections and begin drawing down troops early next year as the mission's focus shifts from combat to training and support.

The residual force that remains after August 2010 is expected to consist of six advisory and assistance brigades.

Three of the new brigades are being drawn from the Army's 3rd Infantry Division. The fourth will come from its 4th Infantry Division.

Pentagon officials said the new brigades differ from conventional combat brigades because they have larger numbers of field-grade officers and civil-military capabilities including civil affairs personnel, engineers, military police and transportation specialists to support State Department development efforts.

"They will typically also have personnel attached working in areas such as rule of law, governance, economic development," a Pentagon statement said.