By C. Todd Lopez
WASHINGTON, June 22, 2012 - As part of an effort to regionally align Army forces with specific unified combatant commands, a Kansas-based brigade will begin serving in March as the go-to force for U.S. Africa Command, Army officials said yesterday.
The Fort Riley, Kan. -based 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, called the "Dagger Brigade," will be the main force provider for security cooperation and partnership-building missions in Africa, according to officials.
The effort is a first step toward fulfilling national strategic and defense guidance that includes military services partnering with allies around the world to build capacity and security capability, officials said.
The 'Dagger Brigade' is the first Army unit to be named in this way for alignment with a combatant command, officials said. The unit will be on deck for their mission for an entire year. The tasking will be to perform security cooperation, when needed, not operational or regular warfare missions, officials explained.
Col. Andrew Dennis, the chief of the Army Security Cooperation Policy and Concepts Division here, said that drawdowns in the U.S. Central Command region are freeing up more forces to be regionally aligned with other combatant commands in the same way the "Dagger Brigade" will be aligned with Africom.
For 10 years, he said, Centcom has been the main focus of Army forces, while organizing forces for the rest of the combatant commands has been a "relatively ad hoc" process. Now that forces are drawing down from Centcom, he said the Army can do a better job of having forces prepared for other combatant commands, to provide a "predictable supply" of forces to those commanders.
Regional alignment will provide informed units, and "a more flexible sourcing function for the geographical COCOMs," Dennis said.
"This is building on work that has already been done," Dennis said. "The U.S. Army has aligned forces regionally and built partnerships across the world for many, many years. And what we're working on now is the organization of the Army beyond the current conflict to provide the capability required and maintain an expeditionary mindset in the Army."
Other units will be assigned to follow the "Dagger Brigade" when its year-long tasking is complete. It is expected that those assignments will follow the Army force generation model.
"We're using the current, existing ... Army force generation process, which sees people doing two years build-up and training, and a year in the available period," Dennis said.
There are six unified commands, including U.S. Africa Command, U.S. Central Command, U.S. Southern Command, U.S. Northern Command, U.S. European Command and U.S. Pacific Command. Only Eucom and Pacom have Army units currently assigned to and living in those areas of operation. However, all of those commands already have some form of Army unit "regionally aligned" with them in some capacity. Primarily, that means Army Special Operations Forces, or Army Reserve or Army National Guard units.
U.S. Africa Command
Sean P Eagan
Former Chairman American Cold War Veterans