By Debbie Gregory.
In order to meet the growing demand for advisers, the U.S. Army is authorizing $5,000 bonuses to troops interested in participating in a new training brigade.
The creation of five training and advising brigades signals the Army’s intent to shift away from the conventional units and tactics that yielded a significant number of casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan. Joining is strictly voluntary.
Since it’s a new program, Army Gen. Robert Abrams, the head of U.S. Army Forces Command, acknowledged some soldiers may be reluctant to shift away from current career paths by taking a chance on something that doesn’t have a track record as of yet.
The challenge, he said, is getting mid-grade non-commissioned officers to sign up. That’s where the bonus will help.
The new brigades will be specially equipped for the mission of training and building up local security forces (which is also one of the primary missions of the Army Special Forces) to prevent Islamic militants from once again overrunning the countries after U.S. forces depart.
The plan calls for a military assistance training academy to be created at Fort Benning, Georgia. About 90 civilian and military staff members are being recruited. The first class will begin in October.
Members of what is being called the new Security Force Assistance Brigade will go through a training course of six-to-eight weeks. Almost 200 will receive 16 weeks of intensive language instruction. Others will get an eight-week language course.
A colonel chosen by the Army to lead the first Security Force Assistance Brigade is set to visit various military posts to recruit volunteers for the unit. Soldiers for the second brigade will be selected in about a year, and all five brigades will be stood up by 2022.
The first brigade could be ready to deploy by the end of 2018, Abrams said, but there has been no decision on where they will go. Iraq and Afghanistan are the most likely locations, he said.