In the U.S. Army’s continued realignment and refocus efforts, U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) will be testing a new rotational model, intended to give commanders a more reliable supply of soldiers available for short, training-focused missions, reports Stars and Stripes. Soldiers from the Fort Riley-based 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, will be “regionally aligned” with Africa starting around March. The Fort Riley soldiers will remain in the U.S. until such time they are needed for missions in Africa.
General Carter F. Ham became commander of AFRICOM, on March 9, 2011. AFRICOM is responsible for military relations with 54 African countries, is headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany; and is one of six of the Defense Department’s regional military headquarters. As such, AFRICOM has administrative responsibility for U.S. military support to U.S. government policy in Africa.
AFRICOM’s mission, in concert with other U.S. government agencies and international partners, is to conduct sustained security engagement through military-to-military programs, military-sponsored activities; and other military operations as directed to promote a stable and secure African environment in support of U.S. foreign policy. AFRICOM is one of six unified geographic commands within the Department of Defense unified command structure.
The command’s operations, exercises, and security cooperation programs support U.S. Government foreign policy and do so primarily through military-to-military activities and assistance programs. The core mission of assisting African states and regional organizations to strengthen their defense capabilities better enables Africans to address their security threats and reduces threats to U.S. interests.
Col. Andrew Dennis, the Army’s chief of security cooperation policy and concepts was careful to add: “This does NOT mean 2-1 BCT is going to deploy, en masse, to Africa,” Dennis said. “Rather, smaller units from the brigade may be called at different times to do security force assistance and partnership-building missions, then return to the home base in the United States, with about 60 to 70 percent of the brigade deploying over the course of the regional alignment period, Dennis said.
The announcement comes on the heels of a trip to Africa but Secretary of the Army John McHugh, and announcements concerning the U.S.’s strategic interests in the region.