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Army Offering $5,000 Bonus To Soldiers Who Volunteer For Deployable Training Brigades
The U.S. Army will soon offer $5,000 bonuses to persuade top-performing soldiers to join a set of new training and advising brigades that could begin deploying to conflict zones around the world as soon as 2018, the Associated Press reports.
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 but few lasting results; government forces in both countries were thrashed by revitalized insurgencies soon after coalition combat troops pulled out.
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.
Once they’re stood up and operational, the so-called Security Force Assistance Brigades will deploy in place of the combat brigades currently utilizing small portions of their units to training and advising missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. As the AP notes, detachments from three brigades are in those countries right now.
“It separates the leaders from those they lead, and it degrades readiness significantly,” Gen. Robert Abrams, head of U.S. Army Forces Command, told the AP.
At the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army’s brigade combat teams, or BCTs, were often tasked with training and advising local forces, which they’d also partner with on missions outside the wire. It seems the Security Force Assistance Brigades will remain more firmly behind-the-scenes, focusing exclusively on preparing local forces to fight on their own.
“It’s a recognition that this is an enduring requirement for the conventional Army,” Abrams said. “Most times we’re falling in on existing institutions that are probably failing, and bringing them up to a certain competency level so they can secure themselves. And we’ve got to do that on a large scale.”
Abrams told the AP that the first Security Force Assistance Brigade could be ready to deploy overseas by the end of 2018, probably to Iraq or Afghanistan. The brigade will consist of a total of 529 soldiers, 360 of whom will be officers. Only enlisted soldiers and non-commissioned officers qualify for the $5,000 signing bonus, which will become available in June.
About 90 civilian and military staff members are now being recruited for a military assistance training academy being stood up at Ft. Benning, Ga. The first class is slated to begin in October. All 529 soldiers will undergo a six-to-eight-week training course. 200 will receive 16 weeks of intensive language training, while others will attend an eight-week course.
In the meantime, a colonel chosen by the Army to lead the first Security Force Assistance Brigade will visit various military posts in the coming weeks 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.
Retired Army Master Sgt. Mark Allen has died 10 years after he was shot in the head while searching for deserter Pvt. Bowe Bergdahl in Afghanistan.
Allen died on Saturday at the age of 46, according to funeral information posted online.
For U.S. service members who have fought alongside the Kurds, President Donald Trump's decision to approve repositioning U.S. forces in Syria ahead of Turkey's invasion is a naked betrayal of valued allies.
"I am ashamed for the first time in my career," one unnamed special operator told Fox News Jennifer Griffin.
In a Twitter thread that went viral, Griffin wrote the soldier told her the Kurds were continuing to support the United States by guarding tens of thousands of ISIS prisoners even though Turkey had nullified an arrangement under which U.S. and Turkish troops were conducting joint patrols in northeastern Syria to allow the Kurdish People's Protection Units, or YPG, to withdraw.
"The Kurds are sticking by us," the soldier told Griffin. "No other partner I have ever dealt with would stand by us."
Most of the U.S. troops in Syria are being moved out of the country as Turkish forces and their Arab allies push further into Kurdish territory than originally expected, Task & Purpose has learned.
Roughly 1,000 U.S. troops are withdrawing from Syria, leaving a residual force of between 100 and 150 service members at the Al Tanf garrison, a U.S. official said.
"I spoke with the president last night after discussions with the rest of the national security team and he directed that we begin a deliberate withdrawal of forces from northern Syria," Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Sunday's edition of CBS News' "Face the Nation."'
More than 700 women and children affiliated with ISIS escape Kurdish prison camp after Turkish shelling
BEIRUT/ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Women affiliated with Islamic State and their children fled en masse from a camp where they were being held in northern Syria on Sunday after shelling by Turkish forces in a five-day-old offensive, the region's Kurdish-led administration said.
Turkey's cross-border attack in northern Syria against Kurdish forces widened to target the town of Suluk which was hit by Ankara's Syrian rebel allies. There were conflicting accounts on the outcome of the fighting.
Turkey is facing threats of possible sanctions from the United States unless it calls off the incursion. Two of its NATO allies, Germany and France, have said they are halting weapons exports to Turkey. The Arab League has denounced the operation.
Former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is warning that it's "absolutely a given" that ISIS will come back if the U.S. doesn't keep up pressure on the group, just one week after President Trump announced the withdrawal of U.S. military forces from northern Syria.
"It's in a situation of disarray right now. Obviously the Kurds are adapting to the Turkish attacks, and we'll have to see if they're able to maintain the fight against ISIS," Mattis said in an interview on NBC's "Meet The Press," set to air on Sunday. "It's going to have an impact. The question is how much?"