By John Ryan – Staff writer Army Times
A brigade will deploy to Africa next year in a pilot program that assigns brigades on a rotational basis to regions around the globe, the Army announced in May.
Roughly 3,000 soldiers — and likely more — are expected to serve tours across the continent in 2013, training foreign militaries and aiding locals.
As part of a “regionally aligned force concept,” soldiers will live and work among Africans in safe communities approved by the U.S. government, said Maj. Gen. David R. Hogg, head of U.S. Army Africa.
Tours could last a few weeks or months and include multiple missions at different locations, he said.
The Army has not announced which brigade would deploy or where the soldiers would come from.
As the Afghanistan war winds down, the new readiness model affords Army units more time to learn regional cultures and languages and train for specific threats and missions.
Africa, in particular, has emerged as a greater priority for the U.S. government because terrorist groups there have become an increasing threat to U.S. and regional security.
Though U.S. soldiers have operated in Africa for decades, including more than 1,200 soldiers currently stationed at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, the region in many ways remains the Army’s last frontier.
“As far as our mission goes, it’s uncharted territory,” Hogg said from his headquarters in Vicenza, Italy.
But “I’m not there to win their wars or settle their differences,” he added.
Instead, with more soldiers, U.S. Army Africa will continue to strengthen ties with regional militaries and governments by teaching military tactics, medicine and logistics, as well as combating famine, disease and terrorism in secure environments. The Army currently allows conventional soldiers to enter only 46 of the 54 African states due to security risks.