- - Sunday, March 31, 2019

The U.S. Army is increasing the deployment of active forces overseas, with up to 10,000 troops, many of them National Guard units together comprising the equivalent of a division headquarters and several brigades. They will be moved abroad soon.

The Army plans to deploy troops in ongoing rotations, Gen. Robert Brown, commander of Army forces in the Pacific, told the newspaper Stars and Stripes. These new troops will add strength to forces already on duty.

These are essentially training missions and exercises. “We’re talking about moving troops into a place with certain capabilities based on the partners we’re dealing with — move them out and move them back,” Gen. James McConville, vice chief of staff of the Army, told the newspaper. “And then [we would] have the agility to move around the globe and in this theater the way we need to in response to our [foreign] partners.”

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This follows the formation of the Pacific Pathways program, which enters a new phase this year, a signature focus of Gen. Mark Milley, the Army Chief of Staff.

Pathways was organized in 2014 to partner U.S. Army units with forces from Indonesia, Malaysia and Japan. Those were short rotations with units quickly moving between countries. The Indiana Army National Guard’s 76th Infantry Brigade Combat Team last year was the first Guard unit to lead a Pathways exercise, spending three months from July to September. Most soldiers spent two-to-three-week deployments in theater, with assignments planned to satisfy National Guard requirements. Pathways will have units staying in one country for longer stretches, starting this summer when soldiers will spend four months training in the Philippines. Gen. Brown said those would later extend to a six-month rotations.

The first series of “real-world experiments” focused on targeting, firing and communications exercises in the Pacific this past summer. The program will move to Europe this year for its second on-the-ground testing phase.

U.S Army units spent the past three years deploying a full armored brigade combat team to Europe to fill gaps when the Army drew down its armored presence in Europe because of severe budget cuts ordered by the Obama administration. This included nine-month deployments that overlap units so there is a continued effective presence of U.S. Army troops in Europe.

The total projected active duty end strength in the U.S. armed forces for fiscal 2017 was 1,281,900 troops, with an additional 801,200 troops from the various reserves. Of these, approximately 165,000 of its active-duty personnel were serving outside the United States and its territories. These U.S. military troops were deployed in more than 150 countries around the world, with U.S. soldiers typically deployed as part of peacekeeping missions, or were military attaches, or members of embassy and consulate security details. Another 40,000 troops are assigned to classified missions in places the U.S. government declines to identify.

Up next in 2019, the Taliban and ISIS are expected back in action come fighting season. There will be several new commanders, including Gen. Austin Miller of Operation Resolute Support. The U.S. Army’s 2nd Security Force Assistance Brigade, based in Fort Bragg, N.C., will make a battlefield debut in the spring with deployment to Afghanistan.

Five more Army brigades and a division headquarters are preparing to head overseas, as well. 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division will deploy to Europe later this year, replacing 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division. The 1st Infantry Division’s 1st Combat Aviation Brigade also will deploy to Europe later this year, replacing the 4th Combat Aviation Brigade.

The 1st Infantry Division Sustainment Brigade will deploy to Afghanistan later this year, replacing the 101st Airborne Division Sustainment Brigade. The 1st Cavalry Division headquarters will deploy to Afghanistan in early 2019, replacing the National Guard’s 40th Infantry Division headquarters.

The 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division will deploy to Kuwait in spring 2019, replacing the Mississippi National Guard’s 155th Armored Brigade Combat Team. The 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division will deploy to Iraq later this year, replacing the 3rd Cavalry Regiment. Three cheers are in order for the National Guard, and a round of boos for Barack Obama’s negligence of military requirements. We’re paying for it now.

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