The United States Army announced two new deployments for around 600 soldiers to support operations in Iraq and Afghanistan on Wednesday. Four hundred soldiers from the 1st Armored Division headquarters at Fort Bliss, Texas are slated to augment forces engaged in Operation Inherent Resolve in Iraq. Once there, the 1st Armored Division headquarters will assume the role of Combined Joint Forces Land Component Command-Iraq, replacing the existing 1st Infantry Division Headquarters.
Their responsibility will be to serve as mission command for all coalition troops in Iraq, and support efforts to advise, assist, and to train Iraqi Security Forces.
“America’s tank division is highly trained and ready for this important mission,” said Major General Pat White, commanding general of 1st Armored Division and Fort Bliss. “We are proud to work alongside our Iraqi allies and coalition partners to continue the fight against ISIS. I’m also extremely impressed by the commitment and sacrifice of our military families. It is their stalwart support and resilience that gives us the strength to serve.”
The United States has recently increased the number of troops in Iraq to assist Iraqi Security Forces in the fierce fighting for Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city and last remaining urban stronghold for ISIS in the nation. Earlier announcements this week include the addition of 300 soldiers from the Army’s storied 82nd Airborne Division, intended to help oust the last remnants of the terrorist organization in Mosul.
The 1st Armored Division’s Sustainment Brigade, also out of Fort Bliss, will be sending 200 soldiers to Afghanistan as early as this spring. The 1st Armored Division “Muleskinner” Brigade will draw soldiers from both its headquarters and special troops battalions to become part of the regular rotation of forces participating in Operation Freedom’s Sentinel in Afghanistan. Their primary role in the region will be to provide “sustainment and logistical support to units across the area of operations.”
“Our soldiers are well-trained and ready to conduct sustainment operations in support of this important mission,” said Colonel Michael Lalor, commander, 1st Armored Division Sustainment Brigade. “We’ve built professional and resilient soldiers through a rigorous training schedule, and resilient families within the Muleskinner Brigade. We are ready to answer the nation’s call in Afghanistan or wherever else we are needed around the world.”
In February, General John W. Nicholson Jr., commander of the American-led international military force in Afghanistan, told Congress that his forces urgently need an influx of personnel. According to the general, combat operations in the country have reached a “stalemate” due in large part to external support the Taliban continue to receive from Pakistan.
“It is very difficult to succeed on the battlefield when your enemy enjoys external support and safe haven,” he said. “We need to do a holistic review of our Pakistan policy.”
General Nicholson stated that he had enough special operations troops under his command to carry out their counterterrorism mission, but was sorely lacking in personnel intended to train lower-level leaders within the Afghan military. Unfortunately, as a part of normal rotations, troops from the 1st Armored Division will likely not be able to serve as the supplement the general has requested, but rather as a replacement for soldiers completing their tour as a part of the 8,400 American personal currently deployed to Afghanistan.
Image courtesy of Reuters
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