The United States Army is offering mid-level Non-Commissioned Officers $5,000 bonuses as an incentive to grow a new training and advising brigade the Army sees as critical to 21st century operations, the Associated Press reports.

Long a staple of Army Special Forces and other special operations forces, advising and training foreign militias, paramilitaries, and professional armies has become integral to the mission set of the conventional Army as a whole. Since the first phases of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, general purpose Army units have found themselves playing multiple roles while deployed: diplomat, trainer, economic developer, and somewhere in there, fighting and killing the enemy. Faced with well over a decade of counterinsurgency operations, the Army is trying to “train” itself out of conflict.

Now, the Army is trying to better formalize large-scale advising and training. “It’s a recognition that this is an enduring requirement for the conventional Army,” said General Robert Abrams, head of U.S. Army Forces Command, “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 be able to do that on a large scale.”

The Army announced plans to create six Security Force Assistance Brigades (SFAB) earlier this year, and approved the $5,000 bonus for qualified NCOs this week. One of the primary reasons to shift to a permanent training and advising brigade structure is to ease the burden off of regular brigade combat teams.

According to a press release from the U.S. Army: “The new units are designed to enhance the readiness of the Army by reducing demand for existing BCTs to conduct security force assistance operations, thereby preserving BCT readiness for full spectrum contingency operations.”

With a lighter footprint of around 500 soldiers, compared to about 4,000 in a regular Army brigade, these brigades are meant to be easily deployable around the world. The monetary bonus is meant to entice those who are otherwise leery of what may appear to be a short-term ‘good idea’ that could ultimately hurt their career.

“There is natural apprehension in the field: ‘Is this a flash in the pan?’ It’s not a flash in the pan,” Abrams said. “The chief is committed and the Army senior leadership is committed, I’m committed. This is going to be an enduring capability.”

Image courtesy of the US Army

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