By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
Sept. 11, 2009 - The new advisory and assistance brigades to flow into Iraq in the coming months will bring important new capability as they focus on building the Iraqi security forces, the commander of Multinational Corps Iraq said yesterday. Army Lt. Gen. Charles Jacoby Jr. called the so-called AABs – reconfigured brigade combat teams that focus on advising, assisting and developing Iraqi security forces – "a concept we believe in" for moving forward in Iraq.
"We think it's the right way to go as we move from counterinsurgency and full-spectrum ops to our strategy of being done with combat operations for U.S. forces in August 2010," he told Pentagon reporters via videoconference from Camp Victory, Iraq.
The Pentagon announced the new brigades in July.
The first four brigade combat teams to be assigned the mission are the 3rd Infantry Division's 1st and 2nd Brigade Combat Teams based at Fort Stewart, Ga., and its 3rd BCT at Fort Benning, Ga.; and the 4th Infantry Division's 3rd BCT at Fort Carson, Colo.
They will deploy beginning this fall, and be dispersed throughout Iraq in areas where they can best support provincial reconstruction teams and the training of Iraqi forces, Jacoby said. "We've done a fair amount of work studying where we think the advisory assistance brigades can best serve that mission," he said.
The AABs represent a mindset as well as a mission, Jacoby said, as they operate within the stability operations realm to improve the Iraqi security forces' ability to conduct combat operations and take the lead in other security operations.
For now, traditional brigade combat teams deployed to Iraq are passing back lessons learned and observations being made to help prepare the AABs for their new mission. Jacoby lauded the "great exchange of information between the theater and back home in the training base."
AABs will be about the size of a standard brigade combat team, but will include more field-grade officers serving as advisors, and more engineering, military police, civil affairs, transportation and other capabilities to support the training and mentoring mission, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman explained when announcing the new teams in July.
Their pre-deployment training is expected to differ considerably from that of standard brigades, Whitman said. In addition to standard combat training, they will undergo scenario-based training and mission-readiness exercises designed to prepare them for the complex challenges they will encounter in Iraq.