Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Afstan: Extra brigade of US trainers to come

This will help building up the Afghan security forces, the key to any real stabilization of the country--from ISAF (via Moby Media Updates):
Rise of the Phoenix in Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan - Brigadier General Steven P. Huber, commander of Combined Joint Task Force Phoenix VIII and native of Chicago, Ill., visited the 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team in Herat, Shindand and Bala Baluk to evaluate his concerns about force protection, troop safety, manning, soldier care, communications and property accountability, Feb. 18-20.

Before returning to Task Force Phoenix Headquarters in Kabul, he met with ISAF Regional Command West Commander Italian Army Brigadier General Paolo Serra at Camp Arena in Herat. They discussed cooperative efforts surrounding the influx of new troops to the region.

“TF Phoenix is basically going to double,” said Huber in regards to troop increases. “Right now we have one brigade-sized element that comes in and resources with additions from other sources like Air Force, Navy, some Marines, and then contractors. Soon they are going to have two brigades [emphasis added] doing what we are doing with one, and it is going to be a huge shot in the arm for Phoenix. It will allow us to fill the gaps we are experiencing today.”

According to Huber, the inflow of troops will begin in April and will conclude when the last of the second brigade, an active duty brigade, arrives in September...

Task Force Phoenix is currently run by a U.S. Army Guard unit from Illinois [that's the 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team , main mission training]. It has almost 3,000 personnel assigned to it in country and commands and controls approximately 5,000 others.
Task Force Phoenix is under the US-led Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan, and is not part of ISAF:
The mission of the Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan, in partnership with the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the international community, is to plan, program and implement structural, organizational, institutional and management reforms of the Afghanistan National Security Forces in order to develop a stable Afghanistan, strengthen the rule of law, and deter and defeat terrorism within its borders.
More here on CSTC-A's training mission and its current commander. See also the Update here for more on Task Force Phoenix, which also has a combat role.

Some help from other countries too:

Japan has said it will pay the salaries of about 80,000 Afghan police officers for the next six months as part of its drive to help regeneration there.

Japan would also help fund the construction of schools and hospitals and support teacher-training, a foreign ministry official in Tokyo said.

Tokyo has pledged about $2bn in Afghan reconstruction funds since 2002.

Separately, New Zealand announced it would keep its deployment of about 140 troops in the country for another year...

Japan has no troops in Afghanistan but has maintained a refuelling mission in the Indian Ocean in support of the US-led "war on terror".

Tokyo has spent almost $1.5bn of the money it pledged back in 2002...

Update: The additional training unit:
Lt. Col. Kenneth Baldowski says about 2,400 of the Georgia National Guard's 48th Infantry Brigade will be heading for a one-year deployment to Afghanistan in the coming months.

Citizen soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 108th Cavalry Regiment will head to Ft. Polk, La., next month for training. Guard spokesman Baldowski said Tuesday that once in Afghanistan, the Georgia Guard members will be training Afghan police and military forces. Baldowski said the brigade's soldiers will deploy overseas in waves between March and June.

The 48th Brigade spent a year deployed to Iraq in 2005. The brigade of 4,000 troops is headquartered in Macon, with units based across the state.


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