FORT IRWIN, Calif. (Army News Service, Feb. 21, 2013) -- The United States has been asked by nations in Africa to assist in their training and other security requirements, said a battalion commander of 1st Infantry Division's 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team.
"Dagger" Brigade, as it is called, will help ensure security forces in Africa are "ready to go, so that when the call does come for any type of conflict, they're ready to protect themselves, without the use of the U.S. military," said Lt. Col. Jim Tenpenny, commander, 2nd Bde's Special Troops Bn., speaking during decisive action training this week at the National Training Center.
Tenpenny's battalion, some 700 of the brigade's 4,000 strength, is responsible for providing much of the support required for the brigade's mission success: engineers, signalers, fuel, food, vehicle and equipment repair and so on.
The brigade's commander, Col. Jeff Broadwater, said "we're well-equipped, well-trained and well-prepared to accomplish those missions requested by our host nations in Africa," said Tenpenny, relaying the message from his boss, who was in another part of "the box." The box is NTC's vast training area, which is the size of Rhode Island.
Tenpenny declined to name the host nations or specific tasks or missions required of the Soldiers, not wanting to get too far out in front of the ongoing dialogues. His brigade's regional alignment to U.S. Africa Command, or AFRICOM, could last a year or so, he said, but did not wish to speculate.
What's different about this upcoming assignment is that it will be the first regionally aligned brigade assigned to the combatant commander of AFRICOM. This will happen probably by early May, according to Tenpenny.
Another difference, he said, is that the brigade almost certainly will not deploy en masse. Rather, small units or teams will deploy to different nations depending on the nature of the tasks requested.
The training this week and next at NTC consists of conventional force-on-force and security-wide training that includes counterinsurgency, humanitarian, cultural awareness and diplomacy. This type of training is required by brigades to meet high readiness levels prior to deploying to any world region.
NTC offers the "Super Bowl of training," Tenpenny said, crediting the excellence of the trainers and the training resources. "The Army spent a lot of time and energy to ensuring our Soldiers are the best trained Soldiers on the planet."
Tenpenny, who has trained at NTC 11 times, added that the Army's other combat training centers are just as excellent. The some 500 trainers here, who are also known as mentors and coaches, are all combat veterans who have been successful in a wide variety of occupational specialties.
Over the course of the training this week and next, those trainers will provide feedback from platoon level on up to brigade in the form of after action reviews following each of the many scenarios, according to leaders in U.S. Army Forces Command, the organization responsible for generating forces for combatant commanders globally.
The brigade was actually required to do home-stationed training at Fort Riley, Kan., prior to coming to NTC. Tenpenny said that training started with individual training plans, followed by small-unit training and culminating with a brigade field exercise.
"Even with all that hard training we did (at Fort Riley), it can't replicate what we're doing now," he added. "I'm a huge fan of NTC."
When the brigade concludes training here next week, the Soldiers will have more region-specific training at Fort Riley, "that will focus on a variety of scenarios one might encounter in various parts of Africa," Tenpenny said. "We've called it 'Dagger's University.'"
The National Guard has been conducting a variety of training and humanitarian-type missions around the world for a number of years in the State Partnership Program. Some of those countries have been in Africa. Tenpenny said the brigade will be tapping their knowledge and advice and will be "working hand-in-hand" with them during the follow-on training.
Tenpenny praised Dagger Brigade as the "most learning-focused organization I've been part of," meaning the Soldiers take their training seriously and are eager for more.
He said many if not most of the Soldiers are combat-seasoned, attuned to cultural sensitivities, and are used to working in tandem with host nations, militaries and the other services.
"These are smart, good Soldiers," he added.
(Editor's note: This is the second story in a four-part series about the "Dagger" Brigade training for alignment with AFRICOM. For more ARNEWS stories, visit www.army.mil/ARNews, or Facebook at www.facebook.com/ArmyNewsService)