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Archive for Friday, March 9, 2007

Fort Riley to lose training advising

March 9, 2007

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— The military plans to move its training of advisers for Afghan and Iraqi security forces from Fort Riley to another Army installation within the next few years, the Kansas post's commanding general says.

Maj. Gen. Carter Ham acknowledged that the 1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, which began training the transition teams last year, will continue doing so for the "foreseeable future." But the brigade also will be restructured so it can be deployed quickly overseas.

The military hasn't set a timetable for the move. Even with the change, the 1st Brigade would remain at Fort Riley.

"They're a tactical unit," Ham said in remarks during a Manhattan Chamber of Commerce lunch Wednesday. "The 1st Brigade is not the ideal solution to have executing that training mission."

The training mission put Fort Riley at the center of the U.S. military's strategy for Iraq and lessening the commitment of U.S. troops there.

It also made the post more visible internationally. In January, three dozen foreign journalists and the Iraqi army's chief of staff, Gen. Babaker B. Shawkat Zebari, visited the post.

The goal is for transition teams of between 12 and 20 advisers to mentor their foreign counterparts, so Iraqi and Afghan forces can take over duties now left to U.S. and coalition forces. The advisers train for 60 days, picking up language skills and information about foreign culture.

About 850 soldiers are training at Fort Riley to be part of a transition team. About 1,400 others have completed the training at the post and are in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Post spokesman Lt. Col. Christian Kubik said the training assignment was never intended to be permanent for Fort Riley.

"But we were the people who could pick it up the quickest and get it going," Kubik told The Topeka Capital-Journal.

Kubik said the training probably will move to the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif.; the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, La.; or the Combat Maneuver Training Center in Germany.

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