WASHINGTON – Six Soldiers with the Army’s first
regionally aligned brigade shared their experiences on and off the African
continent during several open and closed-door sessions with congressional staff
May 27 on Capitol Hill.
The meetings afforded
Congress an opportunity to question those in the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat
Team, 1st Infantry Division who are serving on the frontlines in Africa and
executing one of the Army’s newest strategies.
“Through the conduct of
over 160 missions in 30 countries over the past year, we were able to develop
the capabilities of our African military partners, empowering them to
strengthen and better secure their borders,” said Col. Jeffery D. Broadwater,
2nd ABCT commander. “More importantly, we developed relationships as
representatives of the U.S. that promoted our nation’s interests and ethics.”
Among the missions
discussed was the East Africa Response Force, based in Djibouti and employed in
South Sudanto secure the U.S. Embassy, and its personnel at the behest of the
“Once notified, the force was
in Juba (the nation’s capital) in less than a day,” Broadwater said,
highlighting the responsiveness a forward-deployed expeditionary unit affords.
Also discussed were lesser-known
missions, like the unmanned aircraft system and military police training.
Broadwater highlighted the leader
development the missions provided his brigade’s junior leaders – Sgt. Colton Johnson,
Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 63rd Armor Regiment, and
1st Lt. Deseret Fournier, HHC, Special Troops Battalion, respectively.
“I learned just as much
from them (African Soldiers), as they did from me,” Johnson said.
Fournier said it was a once-in-a-lifetime
opportunity to execute distributed mission command on a real expeditionary mission,
adding the experience would stay with her throughout the rest of her military
Broadwater also talked about
maintaining his brigade’s global availability and the importance of the brigade’s
rotation at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif., prior to its alignment,
which prepared them for both missions.
The brigade is set to
conclude its more than one-year alignment on the continent with U.S. Africa
Command, the region’s geographic combatant command, June 15, when it officially
transfers its responsibilities to one of its sister brigades within the “Big Red
One” – the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.
The 2nd ABCT Soldiers also shared their experiences with
staff members from Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts’ and Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran’s
offices and with Kansas Rep. Mike Pompeo’s staff May 28. Highlighted during
those sessions was the invaluable cultural and linguistic training their
brigade received from faculty and students at Kansas State University’s African