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Army’s 1st RAF brigade briefs Congress in DC

By Maj. Martin L. O’Donnell | 1ST INF. DIV. PUBLIC AFFAIRS | June 11, 2014

 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 ambassador.

“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 career.

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 Studies Center. 
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