About 4,000 soldiers from the 1st Infantry Division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team will deploy to Kuwait later this year, the Army announced Thursday, with some expected to serve in Iraq.
The soldiers from Fort Riley, Kansas, are deploying to backfill soldiers from 3rd BCT, 4th Infantry Division, who have been in country since February. Leaders for 2nd BCT will case the brigade's colors during a ceremony Monday ahead of its nine-month deployment.
Once in Kuwait, "our focus is on enhancing regional stability," said Col. Miles Brown, commander of 2nd BCT, 1st Infantry Division.
"We're there to reinforce relationships with partner nations in the region, with Kuwait as a point of departure," he told Army Times.
This means the soldiers will conduct training and exercises with partner nations across the Central Command area of operations, and a small element likely will be tasked to support American troops in Iraq as well, Brown said.
Army Central and CENTCOM are "always engaged," he said. "There are so many partnership events that go on routinely."
The brigade has been preparing for this deployment for a while, Brown said.
Some members of the Dagger Brigade may serve in Iraq while others will train with foreign militaries across the CENTCOM AOR.
Photo Credit: Staff Sgt Tamika Dillard/Army
The 2nd BCT was the first brigade combat team to be regionally aligned with Africa Command.
"One of the unique things that we have here is this brigade came off the regionally-aligned forces mission to AFRICOM last summer," Brown said.
By the time it completed its regional alignment in June 2014, the brigade's soldiers had conducted more than 200 exercises across the African continent over a nine- to 10-month period, he said.
"You cannot come out of that type of experience worse for the wear," he said. "You have to come out of that experience as a better brigade."
In March, that constant engagement paid off as the brigade went to the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California.
"That was a significant deployment for us," Brown said. "We were the first armored brigade combat team to have gone through a second Decisive Action training rotation."
The brigade's first such rotation took place before it assumed the Africa mission.
During the second NTC rotation, "you see the level of proficiency increase," Brown said. "You see a significant increase in adaptability, critical thinking, a rapid increase over the last year. In many ways, that AFRICOM mission trained us significantly for NTC just by the nature of doing it."
The soldiers of 2nd BCT conducted the "largest brigade live-fire at NTC in a decade" during that rotation, Brown said.
"We're performing at a higher level because of that Africa rotation," he said. "Is this a one-for-one direct correlation to what they did in Africa? No, but it's about growing agile and adaptive leaders. It's about maintaining readiness."
As the brigade prepares to deploy to Kuwait, right across the border to the U.S. military's ongoing efforts against the Islamic State terror group, Brown said his soldiers are ready for the job.
"We're at the right place in our training and our leader development and our maintenance of our equipment," he said. "We take it very seriously."