The Army is sending "elements" of the 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade to Africa in the next few weeks, the Pentagon announced today.
"The Secretary of Defense has been conducting a comprehensive review of DOD forces, programs and activities within each combatant command to ensure alignment with the National Defense Strategy's priorities," Pentagon spokeswoman Alyssa Farah said in a statement. "U.S. Africa Command was the first to present their findings and recommendations. As part of this review and in order to better compete with China and Russia in Africa, the secretary is directing the deployment of elements of the Army's 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade (SFAB) to the continent to conduct train, advise, and assist missions in spotlight African countries. This is the first of many decisions regarding AFRICOM's mission."
Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) in April 2018 sent a letter to Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who at the time was the Army secretary, asking about the feasibility of assigning an SFAB to AFRICOM.
"As you know, AFRICOM does not have any assigned forces, but must compete for allocated forces within the Department of Defense's global force management process," Inhofe wrote. "The Army has allocated a Brigade Combat Team to AFRICOM in the recent past as part of the Regionally Aligned Forces (RAF) program. These operations were a success for our African nation partners and built strategic partnerships for the United States. However, they also negatively affected the allocated BCT's readiness, especially for core missions such as full-spectrum combat operations."
DOD says the SFAB's deployment will allow the Army to return elements of an infantry brigade from the 101st Airborne Division back to its home base of Ft. Campbell, KY, so it can "train and prepare for high-intensity conflict operations."