Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division isn’t heading to the California desert to practice fighting another developed military, as we reported last month.
We thought that was newsy because it’s been a long time since our Army had to fight a “near peer” military with its own tanks and heavy artillery. Instead, since the fall of Baghdad in 2003, the Army has been at war with anti-government militias in Iraq, criminal networks in Afghanistan and the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Army spokesmen have confirmed that the brigade has new orders to report to the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, Calif. to work on the kind of warfare that’s being employed in Iraq and Afghanistan – counterinsurgency. That method relies on building support with the local population to eliminate enemies without making more insurgents.
This is not a sign of an impending deployment to Afghanistan. President Obama’s plan to withdraw forces from that country means fewer infantry brigades will be heading there. Rather, the new orders recognize that if the 3rd Brigade gets tapped for a combat mission, it’s more likely that it will be asked to fight small bands of insurgents rather than another well-equipped military.