I'm really confused about what the hell we're talking about here, to be honest with you. First of all, Army combat brigades don't "usually comprise about 5,000 soldiers." They're usually about 70-80% of that size -- around 3,500. And what are we talking about when we say a "Marine combat brigade"? It's certainly not a Marine Expeditionary Brigade, which is a task-built, combined arms force built around a reinforced infantry regiment. I've seen reference elsewhere to a Regimental Combat Team from Camp Lejeune heading over, but I'm not sure about this. The Marines confuse everything by tailor-making every deploying force, so there's no stock size for an RCT. What I can tell you, though, is that an RCT is not going to come close to "double[ing] the Marines' 10,000-strong force."
An American military official said Wednesday that the bulk of new combat forces approved by President Obama would be sent to southern Afghanistan, an area including Helmand and Kandahar Provinces that is the financial and spiritual base of the Taliban as well as the deadliest part of the country for American troops.
Two combat brigades, one from the Marines and one from the Army, will go to the south, while another Army brigade will be sent to eastern Afghanistan, the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. Army combat brigades usually comprise about 5,000 soldiers.
The flow of forces will begin “in earnest” next month, the official said, and a majority of troops will be deployed by next summer.
In Helmand, the new Marine brigade will nearly double the Marines’ 10,000-strong force. When these troops are combined with British forces, Helmand may end up with well over 20,000 troops, as many as were typically deployed in Baghdad. Helmand covers a far larger territory than Baghdad but has about one-fourth of the population.
It seems to me that we're talking about four total "brigades": one Marine Regimental Combat Team, two BCTs, and one (Army) SFA brigade. But then, yet more confusion:
Wait, what? McChrystal's wanted "a fourth brigade," but he's getting only... four brigades? Did he want four Army brigades plus the Marines, and now he's only getting the three (two BCTs and the SFA bde)? I guess that's it, and they're talking about a fourth maneuver brigade.
Speaking to reporters at his headquarters in Kabul on Wednesday, the American commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, said the new American deployment, along with expected NATO reinforcements, was “sufficient.”
“I think that we’re going to have exactly what we need to move forward,” said the general, who had earlier sought a fourth brigade.
Excluding support units, about one-quarter of the new forces will serve as trainers for Afghan forces. The rest will be traditional combat units teamed with Afghan security forces.
It's also misleading to say that "about one-quarter of the new forces" will go to the training mission; by my math you have ~5-8K Marines and ~7-8K soldiers in the additional maneuver units, and then about 3-3.5K soldiers in the SFA brigade, plus whatever Division staff and support elements go, which means that trainers make up something more like 10-12% of the total numbers. I guess this math could be screwed up if you're chopping some of those Marines off into ETTs, but I don't know anything about how that works. And finally:
The three new brigades will join the equivalent of what are now roughly five United States combat maneuver brigades and two training brigades, and bring the total number of American troops in Afghanistan to almost 100,000.So that's (1) 4/82 and (2) the 48th BCT (Georgia ARNG) as the two brigades doing the advisor/training mission, to be joined by one additional SFA brigade. And the three new maneuver elements will join (1) 4/4 Infantry; (2) 3/10 Mountain; (3) 4/25 Infantry; (4) 5/2 Infantry (Stryker) plus 1-12 Infantry (and international elements) in TF Kandahar; and (5) RCT 7 as the five combat maneuver brigades the article references. (I'm sure Tintin will correct me if I'm wrong here. After all, I am ripping off his Afghanistan Order of Battle!)
The Army is gonna start notifying brigades next week, apparently, so things should get a bit clearer then.
UPDATE: Changed the title, as I'd confused even my damn self.