By Sgt. Arjenis NunezJanuary 21, 2018
FORT POLK, La. - Capitalizing on a specially tailored Joint Readiness Training Center rotation at Fort Polk, Louisiana, 4th Battalion, 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade sharpens its advising capability during their month long JRTC rotation, in preparation for a spring 2018 deployment.
JRTC provides relevant, rigorous, and multi-echelon training in a decisive and mission rehearsal exercise environment to develop adaptive leaders, confident units and robust capabilities across the range of military operations achieving Army readiness.
"We've gone through a lot of classes to strengthen our baseline foundation," said the command sergeant major for the 1st SFAB's field artillery battalion, Command Sgt. Maj. James M. McGuffey. "Flexibility and adaptability has been a focal point throughout the different training we have conducted while at JRTC."
Having completed command post training, which involved staff at the Brigade level identifying issues with kandak (Afghan National Army battalion) teams and moving on to improvised explosive device training - 4th Bn. began settling into a deployment mentality forcing them to line their systems up as a traditional battalion would but also concentrating on advising ANDSF partners.
The 1st SFAB allows the Army to reduce the demand on conventional BCTs over time for combat advising, increasing their capabilities for current and near-peer threats.
"The culmination of the academic classes that we engaged in, learning about the Afghan advisory mission going forward and the practical exercises that we executed put our power as an advisory field artillery battalion to the test," said Capt. Christopher Corneilson, the 4th Bn., 1st SFAB supply officer and native of Fort Knox, Kentucky.
While technically labeled as a field artillery battalion, and having fires capabilities, 4th Bn. has remained consistent in advising and enabling our ANDSF partners throughout the training mission here, McGuffey said.
Building rapport with the simulated cultural role players throughout this JRTC rotation is paramount to achieving mission success, but most importantly while we are on deployment, Corneilson said.
"One example that demonstrates our battalion really working with our ANDSF partners throughout this exercise happened during the significant activities event where we got eyes on a potential threat and immediately began coordinating with our partners to get an understanding of the situation and gauge their negotiation abilities to see what assistance we could provide them to move forward," McGuffey said.
"Communication is the key to victory and without clear and concise exchanges between all parties involved, success ends up farther down the road," said Spc. Cody T. Mills, an information technology specialist assigned to 4th Bn.
"Field artillery and signal go hand in hand," Mills said. "It's important for the whole battalion to understand each other whether you're out in the [simulated] villages or back at command. It can make or break a decisive moment."
"Depending on the mission requirements for the Battalion, no one person will remain in the same position," Mills said. "Everyone wears multiple hats."
This rotation has made the inclusion of additional support from units outside the 1st SFAB critical to the overall goal of being prepared to deploy in the spring time.
This is where the security element of Task Force 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment comes into play.
"Since being attached to 4th Battalion for this training mission, we have been coordinating security for combat advisor teams, so they can focus on helping the simulated ANDSF maneuver through different obstacles that have popped up," said Staff Sgt. Timothy S. Camp, assigned to Task Force 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment who is a security element leader.
Camp said that working with the 1st SFAB and 4th Bn. specifically, has enabled TF 1-28 Soldiers to gain a broader picture of what an advisory mission is.
Strategic advisory missions are here to stay, and the Army is improving upon the ad hoc solutions it has been using for the last 15 years, which relied heavily on conventionally organized BCTs, according to Gen. Mark Milley, Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army.
"This has been the best dress rehearsal I have ever been a part of," McGuffey said. "We're only halfway through and we've already hit key learning objectives - success is an understatement."
Soldiers interested in joining the 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade should contact their branch manager or visit http://www.armyreenlistment.com/sfab.html for more information.