FORT POLK, La. - There was a total of about 1,100 Soldiers from the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, New York, assisted the 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade with their mission readiness exercise at Fort Polk, La. The Mountain Warriors served as Afghan National Army role players during the 1st SFAB's Joint Readiness Training Center rotation, Jan. 8-26.

These Soldiers are acting as the ANA forces that the combat advisors from the 1st SFAB train, advise, assist, accompany and enable so they can operate autonomously.

The Soldiers are being trained by each combat advisor team on tactics such as preventative maintenance checks and services, brigade combat team trauma training and room clearing procedures.

"This is great training for the Soldiers; everyone teaches differently and by each CAT teaching the ANA PMCS, BCT3, and room clearing, they are getting the exposure and repetitions to complete these typical Army tasks," said 1st Lt. Joseph McClain, platoon leader, B Company, 2nd Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment.

The CATs from each battalion of 1st SFAB go through each training event every other day - with an advisory and teaching day in between.

"Back at Fort Drum, we completed a brigade culminating training exercise and went through a series of scenarios, with teams playing as combat advisor teams to help get a better understanding of the 1st SFAB's Joint Readiness Training Center rotation," said Sgt. 1st Class William Schmidt, rifle platoon sergeant, B Co., 2-22. "This event gave Soldiers a greater appreciation for the advise-and-assist portion of the mission as well as the bigger picture overall."

As well as the brigade training exercise at Fort Drum, senior leaders from across 1st BCT went to Fort Benning, Georgia, and completed the Military Advisor Training Academy in December.

"By completing MATA, senior leaders got a better understanding of language barriers and becoming more culturally aware of the Afghan way of life," said Staff Sgt. Willard Cole, B. Co., 3rd Bn., 6th FA. "It gives you a different perspective because the training was very diverse. It involved taking that sit back approach on planning and assessment procedures."

"Since we were training for this mission, it was a good fit for us to come and assist the 1st SFAB," McClain said. "It was an easier transition for us to help them prepare for their upcoming deployment since we already had a general understanding of their train, advise, assist, accompany, and enable mission that the 1st SFAB has," McClain said.

Staff Sgt. Christopher Boyington, rifle sergeant, 2nd Bn., 22nd Inf. Reg. said that he has a greater appreciation for planning while training at JRTC with the 1st SFAB.

"My role here is to plan the routes the teams go on, enable staff from the teams to accomplish their mission, maintain accountability of the teams throughout the exercise; this is much different than my job as a rifle sergeant with my platoon back at Fort Drum," Boyington said.

"I'm very proud of our Soldiers' participation in 1st SFAB's mission readiness exercise. Their contributions will enable 1st SFAB to effectively operate and confidently execute their combat advisor tasks" said Col. Shane Morgan, commander, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division.

SFABs allow the Army to reduce the demand on conventional brigade combat teams over time for combat advising, increasing their readiness for current and emerging threats. SFABs provide better combat advising capability while enabling BCTs to prepare for decisive action improving readiness of the Army and its partners.

"The ability to consistently train Soldiers while we are here is definitely worth it," Schmidt said.