FORT BENNING, Ga. -- Three specialists from the 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade completed the Military Advisory Training Academy and were the Army's first soldiers promoted to sergeant under the Army's new SFAB automatic promotion policy, Nov. 1, 2017.

The policy allows promotable specialists who volunteer for an SFAB and complete the Military Advisor Training Academy to automatically promote to sergeant regardless of cutoff score.

Spc. Shayonna Jones, an automated logistic specialist; Spc. Felicia Kattes, an information technology specialist; and Spc. Cameron Knott, a wheeled vehicle repairer; all from 6th Battalion, 1st SFAB completed the MATA course recently and now have been promoted to the rank of sergeant.

"It is a great day for SFAB," said Lt. Col. Robin Montgomery, 6th Battalion, 1st SFAB, battalion commander. "This is not just an automatic promotion for these Soldiers, they earned it by going through the MATA course - a high level course, which is geared for senior leaders."

The MATA provides realistic training to foreign security force advisors whose mission is to train, advise, assist, accompany and enable allied and partner forces. Throughout the course, Soldiers engage in security cooperation planning and assessment considerations including theater campaign and campaign support planning, mission analysis, host nation support, multi-nation support, sustainment, country and country support plans and country assessments.

The purpose of the course is to train Soldiers to support host nation security by diminishing regional tension and enhancing the security of the host nation to provide security cooperation vital to aiding U.S. interests.

During MATA, Soldiers receive doctrinal training based on how to be security force advisors. As combat advisors, they will be expected to demonstrate cultural awareness and utilize interpreters.

"Through the MATA course (Soldiers learn) how to use interpreters and how to speak to foreign counterparts as advisors by having a better understanding of their background and culture," Jones said.

Automatic promotion to sergeant is just one of the incentives for specialists who volunteer for SFAB and complete MATA.

"The Army is doing what it needs to grow future leaders and we are taking the next step within the organization to develop those leaders," said Command Sgt. Maj. Sean Miller, 6th Battalion, 1st SFAB.

Other incentives include a $5,000 bonus and being part of the foundation of the newly formed brigade.

"The bonus was nice, as well as being automatically promoted to sergeant, but the big thing for me was once I found out that they were building this unit from the ground up, I knew that was something I wanted to be a part of," Jones said.

The 1st SFAB is a new unit that is specially trained and built to enable combatant commanders to accomplish theater security objectives by training, advising, assisting, accompanying, and enabling allied and partnered indigenous security forces.

SFABs allow the Army to reduce, over time, the demand for conventional brigade combat teams for combat advising. This will allow brigade combat teams to focus on readiness for warfighting against near-peer threats.

Soldiers interested in volunteering for the 1st SFAB should contact their branch manager.