FORT POLK, La. - Soldiers of the 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade, alongside role players with the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, Louisiana, acting as members of the Afghan National Army, are distanced by cultural and language barriers as well as differences in their military training. Between their primary training events, Soldiers of the 1st SFAB worked to reduce those barriers through various basic soldiering training as part of their JRTC rotation, Jan. 18.

The SFABs provide better combat advising capabilities while enabling brigade combat teams to prepare for decisive action -- improving readiness of the Army and its partners in the long term, according to information released by Gen. Mark A. Milley, Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army.

The Soldiers of the 1st SFAB took time between planning missions with the Afghan National Defense Security Forces to improve readiness of the role playing ANA soldiers by training them on medical skills such as initial care under fire, applying pressure to control bleeding, applying improvised tourniquets and battle buddy carries to effectively move an injured Soldier.

"It helps us assess their level of competency as far as first aid goes," said Spc. Kayle Betancourt, medical advisor with 3rd Battalion, 1st SFAB. "If they have any questions about something new they've seen, they can ask that and we can answer them directly - through the interpreter."

Other classes included shoot, move, and communicate tactics and maneuvers used by U.S. Army Soldiers.

"We are advisors, so we are not technically leading their soldiers; we are actually instructing their noncommissioned officers and building them up as competent leaders," said Staff Sgt. Jarrid Lovenburg, a combat medic with the 1st SFAB. "That is one of the really great aspects of this (rotation) is that you can see the results of that - we train NCOs and then we watch the NCOs train their soldiers. We can actually see that development happen."

As the 1st SFAB Soldiers approach their upcoming spring 2018 deployment date, the cultural training and practice they go through at JRTC is preparing them for what they may experience as they advise and assist the ANDSF.

"I think it's important for us to be able to teach a class using an interpreter and whatever questions they have, the interpreter being able to relay that information back to us so we can answer whatever questions they may have," said Staff Sgt. Ethan Wilson, 3rd Bn., 1st SFAB.

SFAB Soldiers are selected based on qualifications and experience, Lovenburg said. He has benefitted from serving alongside Soldiers who are experts in their trade, which allows them to train their allied partners as well as their fellow 1st SFAB Soldiers.

"It is steel sharpening steel," Lovenburg said. "Here, you come in and everybody wants to be here; they are working hard and their competence helps you raise your level so that you are also a contributor to the team."