FORT POLK, La. - The 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade and battalion staff and command teams conducted a command post exercise with Afghan National Army role players at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, Louisiana, Jan.13-16.
The exercise is part of the unit's JRTC rotation and was geared toward preparing the brigade and battalion staffs and command teams to advise and assist Afghan National Defense Security Forces when they deploy to Afghanistan in the spring of 2018.
1st SFAB, headquartered in Fort Benning, Georgia, is the Army's new permanent, additive force structure developed and deployed as a solution to the Army's enduring advise and assist requirement in support of the defense strategy.
The exercise provided the brigade and battalion advisor teams a chance to train on conducting mission command and advising their partners.
"The CPX is an event that allows the SFAB brigade staff and BATs to exercise command post operations simultaneously with their advisory skills," said Maj. Frank Fisher, JRTC observer controller. "This training allowed the brigade staff and BATs to train on required advisory knowledge, skills, and abilities, while also exercising other internal staff processes required for planning, preparation, and current operations."
They advised ANA role players on the planning process and also worked together as a staff during the process.
Fisher said the 1st SFAB brigade staff and BATs advised a partner unit and conducted key leader engagements with role players acting as ANA. This process allowed the advisory teams to practice and refine approaches as a collective team.
The CPX gave the 1st SFAB brigade staff a chance to work together as a team and build cohesion in preparation for their upcoming deployment.
"The CPX helped enhance unit esprit de corps and cohesion because it required shared problem solving, provided situations for team members to observe each other's strengths and weaknesses and assist if necessary, and required the collective effort of the group to develop an inclusive advising strategy," said Col. Bryan Chivers, deputy commander, 1st SFAB.
The exercise provided realistic training and prepared them for scenarios they could potentially face during their deployment.
"Many scenarios are modeled after situations U.S. advisors have experienced in Afghanistan," Fisher said.
The 1st SFAB brigade staff and BATs put things they learned in the Military Advisor Training Academy at Fort Benning, Georgia, into practical application during the exercise.
"MATA provided me with a more in depth understanding of the structure of the Afghan National Army, cultural differences and expectations," said Capt. Ryan Sullivan, 1st SFAB signals intelligence support officer, and native of Ripon, California. "This knowledge enabled the brigade intelligence section to anticipate our intelligence partners' capabilities and limitations and how we could best enable their operations during the command post exercise."
The CPX helped the brigade staff hone in on the key attributes it takes to be a good combat advisor.
"The most important attributes of being a good advisor are humility, patience and confidence in your craft," Sullivan said. "The foundation to successful advising is strong rapport with your partner. There will be a crucial period of adjustment for both advisor and advisee where mutual trust and respect must be established in order to drive cooperation and enable mission success. This is accomplished through simply getting to know each other, and your partner trusting in your abilities and expertise."