By Spc. Noelle WieheJanuary 22, 2018
FORT POLK, La. -- The Soldiers with the 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade used time between training events to strategize their mission before putting plans into action during their first-ever rotation at the Joint Readiness Training Center in Fort Polk, Louisiana, Jan. 18.
The 1st SFAB Soldiers and their simulated Afghan National Army partners throughout the JRTC rotation were put through scenarios they had to work through which challenged their advising capabilities and ability to negotiate situations as a team, said Lt. Col. Ryan Seagreaves, cavalry squadron senior trainer and observer-controller at JRTC.
"The biggest advantage is that they get multiple repetitions to go through small unit troop-leading procedures and practice all of their systems across all six of the warfighting systems," Seagreaves said. "They are executing all those repetitions through a variety of different situations that we create on each of the different training events."
The 1st SFAB is training at JRTC for their upcoming spring 2018 deployment to provide training and advising assistance to Afghan National Defense Security Forces. The training has been catered to the advising missions of the brigade, which is different than the conventional Army's typical JRTC rotations.
"You have this proverbial tool bag and every time you try and address a problem, you have to reach for the Afghan tool first -- you have to put it in their perspective," said Capt. William Webster, 3rd Battalion, 1st SFAB, quoting Col. Scott Jackson, 1st SFAB commander. "We have to make sure we are giving them solutions they can choose from or steer towards what is sustainable within their organization."
Despite their plan, the combat advising teams will be thrown into obstacles -- upset villagers, ambushes -- throughout the individual missions which require them to take decisive actions, which improves their readiness in real-life scenarios. The injection of those unforeseen circumstances increase the combat advising team's readiness for current and emerging threats.
"We make it more complex," Seagreaves said. "It puts the advisor team in a situation where they have to deal with multiple problems simultaneously and train on how they would advise the kandak (ANDSF battalion) to work through each problem as well as the work through their own problems."
The planning days allow for the Soldiers to map out their route to their objective as well as develop alternate strategies to minimize diversions along the way.
During planning, the Soldiers also have to build rapport among the ANDSF soldiers and leaders.
"There is a human dimension at play," Seagreaves said. "The kandak will be much more effective if the advisor team is more effective at building rapport; if they're not very effective, the cooperation won't be at the same level."
SFABs are new formations specially trained and built to enable combatant commanders to accomplish theater objectives by training, advising, assisting, accompanying, and enabling partnered indigenous security forces. SFABs will likely sustain a higher deployment tempo than other conventional Army units, which will focus on training for decisive action, according to Gen. Mark Milley, Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army.