FORT POLK, La. (Jan. 22, 2018) - The United States Army has service members from all walks of life serving their country. On Jan. 22, 2018, at Fort Polk, Louisiana, Staff Sgt. Robert Sumner, a tactical advisor for 1st Battalion, 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade and native of Staffordshire, England tells his story about going from an English expatriate to patriot of the United States.
During his time as an instructor at sniper school in Fort Benning, Georgia, Sumner was placed on orders to join the 1st SFAB, where he would go on to join the 1st Battalion combat advisor team led by Capt. Kristopher Farrar, team leader of the 1st Battalion CAT.
"My father was in the forces himself," said Sumner. "It was one of the pushes for me to join, which continued a family tradition of servicemen."
Sumner joined the British Army in 1996, and served as an infantryman for 1st battalion Staffordshire Regiment for eight years before leaving in 2003 to become a private contractor overseas.
Enlisting into the British Army, you become a part of a regiment where you remain for your full tenure as an English soldier, Sumner said.
Driven to continue his work as a contractor, Sumner came stateside for a bodyguard course hosted by a fellow Englishman and established relationships that would move him to become a naturalized citizen, Sumner said.
"The only challenges I really faced when becoming a citizen and subsequently joining the U.S. Army in 2010, was having to redo school," Sumner said. "I went to high school and graduated in '95, and all my transcripts were destroyed after seven years and to join the U.S. Army I had to do a general education development program and be placed on delayed entry status."
Frustrated, yet undeterred, Sumner waited for his chance to go through basic training and advanced individual training to become an infantryman once more - this time for the U.S. Army.
His tactical knowledge of the battlefield and commitment to the fight against insurgency placed Sumner in a position to bring a wealth of knowledge to the 1st Battalion CAT, according to Farrar.
"While in one of the simulated training villages here at the Joint Readiness Training Center during a key leader engagement, check fire was being conducted by the simulated Afghan National Army," said Farrar. "Instead of pulling me out of that engagement and costing us valuable intelligence, he took control of the situation, went to investigate, and assured our team that all was under control."
Farrar said that this allowed the CAT to successfully complete that training mission and demonstrated Sumner's ability to lead and make decisions that impact the team positively.
"On our side of the planning phase, he has developed plans of execution that integrated our simulated ANA counterparts which is the main focus for us as an advisory team," said Staff Sgt. James D. Elliot, a tactical advisor for the 1st Battalion CAT and native of Paradise, California.
While at JRTC, the 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade has conducted various training events tailored to increasing their readiness for current and emerging near-peer threats.
"You can trust Sumner to give you the hard-right," said Sgt. 1st Class John McDowell, the team sergeant for Farrar's CAT and San Diego native. "His candid nature and strategic capability from the years of experience he has, is exactly what we, in this Army, need."
Strategic advisory missions are here to stay, and the Army is improving upon ad hoc solutions it has been using for the last 15 years, which relied heavily on conventionally organized Brigade Combat Teams.
"I have learned so much throughout my time in the 1st SFAB so far, and here at this JRTC rotation," Sumner said. "I am honored and privileged to be a part of the 1 percent that stood up to defend this nation - I believe in everything it stands for."
Soldiers interested in joining the 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade should contact their branch manager or visit http://armyreenlistment.com/sfab.html for more information.