NANGARHAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan -- Approximately 135 Soldiers of the 2nd Security Force Assistance Brigade, known as Advisors, deployed from Ft. Bragg, North Carolina, to Iraq for a seven-month tour that began in April 2019.
During the past few months, Advisors from across the six battalions of the 2nd SFAB have been conducting advising operations with two Iraqi Army Divisions, Sector 6 Peshmerga and an Iraqi logistics element, in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.
Advisors from 2nd SFAB conducted an Advisor-specific training cycle before this deployment and have been implementing the skills they learned to Advise, Assist, Support, and Liaise (ASLA) their Iraqi partners overseas.
"Combat Advisor Training Course (CATC) training has been used daily," said Sgt. Andrew Casey, a Logistics Advisor with Team 2640, 2nd SFAB.
Casey is a native of Pearland, Texas, and is on his first deployment to Iraq with the 2nd SFAB.
The training received at CATC prepared the SFAB Advisors for situations and missions they encountered throughout the deployment, stated Casey.
In January 2019, Advisors from the 2nd SFAB deployed to the Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC) where additional Advisor-specific training was conducted. The SFAB JRTC rotation enhanced and evaluated Advisors' technical expertise, cultural competence, and flexibility to adjust to multiple environmental variables.
"JRTC proved to be a critical training event in preparation for the Iraq deployment," said Sgt. First Class John Melville, Assistant Team Leader with Team 2123, 2nd SFAB.
During the JRTC rotation, Advisors trained for expeditionary advising which ultimately translated well in Iraq.
While in Iraq, 2nd SFAB has conducted over fifty expeditionary advising missions supporting their Iraqi Army partner forces. The Advisors have learned how to work in small-team environments and ways to develop effective and efficient systems to complete tasks.
"My Advisor team focus was on cohesion and welfare," said Melville. "It proved critical especially while operating in decentralized, austere environments."
Melville says, because of the 12-man composition of advising teams, his team established primary and alternate positions, allowing the advisors to continuously be prepared to support their foreign security partners.
"Advising a foreign security partner force is one of the most fulfilling opportunities that I've had in the Army," said Staff Sgt. Jake Gregory, a native of Sherman, Texas, and an Explosive Hazard Advisor with Team 2112, 2nd SFAB. "Being able to pass on the knowledge that I've learned throughout my career and being able to actually accompany my partner force to see their success is priceless."
Staff Sgt. Christopher Gomez, a Medical Advisor for Team 2221, 2nd SFAB, stated that the SFAB deployment enabled military occupational specialty (MOS) focused advising which allowed him to train partner force medics. Previous advising efforts did not place this kind of emphasis on subject matter expertise across the formation.
"Executing the mission to advise a foreign security partner force and improve the Iraqi military and soldiers is an experience like no other," said Casey.