GHAZNI PROVINCE, Afghanistan -- The vast desert was peppered with brick kiln towers billowing smoke into the sky, amidst sparse trees and irrigated crop fields surrounded by mountains in the arid Ghazni Province of southeastern Afghanistan. Suddenly, dust erupted from the landing zone as a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter landed at Mission Support Site (MSS) Sultan, an expeditionary base where Advisor Team 2220, Company B, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Security Force Assistance Brigade (SFAB) is stationed. The Advisor team, who live and work alongside their Afghan counterparts, are utilizing the base as an expeditionary advisory platform where they expect enemy contact at any time.
The 2nd SFAB currently has Advisorteams operating throughout the country of Afghanistan advising Afghan national defense and security forces at brigade and below levels. Their mission is to deploy in support of the combatant commander while integrating with foreign security forces to train, advise and assist. Additionally, the Advisor teams enable foreign security forces to coordinate with joint, interagency and multinational forces to improve partner capability and capacity and facilitate achievement of U.S. strategic objectives.
"We can make a difference," said Sgt. 1st Class Jarod Owens, assistant operations advisor for Team 2220. "I've already seen the impact over the last three months. Their operations and getting after the enemy, the Taliban, have seen a significant change since we first got here. Their confidence and the relationships we've built is something I wouldn't trade for anything. We'll continue to push and make a difference and help make this Afghan brigade successful."
Advisor Team 2220 is not only advising fixed site security to their partners in order to control key terrain, but also enabling offensive operations by assisting with medical care, air support and surveillance capabilities.
They are also training alongside the 3rd Brigade, 203rd Corps of the Afghan National Army (ANA) with the goal of establishing a self-sufficient and stable security force in the region.
"Every army has problems, but we're here from the outside looking in to see if we can help them do better," said Staff Sgt. Stuart Diarte, signal advisor for Team 2220. "The goal is to ultimately leave these guys not needing an American presence. When we leave here, they should be able to handle anything in this area and they are getting better every day."
Diarte served in Iraq in 2011 advising the Iraqi army on his previous deployment. Services are minimal at MSS Sultan. Hesco barriers line the camp with a strip of barbed wire atop with an attached infantry unit in guard towers for security. Squat racks and ammo cans link together next to a bunker are used for weightlifting. Stationed three to five weeks at MSS Sultan with a week refitting at a forward operating base, Meals-Ready-to-Eat and traditional Afghan food are on the menu.
"Sometimes we have to go without power and other stuff that sometimes people might take for granted," Diarte said. "At the end of the day, we're all Advisors in the 2nd SFAB, so we just continue the mission and get the job done."
Members of Advisor Team 2220 said they are always improving and finding ways to better themselves as Soldiers and Advisors while conducting their mission. However, improving their living conditions has not been the only progress the Advisor team has made. During their four rotations to MSS Sultan, they have built relationships with their counterparts in training, planning, providing assets and medical support.
The constant and fast operations tempo for the Advisor team has pushed them to the edge of their comfort zone and challenged them to learn and grow.
"This mission doesn't stop," Owens said.
"Right now, we have partners coming in conducting key leader engagements. This is a 24-hour mission. I think many of the guys on the Advisor team are learning a lot and learning who they are based on that commitment to their partner."
As night falls and the commotion of daily life settles, the sights and sounds of war are present. Tracer rounds, rockets and mortar explosions are heard. Lasers shine like beacons through night vision goggles. While the rest of the world sleeps, Advisor Team 2220 continues to work through the night enabling their Afghan partners to conduct offensive operations.
"We have great 24-hour communication with the Advisor team," said Afghan 1st Lt. Jawad Rashidi, aide to the 3rd Bde., 203rd Corps commander. "If we need support or advice, the Advisor team helps us make it happen."
Advisor Team 2220 focuses on the influence they have. As an enabler for the Afghans to conduct offensive operations, this relationship requires cooperation from both the U.S. and coalition partners as well as the Afghan partner in receiving support. The Advisor team will continue their advising mission during their nine-month tour and adapt to change to help the ANA and security force work towards a stable political settlement in Afghanistan.
"I've always wanted to work in a small team on the front line and to make an impact," said Sgt. John Saylor, a maintenance Advisor from 6th Battalion, Logistics Advising Company, 2nd SFAB and attached to Advisor Team 2220. "I didn't think I would be here when I joined, but the SFAB gave me the opportunity to come out here and I love it. We have to be comfortable with ambiguity and change, so this is great for me."