By Scott PraterMountaineer staffFORT CARSON, Colo. — It’s been over a year since the 4th Security Force Assistance Brigade stood up at Fort Carson. Since then, its Soldiers have been intently preparing for a unique mission set, one that will take them overseas for an extended period, but also one they’ve anticipated since they joined the exclusive unit.Their wait finally ended Tuesday, as the Army officially activated the 4th SFAB during a virtual ceremony.Gen. Michael X. Garrett, commander, U.S. Army Forces Command, presided over the ceremony, which saw those in attendance standing more than six feet apart in accordance with pandemic response guidelines.The fifth of six such brigades in the Army, the 4th SFAB stood up in January 2019 as a brand-new unit. Brigade leaders started from scratch back then, not only recruiting Soldiers from across Fort Carson and other Army installations, but also acquiring supplies, equipment and everything from office space to training vehicles.Created with the intention of alleviating an enduring advise-and-assist mission load on brigade combat teams, the SFABs are new formations specially trained and built to enable combatant commanders to accomplish theater-security objectives. They train, advise and assist allied and partnered indigenous security forces.Previously, the Army created its adviser teams by pulling Soldiers from conventional brigade combat units.“Though necessary at the time, all of this had a long-term, negative impact on total force readiness,” Garrett said. “Back then, we treated security force assistance as a peripheral task when, in fact, it is central to the National Defense Strategy and our Army’s mission.”Now fully merged into the Army’s structure, the SFABs serve as permanent organizations that provide a more concerted effort than previous ad hoc formations. Since 2018, SFABs have deployed to assist foreign partners in Afghanistan, Iraq and Africa. Members of an SFAB train, deploy and redeploy together as part of an enduring group.The first SFABs activated in 2018, as part of a refocused train, assist and advise strategy and the Army quickly began forming additional brigades under the Security Force Assistance Command umbrella.Security force assistance is far from a new concept, the general said, as today’s heritage can be traced back to the Military Assistance Command-Vietnam created in the 1960s for the war.He emphasized there is now an increasing need for combat advisers, which free up traditional brigades to better prepare for large-scale ground combat operations and adversaries.“They are Soldiers who can build teams, solve complex problems and succeed in uncertain environments,” he said.The newest combat advisers have already learned specialized skills from the Military Advisor Training Academy, as well as advanced medical training; survival, evasion, resistance and escape training; and foreign weapons training.This summer, the 4th SFAB is slated to conduct the next rotation at the Joint Readiness Training Center in Fort Polk, Louisiana.It will be “the first one out of the shoot as we work to figure out how we maintain readiness as we adjust to the new normal,” Garrett said.Brig. Gen. Mark Landes, commander of the Security Force Assistance Command at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, participated in the ceremony via videoconference.He called the ceremony “historic and atypical,” but said while the ongoing threat from the COVID-19 virus has changed how the Army operates, it has not changed its essence.“COVID-19 has allowed us another opportunity to showcase our character, our capability and our adaptability,” he said. “This ceremony signifies 4th SFAB’s transformation into a trained and deployable formation. Every person in the unity and victory formation was selected and relocated to the unit.”Consisting of roughly 800 Soldiers, the 4th SFAB is scheduled to replace the 3rd SFAB in the U.S. Central Command area.“These SFABs are advising, assisting and developing professional organized militaries that can fight for themselves,” Landes said.Col. James Dooghan, commander, 4th SFAB, said he was confident that each adviser is fully trained and equipped with the best tools to tackle the challenge.“We selected the right people in the right positions to be ready and effective in assessing, advising, mentoring and assisting our international partners,” he said. “We’re proud to officially announce our activation and we look forward to this mission.”