U.S. Army’s 5th Security Force Assistance Brigade Officially Activates

By Maj. Bill Leasure, 5th SFABMay 28, 2020

The U.S. Army’s 5th Security Force Assistance Brigade Officially Activates
The 5th Security Force Assistance Brigade Command pauses for a photo with commanders and the brigade and battalion colors on Watkins Field, Joint Base Lewis McChord, Washington following the activation ceremony for 5th SFAB, May 27, 2020. The 5th SFAB is in the process of becoming regionally-aligned with the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command and plans on sending advisor teams to bolster partnerships in the Pacific in the near future. (Photo Credit: Maj. William Leasure) VIEW ORIGINAL

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. – Today, the U.S. Army officially activated the 5th Security Force Assistance Brigade on Watkins Field, Joint Base Lewis McChord, Washington.

This activation brings the final SFAB into the Army force structure and represents the culmination of General Mark A. Milley’s vision to create six new combat brigades, specially manned and equipped with seasoned volunteers from across all warfighting communities with a singular mission- to advise, support, liaise, and assess allied and partner security forces.

Due to travel restrictions, Army Security Force Assistance Command Commander, Brig. Gen. Mark Landes spoke via video from Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

"This is the final activation for the command and this ceremony signifies an important milestone not only for 5th Brigade but for the Army,” Landes said. “The Army now has all six SFABs activated.”

The ceremony was presided over by Commanding General, U.S. Army Forces Command, Gen. Michael Garrett, along with other distinguished leaders from the Joint Base Lewis McChord community.

“With today’s activation of 5th SFAB, the Army can make good on its promise to align each SFAB with a Geographic Combatant Command – and 5th SFAB will align with United States Indo-Pacific Command,” Garrett said.

The 5th SFAB is led by Brigade Commander Col. Curtis Taylor and Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Craven. The brigade features six battalions: two infantry battalions, a cavalry squadron, a field artillery battalion, a brigade engineer battalion and a brigade support battalion.

“A key lesson from the last 18 years of war is that true military power is often better measured by the depth of our relationships than in it is by the number of battalions we have in the field,” Taylor said. “In coalition warfare, trust is combat power and building trust takes time.”

The 5th Security Force Assistance Brigade began to receive personnel and equipment on June 16, 2019 and over the past year has hired 90% of its required personnel. Its six battalions will begin collective training at JBLM and bolstering partnerships in the region in the coming months.

The SFAB organization consists mostly of senior and mid-grade NCOs who have proven their warfighting expertise in conventional assignments before being selected into the brigade.

“The US has many natural advantages but none so great as the professionalism, self-discipline, and goodwill of its non-commissioned officer corps,” Taylor said.  “Our adversaries may one day match our technology, but they will never match our sergeants. The SFAB, by design, places this great asymmetric strength - our world class NCO Corps, at the center of global competition.”

The brigade’s collective training will culminate in a rotation at the Joint Readiness Training Center in November of this year where they will be joined by 1st Brigade, 2nd ID to demonstrate the capability of an SFAB to combat advise a highly-capable and well-trained partner in a conventional fight against a peer adversary.

Following this certification event, the Advisors of the Vanguard Brigade will begin a series of six-month deployments into the USINDOPACOM region, always maintaining a third of its Advisor teams forward in the contact layer of strategic competition.