SFAB Soldiers Prepare Defensive Plans in an Early Morning Meeting
SFAB Soldiers discuss their security plan during an early morning huddle at Fort Polk, La., Nov. 22, 2020. The SFAB is closely integrated with 1-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team throughout JRTC Rotation 21-2 in a partnered scenario defending against a hostile force invasion. (Photo Credit: Maj. William Leasure, 5th Security Force Assistance Brigade Public Affairs) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT POLK, La. – The 5th Security Force Assistance Brigade completed a first-of-its kind-rotation at the Joint Readiness Training Center’s 21-2 Rotation partnering an SFAB with a real-world unit, the Joint Base Lewis-McChord-based 1-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team, “The Ghost Brigade,” in a decisive action validation exercise, Nov. 13-26, 2020.

“JRTC 21-02 was the culmination of 5th SFAB's mission since its inception in June 2019 to man, equip, and train the Army's newest combat brigade,” Brigade Operations Officer, Maj. Liam Walsh, said. “The training served as a proof of principle as the first SFAB Decisive Action CTC rotation.”

SFAB Soldier Launches a Raven during JRTC Rotation 21-2
Staff Sgt. Warren Mohan, 1st Battalion, 5th Security Force Assistance Brigade launches a Raven during training alongside 1-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team, Nov. 10, 2020 at Joint Readiness Training Center 21-2 at Fort Polk, La. JRTC Rotation 21-2 is a unique training environment where the 1-2 SBCT simulates a partner force brigade with 5th SFAB advising, supporting, liaising, and assessing alongside them to successfully deter and, if necessary, defend against invasion from a hostile force. (Photo Credit: Staff Sgt. Francisco Colon, 1-2 SBCT Public Affairs) VIEW ORIGINAL

The Ghost Brigade closely integrated with SFAB Soldiers from the Brigade down to the Platoon level throughout the exercise.

“Our units worked alongside 5th SFAB, replicating the role of a professional, near-peer Allied army, which the SFAB was tasked to support as they would for a real-world partner force in the Indo-Pacific Command Area of Responsibility,” 1-2 SBCT Commander Col. Jared Bordwell said. “From the brigade to the individual levels, this rotation was all about supporting one another to make our team unbeatable.”

SFAB Soldier Provides Security During Defensive Operations
Capt. Sean Clough, Brigade Network Operation Officer, pulls a guard shift as he defends the Brigade Tactical Operation Center, Nov. 25, 2020 at Joint Readiness Training Center Rotation 21-2, Fort Polk, La. The rotation was designed to span the continuum of conflict- competition to crisis to combat operations alongside a simulated partner force, 1-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team. (Photo Credit: Maj. William Leasure, 5th SFAB Public Affairs) VIEW ORIGINAL

The SFAB is completely comprised of volunteers who were carefully vetted for service in the organization.

“This rotation has demonstrated that specially trained SFAB Soldiers, selected for their tactical expertise and professionalism, organized into small cohesive teams, and equipped with advanced communications systems can provide a decisive advantage to a threatened but capable foreign partner,” 5th SFAB Commanding General Brig. Gen. Curtis Taylor said.

The 5th SFAB Commander, Brig. Gen. Curt Taylor travels to a key leader engagement and a combined press conference with a simulated partner force, Nov. 14, 2020 in the simulated nation of South Torbia at Fort Polk, La. The training at Joint Readiness Training Center 21-2 reflects the intensive diplomatic training that SFAB leaders must possess in a complex operational environment.
The 5th SFAB Commander, Brig. Gen. Curt Taylor travels to a key leader engagement and a combined press conference with a simulated partner force, Nov. 14, 2020 in the simulated nation of South Torbia at Fort Polk, La. The training at Joint Readiness Training Center 21-2 reflects the intensive diplomatic training that SFAB leaders must possess in a complex operational environment. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

Altogether, seven units participated in the rotation including the 593rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command, 404th Army Field Support Brigade, 16th Combat Aviation Brigade, 2-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team, and the U.S. Marine Corps’ 6th Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company.

Aviation support proved extremely critical during the rotation.

“The 16th CAB’s assets here allowed 5th SFAB to support 1-2 SBCT with a unique aviation capability of Apache and Blackhawk helicopters,” Brigade Aviation Officer, Maj. Ryan Hampton said. “Integrating recon, attack and lift assets for 1-2 SBCT’s scheme of maneuver allowed them to seamlessly expand their lethal reach across the battlefield.”

AH-64 Apache Helicopter Engages Targets at JRTC 21-2
An AH-64 Apache helicopter assigned to 16th Combat Aviation Brigade engages a target at Joint Readiness Training Center 21-2 in support of 5th Security Force Assistance Brigade and 1-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team, Nov. 12, 2020 at Fort Polk, La. The integration of U.S. Army Aviation assets provided an opportunity for the SFAB to liaise and support 1-2 SBCT who were role playing a foreign partner force without access to attack aviation assets. (Photo Credit: Courtesy) VIEW ORIGINAL

Hampton’s hard work in this regard earned him the title of, “Hero of the Battlefield” from JRTC Operations Group. Another Soldier recognized was 3rd Squadron Operations Advisor, Staff Sgt. Erica Myers.

“After training out here for two weeks, I really saw how diversity within our teams is a must,” Myers said. No one knows everything needed to successfully train alongside our partners, every Soldier is a crucial piece of the big picture.”

Myers’ also got the opportunity to advise several junior Soldiers from Ghost Brigade on the Raven Small Unmanned Aircraft System.

SFAB Solider trains 1-2 SBCT Soldier on Raven operations
Staff Sgt. Erica Myers, an Operations Advisor with 5th Security Force Assistance Brigade, mentors a Soldier from 1-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team, Nov. 10, 2020 during Joint Readiness Training Center Rotation 21-2 at Fort Polk, La. The rotation featured opportunities for SFAB Advisors to Advise, Support, Liaise and Assess from the Brigade down to Platoon level with 1-2 SBCT. (Photo Credit: Staff Sgt. Francisco Colon, 1-2 SBCT Public Affairs) VIEW ORIGINAL

“They were certified but lacked confidence and understanding of their equipment,” Myers said. “The more time I had with them, the more confidence they gained. By the end of the rotation, I was able to get one of them their first solo flight and night flight.”

Myer’s Squadron Commander, Lt. Col. Timothy Ferguson shared a similar sentiment following the exercise.

"Our experience during JRTC 21-02 was a tremendous learning opportunity as it enabled us to visualize our role in the organization,” Ferguson said. “We gained invaluable experience through live repetition with our partnered force while forcing us to adapt and develop strategies across the competition, crisis, and conflict phases.

Soldiers from 1-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team and 5th Security Force Assistance Brigade hold a Thanksgiving Dinner inside the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, La, Nov. 26, 2020.  Over 3,400 Soldiers were served during the holiday dinner at the conclusion of a successful two-week rotation at JRTC.
Soldiers from 1-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team and 5th Security Force Assistance Brigade hold a Thanksgiving Dinner inside the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, La, Nov. 26, 2020. Over 3,400 Soldiers were served during the holiday dinner at the conclusion of a successful two-week rotation at JRTC. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

The 5th SFAB is expected to continue sending Teams into the Indo-Pacific region alongside U.S. partners there.

“As we look across the world today, there are many potential crisis scenarios where this kind of capability is absolutely vital to deterring aggression against US Allies and Partners,” Brig. Gen. Taylor said.

The 5th SFAB officially activated in May 2020 and has since sent Soldiers on missions to Thailand and Indonesia. With JRTC complete, the 5th SFAB has been validated for worldwide deployment in support of U.S. Combatant Commanders’ priorities.