HUA HIN, Thailand — As Soldiers from the Royal Thai Army gather to discuss a recent training event with their U.S. Army counterparts, one U.S. Soldier in particular stands out from the other 200 Soldiers gathered.
While you may guess what sets this Soldier apart is their brown beret or the Senior Rated Jumpmaster Wings proudly displayed on the Soldier’s chest, you’d only be partially correct.
The leader of this highly-trained Advisory Team is one of the 5th Security Force Assistance Brigade’s most tactically proficient leaders, her name is Capt. Jordan Browder.
Capt. Browder was hand-selected to lead Maneuver Advisor Team 5323, a cross-functional team of conventional Army Soldiers who volunteered and passed a rigorous selection process.
The team has experts in combined arms maneuver, generally a combat hardened senior Infantry NCO, a logistics expert, an expert in field artillery, a combat engineer, a medic and a communications expert – 12 Advisors in all.
Browder is one of the first women in the U.S. Army to lead a MAT in the Army’s SFABs, a relatively new type of Army unit started in 2017 that provides Advisory capability to U.S. Allies and Partners around the world.
For Browder, a Military Police Officer by trade, her path to the U.S. Army began in South Florida.
“I wanted to be a fighter pilot in the Air Force, and my parents definitely thought the military was just a phase that I would grow out of, and clearly, I never did,” Browder said.
After the death of her mother at the age of 19 forced her to leave the Air Force in order to take care of her siblings and her family’s construction business, Browder was encouraged by a friend to join the Army as an officer through the University of Central Florida’s Reserve Officer Training Corps.
Browder longed to be a field artillery officer but in 2010, the Field Artillery did not offer careers advantageous to women. Browder chose Military Intelligence. It didn’t fit her.
“I didn't really care for military intelligence,” Browder said. “I wanted to be outside. I wanted to run ranges and lead Soldiers on the ground. I wanted to have a wider influence with Soldiers, so in 2018, I transferred over to military police.”
Browder did get an opportunity to serve in a field artillery unit back in 2012, serving in 3/2 Stryker Brigade’s 1st Battalion, 37th Field Artillery Regiment where she was the only woman in the battalion, serving as the unit’s assistant intelligence officer.
While there, a fortuitous event occurred, she met a young field artillery officer, her future husband, now Maj. Christopher Browder. He was sold on Jordan from the start.
“Jordan is an extremely hard worker who strives for perfection starting with herself and then providing an example for others around her to emulate,” Maj. Browder said.
“She can read people extremely well possessing emotional intelligence, in a way that allows her flexibility in her leadership style to achieve uncommon results with any team.”
Jordan proved this when she walked onto the 5th SFAB team as a Captain, filling the Brigade Provost Marshal position after impressing the Brigade Deputy Commander, Col. Andrew Watson following an initial interview in 2019.
Browder was given the herculean task of formulating the newly-formed brigade’s culminating training event designed to certify teams prior to the brigade’s rotation to the Army’s Joint Readiness Training Center in Nov. 2020.
“I thought company command was challenging, but working on brigade staff and planning its certifying training events was hugely formative for me,” Capt. Browder said. “I learned so much as a senior captain when, in contrast, most majors in an equivalent position at a conventional brigade really don't get the opportunity to dig in and learn.”
Browder’s expertise and credibility has earned her the respect of her Non-Commissioned Officers. Sgt. 1st Class Cody Webster is the NCO-in-Charge of MAT 5323, he’s the senior enlisted advisor to Capt. Browder.
“We knew that the Royal Thai Army did not permit female soldiers within their maneuver units, our team was concerned with how a female SFAB Team Leader would be received in Thailand,” Webster said.
“The moment Capt. Browder introduced herself and the team to the RTA, their demeanor changed. The positive change and the relationships that were built because of that interaction was something very unique to see. It truly made a difference.”
Capt. Browder’s team prepared for months for the mission in Thailand with long hours of foundational training at the rifle range and in the classroom, culminating in their validation exercise in Hawaii during Joint Pacific Multinational Training Center 22-01 serving as a liaison to an RTA platoon consisting of some of Thailand’s most elite Soldiers. One of those soldiers was 2nd Lt. Surayus Rungrueng from the RTA’s 112th Infantry Regiment.
“I learned a lot from Capt. Browder especially in regards to leadership and how to manage a team,” Rungrueng said. “She is a very considerate person who helped me with operation orders and in coordinating logistics.”
At the RTA’s Expert Infantryman’s Badge competition in Camp Thanarat, Rungrueng was one of only 16 competitors out of 166 who earned the coveted pin for his uniform.
Afterwards he sought out MAT 5323 to tell them it was their mentorship that helped lead him to receiving his EIB.
Browder is clearly making a difference in Thailand and RTA leadership is noticing.
“As I talk to RTA leaders, I’m finding they really would like to model a lot of their tactics and organizational operations based off of U.S. doctrine,” Capt Browder said. “They appreciate the fact that the U.S. Army enables females to perform duties like maneuver advisor team leaders and the access to lead across all war fighting functions.”
Browder’s unit will only serve in Thailand for about six months but her effects in country could be lasting.
“The RTA find the concept of women serving in combat roles fascinating, and that is a step that they would like to take sometime in the future to allow their females to integrate into their infantry, field artillery, and engineer units,” Capt. Browder said.
Browder shrugs off the challenges facing her as a female.
“The only thing that's going to hold you back from being successful in your career is letting your fear of failing get in your way because failing is something army leaders need to be comfortable with doing; that's how we get better,” she said. “If we're not afraid to fail, then we can go as far and as fast as we want to, male or female.”
Along the way, Capt. Browder has demonstrated one of the most compelling aspects of the Army’s SFABs, the ability for one Captain to make a difference in a country with just the talents of their 12 personnel team and the strength of their personality, personal tact and intelligence.
Capt. Jordan Browder is making a difference with her team every day in Thailand, effectively ensuring a Free and Open Indo-Pacific while shoring up an ironclad relationship with the RTA.