The Georgia Army National Guard’s Fort Benning-based Team 6120, Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 54th Security Forces Brigade, 648th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade deployed Oct. 30 to Nov. 18, 2022, to Tolemaida Military Base, Colombia to support and participate in Exercise Southern Vanguard 23.
Southern Vanguard 23 is an annual exercise conducted by U.S. Army South within the U.S. Southern Command area of responsibility which trains units at the operational and tactical levels to increase coordination between the U.S. and Western Hemisphere forces, in this instance, Colombia.
A Security Force Assistance Brigade (SFAB) is a specialized United States Army unit formed to conduct security force assistance (SFA) missions: to conduct advise, support, liaise, assess operations at echelon to enable operations with allied and partner nations. SFABs are intended to reduce the burden of such operations on U.S. Special Forces organizations after extensive SFA missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, allowing them to focus on training and operating with allied and partner national elite units.
“Team 6120’s focus for Southern Vanguard is to increase Colombian Army’s capability and capacity to conduct mission command at the Battalion operational and tactical level,” said Maj. Chris Dumais, commander and team leader, Team 6120. “Our Advisor’s developed a Combined Staff training plan focusing on the NATO Seven-Step operational planning process and direct support during a Combined Task-Force exercise.”
As a result of the Advisor’s security force assistance effort to build the institutional knowledge for the Colombian Army to support future multinational, regional and combined/joint interoperability at the tactical level between Colombian allies and partner nations. Overall, in accordance with the Integrated Country Strategy of the U.S. Embassy in Bogota, the goal of Team 6120 is that U.S. forces are the partner of choice in future training and potential operations for the Colombian Army.
SFAB Team 6120 is a 12-Soldier team comprised of experts in maneuver, fires, intelligence, explosive hazards, and support who are embedded with the Colombian Army to increase their ability to work with U.S., NATO, and partner nations.
The primary focus of the SFAB’s during the exercise is to assist the Colombian’s ability to perform command and control duties of their force conducting operations throughout the exercise.
“Our combined level of experience working in forward environments and our level of training provide the Colombians with subject matter experts which improve their ability to focus their forces,” said Sgt. 1st Class Hector Umaña, operations noncommissioned officer, Team 6120.”
Additionally, the SFAB are validating the Colombian soldier’s communication plan at the tactical-level and utilizing new command and control devices such as the CivTak (Civilian Tactical Awareness Kit) to improve situational awareness of the platoon and squad leaders. The ability to understand and anticipate the operational picture assists leaders in understanding the operational picture and can exercise disciplined initiative in the absence of orders from higher.
“The ability to utilize the CivTak and validate their communication procedures ensure commanders at all levels have the proper information,” said Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Davant, fires support advisor, Team 6120. “It ensures they have a common operating picture.”
The partnership between the U.S. and Colombian Army dates back almost 70 years ago to the Korean War when the Colombian Battalion, (an infantry battalion of the Colombian Army that served under United Nations Command during the Korean War from 1951 to 1954) the first Colombian military unit to serve in Asia, was attached to the U.S. 7th Infantry Division and 25th Infantry Divisions under 8th Army. There we fought and sacrificed to defend the freedom of our ally. The Colombian Battalion suffered 163 killed in action, 448 wounded, 60 missing, and 30 captured over the course of the conflict.
One of the most important missions of Team 6120 is ensuring partnerships at the tactical level and improving relationships between the U.S. military and Colombian forces. Team 6120 has inserted members at the team-level of the Colombian Army to accomplish this.
“Colombian Soldiers are definitely interested in our operational experiences over the last twenty years, and we are learning how they operate in decentralized environments at the tactical level,” said Staff Sgt. Jose Hernandez, explosive hazards advisor, Team 6120. “They are some of the most professional and dedicated partner forces I’ve had the pleasure to work with.”