Commander: Army 'Got It Right' With Brigade's Afghanistan Deployment

May 8, 2019 | BY C. Todd Lopez

The Army's security force assistance brigades are specialized units that conduct training, advising, assisting, enabling and accompanying operations with allied and partner nations.

Soldiers in SFABs are highly trained and among the top tactical leaders in the Army. Their work strengthens U.S. allies and partners while supporting national security objectives and combatant commanders' warfighting needs.

The 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade returned from Afghanistan in November, after a nine-month advise-and-assist mission there. It was the first mission of its kind for the new unit.

What did the 1st SFAB learn in Afghanistan?

"Persistent presence" with those being advised ensures greater success.

Afghan and American soldiers look at a computer.
Location Check
Army Spc. Stephen Powers, right, a communications advisor with Combat Advisor Team 1131, uses the Afghan National Tracking System to show his counterparts where Afghan soldiers are located during a clearing operation near Kabul, Afghanistan, Sept. 16, 2018.
Photo By: Sean Kimmons, DOD
VIRIN: 180916-D-VY538-856Y

"Units with persistent partners made more progress in planning and conducting offensive operations and in integrating organic Afghan enablers like field artillery and the Afghan air force than unpersistent partnered units," said Army Brig. Gen. Scott Jackson, 1st SFAB commander.

The SFAB fills a greater need than anticipated.

"As our Afghan partners began to understand the value of 1st SFAB advisors, they asked us for more," Jackson said. "So our teams partnered with more and more Afghan units as the deployment progressed."

Afghan and American soldiers meet outdoors near a fuel truck.
Sharing Tips
Army Sgt. 1st Class James Mills, right, a combat medic with Combat Advisor Team 1131, shares tips with his Afghan National Army counterparts during an Afghan-led operation near Kabul, Afghanistan, Sept. 16, 2018.
Photo By: Sean Kimmons, DOD
VIRIN: 180916-D-VY538-747Y

In all, Jackson said, during their nine-month deployment to Afghanistan, the 800-person 1st SFAB ran 58 advisory teams and partnered with more than 30 Afghan battalions, 15 brigades, multiple regional training centers, a corps headquarters, and a capital division headquarters.

People, equipment and training matter.

"I believe we could only accomplish our mission ... and validate the effectiveness of an SFAB because the Army got it right — the Army issued us the right equipment, and provided us the right training to be successful," the general said. "But most importantly, we selected the people for this mission ... the key to our success is the talented, adaptable, and experienced volunteers who served in this brigade."

American and Afghan soldiers share a meal.
Sharing a Meal
U.S. and Afghan soldiers share a traditional Afghan meal as part of a meeting to honor Army Command Sgt. Maj. Timothy Bolyard at Camp Dahlke, Afghanistan, Sept. 22, 2018.
Photo By: Sean Kimmons, DOD
VIRIN: 180922-D-VY538-293Y