SFABs Adjust Unique Role for Large-Scale Combat

SFABs Adjust Unique Role for Large-Scale Combat

Army advisors assigned to 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade participate in a validation exercise, Jan. 29, at Ft. Benning, Ga. The validation exercise certifies the advisors’ ability to support foreign military partners in conflict. U.S. Army photo by Maj. Jason Elmore
Photo by: U.S. Army/Maj. Jason Elmore

Marking a shift in their mission, the Army’s security force assistance brigades are training to operate with and advise partners and allies in large-scale combat operations.

First established in 2018, the scaled-down, specialized brigades were created to advise and assist foreign security forces while freeing up Army brigade combat teams to remain ready for and conduct combat operations.

As the Army ramps up its capabilities for large-scale combat operations, the special brigades, known as SFABs, are now conducting validation exercises to operate with partners and allies in a conflict environment.

The 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade completed a combat-oriented validation exercise in early February at Fort Benning, Georgia, where it has its headquarters. The 19-day exercise was to ensure the brigade’s soldiers could carry out their mission with foreign security forces during conflict.

Soldiers assigned to the 1st SFAB worked with role-players to rehearse advising and assisting during simulated large-scale combat operations in which they also were permitted to defend themselves by engaging an opposing force, according to brigade spokesman Maj. Jason Elmore.

“They’ll get about a year’s worth of training, and then they come to this final validation exercise,” Capt. Brian Dykeman, the lead planner for the exercise, said in an Army news release.

The February exercise is “very specific, because it’s the first time we have validated our teams to support in conflict,” Dykeman said. “Our advisers will be trained, whether they are supporting our partners through competition or a crisis situation.”

During the exercise, advisers from the SFAB helped the role-players plan military operations and accompanied them on scenario-driven missions throughout the Fort Benning training area, reacting to contact when needed.

The SFABs are organized like conventional brigades and manned by approximately 800 seasoned officers and NCOs of various branches and MOSs. The units are regionally aligned with combatant commands and deploy on six-month rotations to build relationships and provide security cooperation continuity with partner nations.

The 1st SFAB is aligned with U.S. Southern Command; the 2nd SFAB at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, is aligned with U.S. Africa Command; the 3rd SFAB at Fort Hood, Texas, is aligned with U.S. Central Command; the 4th SFAB at Fort Carson, Colorado, is aligned with U.S. European Command; and the 5th SFAB at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, is aligned with U.S. Indo-Pacific Command.

The sixth SFAB, known as the 54th SFAB, is a National Guard brigade with battalions in Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Texas.

Each brigade is slated to undergo validation exercises like the 1st SFAB between now and the end of the summer, according to Sgt. 1st Class Adrian Patoka, spokesman for the Security Force Assistance Command.