SFABs Evolving for Future, Multidomain Fight

SFABs Evolving for Future, Multidomain Fight

Maj. Gen. Donn Hill, commanding general of the Security Force Assistance Command speaks at AUSA Warfighter 2023
Photo by: AUSA/Jared Lieberher

Originally created to advise Afghan security forces, the Army’s security force assistance brigades are evolving to operate on a multidomain operations battlefield.

“The adviser teams of today are purposely designed to advise at the tactical level and at the kandak level,” Maj. Gen. Donn Hill, commanding general of the Security Force Assistance Command, said, using the term used to describe Afghan battalions. “We were all about counterinsurgency and stability operations, but the world has changed. The Army is changing.”

The six security force assistance brigades—five in the Regular Army and one in the Army National Guard—are “very rapidly” transitioning “from that Afghan-centric fight” to regional alignments and preparing for large-scale combat operations, Hill said during a fireside chat July 26 at the Association of the U.S. Army’s Warfighter Summit and Exposition in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

“We’re good in the competition space, we’re doing it every day,” he said. “We’re going to continue to refine that so we can continue to support the theaters and the joint force, to increase interoperability and to then support if [things] turn into large-scale combat operations.”

Hill, who took command last May, said his unit is spending a lot of time understanding how its adviser brigades and teams can and should be integrated into theater campaign plans while meeting combatant commanders’ needs and partnering with allies and partners around the world.

“We’re in 30 countries on any given day,” Hill said about the security force assistance brigades. Additionally, the teams are on the ground persistently, spending six months with partner armies before they are replaced by another team.

Since their creation beginning in 2017, the security force assistance brigades have become “really good in the competition space,” Hill said. “The brigades, the theater armies have learned how to employ us,” he said.

Now, the command and the brigades are looking at multidomain operations and large-scale combat operations and the advisers’ role in the fight, Hill said.

One benefit of the security force assistance brigades is their ability to operate at echelon, Hill said. Advisers can work with partners at the company or battalion level, but they also can work at the enterprise level, he said. As an example, the command has advisers in several countries who are advising partners on their NCO education system or professional military education, working on programs of instruction and standardizing leader development programs, he said. Others are working at the depot level, working with a country’s equivalent of the Army Materiel Command on sustainment and maintenance, Hill said.

Looking ahead, Hill said the command will continue finetuning its role in the future fight. “We’ve got the opportunity to make sure we’re refining our force structure, our organization, our training and our leader development to make sure we’re tied in with the Army,” he said.