Sunday, October 22, 2017

SFABs - Once Again or "TA3E"

Soldiers of 1st SFAB fire 9 mm pistols during training (photo credit below)

In 2012 the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) deployed hundreds of Security Force Assistance Advisory Teams or SFAATs with the task to train, advise, and assist the Afghan National Army (ANA) and Afghan National Police (ANP) as part of the overall Security Force Assistance (SFA) mission. Of course, this was not the first time that advisor teams had worked in Afghanistan but it was perhaps the largest advisor effort of the conflict. In 2013 the U.S. changed the structure of the brigade combat teams (BCTs) deploying to Afghanistan - leaving behind many of the lower-ranking Soldiers. In this new organizational structure the BCTs resembled the 'Advise and Assist Brigades' (AABs) that deployed to Iraq toward the end of that conflict. The SFABs were re-deployed to the United States once the Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and the ISAF mission down-sized and concluded. The BCTs returned to the states, discarded the emphasis of the SFA mission, and returned to the normal training activities it conducted prior to the Afghan deployment.

However, the use of the SFABs in an advisory capacity was not forgotten. General Milley - now head of the Army - served as the commander of the ISAF Joint Command (IJC) in Kabul while the SFABs were at the height of the deployment cycle in Afghanistan. He saw the value in the SFABs but also noted they were an ad hoc arrangement. He decided to institutionalize the SFAB concept. The Army is now establishing six SFABs. Five active and one reserve component. The first one has stood up at Fort Benning and is undergoing training in the tasks associated with Security Force Assistance.

The 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade will deploy to Afghanistan in early 2018. So, once again, we will see the SFABs back in Afghanistan. The difference is that it isn't an ad hoc arrangement . . . and hopefully that will improve the caliber of the advising effort with the ANA and ANP. The unit's core mission is to "train, advise, assist, accompany and enable missions with allied and partner nations".

So observers of the Afghan conflict will note that previous advisors and advisor teams were very attuned to TAA or 'train, advise and assist'. However, now we have TAA plus 'accompany' and 'enable'. In a push to get the ANA up to speed advisor teams will now (once again) work below corps level at brigade and kandak (battalion) unit level. I suspect this is the 'accompany' part of the mission. The 'enable' part would likely be the providing of ISR, artillery, and close air support 'enablers' along with other types of support.

So welcome to the "TA3E" mission!


"All Things SFAB - Explainer of Security Force Assistance Brigades", SOF News, October 10, 2017.

"First Security Force Assistance Brigade training for deployment",, October 12, 2017.

Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by SGT Joseph Truckley, 50th Public Affairs Detachment. Soldiers of the 92nd Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade fire their 9 mm pistols at Hibbs Range on October 17, 2017 at Fort Benning, Georgia.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.