Showing posts with label ETTs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ETTs. Show all posts

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Training for Security Force Assistance Teams for Afghanistan

The U.S. military will soon deploy to Afghanistan over 1,400 Soldiers who will be split into 18-person training teams.  These training teams will be much like the MiTT or training teams deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. Their mission falls into the "advise and assist" world - attached to Afghan security forces to provide advise, access to enablers (air support, medevac), and provide battlefield situational awareness for ISAF. To prepare for the mission the Soldiers will complete a three-week training course at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, La.  Hmmmmmm.  Is three weeks enough?  Read more in "Army Details Afghan Transition Deployment Plans",, February 17, 2012.

I wonder what the process is for selecting, training and organizing the advisors who will have an extremely important role in this advisory effort. The early Military Transition Teams (MiTTs) in Iraq and Embedded Transition Teams (ETTs) in Afghanistan were less than optimum as a result of poor selection and training of the advisors. Learn more about these advisory teams during the early years of the Iraq and Afghanistan War.

The U.S. military has a history of not selecting and training military advisors properly (outside of the Special Forces ranks).  This happened during the Vietnam War (although reportedly the Marines did better than the Army).  Many times advisors were assigned with little cultural training, very basic language skills (3 weeks language training), and with no regard to military occupational specialty.  Initially the language training for an advisor heading to Vietnam was three or four weeks of French, not Vietnamese.

During the Vietnam War some U.S. military advisors were sent to a training school at the U.S. Army Special Warfare School at Fort Bragg, NC where they learned culture, language, how to call for artillery, air support, and medevac, and about the responsibilities, roles and duties of an advisor.  They would then be assigned to South Vietnamese Army units to aid in the counterinsurgency fight.  The Military Assistance Training Advisor course (MATA) course was established in 1962 and taught by Special Forces officers and NCOs. It was initially 4-weeks long and later increased to a longer course. In 1970 the Marines established a three-month long advisor course.

Some handbooks were published to assist the advisors to South Vietnam units. One was entitled the MATA Handbook or FM 3-73 - also called the Advisors Handbook for Stability Operations.  There was also a MATA Handbook for Vietnam, ST 31-179, January 1966.  (Found here on Small Wars Journal). The Army also published FM 31-73, Advisor Handbook for Stability Operations. The current handbook for advisors is entitled TC 31-73, Special Forces Advisor Guide, 2008.

There were some lessons learned about the Vietnam War advisory effort. These are captured in a paper entitled "Lessons Learned from Advising and Training the Republic of South Vietnam's Armed Forces", by MAJ Thomas Clinton, USMC, 2007. Accessed here on

Those lessons learned from the Vietnam War advisory effort are briefly related here.  The careful selection of individuals to be advisors is extremely important. Some officers and NCOs are just not cut out for the job.  In addition, the training of the advisors is critical and should include:

Intensive language and cultural training
Training and certification in tactical communications equipment
Training and certification in controlling close air support
Training and certification in indirect fire support
Training in coordinating medical evacuation support
Training in how to be an effective liaison officer