Showing posts with label SFAAT. Show all posts
Showing posts with label SFAAT. Show all posts

Friday, April 24, 2015

COIN Strategy Doesn't Work?

James F. Jeffrey explains in the March/April 2015 issue of Foreign Policy "Why Counterinsurgency Doesn't Work". He says the problem is in the strategy, not the execution. Huh. I thought that the execution was faulty but the strategy was good. The author explores the counterinsurgency wars of the United States in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He says our military can get the "Clear, Hold" parts of "Clear, Hold, Build" counterinsurgency done; but that the civilian agencies (DoS, DoJ, DEA, USAID, etc.) of the United States government always seem to fall short in the 'nation building' arena of the conflict.

Jeffrey concludes the article with this:
"What, then, should U.S. policymakers do when faced with an insurgency? If possible, Washington should respond by backing friendly local forces. If not, it should accept the consequences of a victorious insurgency, contain its spread, and protect critical allies. But to embark on another U.S.-troop-centric counterinsurgency mission would do an injustice to the fine men and women who serve in the U.S. military".
Ah. So now I get it. COIN strategy can be broken into two different approaches.

One approach is the use of massive amounts of U.S. troops on the ground in a foreign nation attaining a sufficient force to population ratio conducting counterinsurgency (and doing the lion's share of the fighting - as in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Vietnam). This type of COIN was endorsed in FM 3-24, Counterinsurgency,  2006. Some call this 'population-centric COIN."

A second approach is in the "By, With, and Through" methodology favored by U.S. Army Special Forces. This is where highly-trained Combat Foreign Internal Defense teams (C-FID) of twelve advisors are embedded with the indigenous host nation forces (at battalion and brigade level) to train, advise, and assist. In other words, let the host nation forces do the fighting (clear and hold) and the host nation (assisted by Civil Affairs teams and U.S. agencies) do the building. In a more hostile environment there may be the need for conventional FID teams (as in the SFAATs used in Afghanistan or the MiTTs in Iraq) to work in conjunction with SOF advisory teams.

So, in my view, it isn't the counterinsurgency strategy that is wrong - it is the approach and execution of that strategy.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

SFAAT 82 Completes Advisor Mission with ABP

Detachment 82, Security Force Assistance Advisory Team of the 80th Training Command completed the demobilization process at Fort Bliss, Texas after returning from a mission in Afghanistan where they advised the Afghan Border Police (ABP) at brigade level in Herat, Afghanistan. SFAAT 82 was comprised of 16 Soldiers from 10 different states that first met each other only a few months prior to their January 18, 2014 mobilization. The team leader of SFAAT 82 was complimentary of the ABP sayiing ". . . they are extremely professional, probably some of the better we've seen in the ANSF." Read more in "Det. 82, SFAAT completes mission in Afghanistan", DVIDS, December 9, 2014.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Advisor Selection for Afghan SFA Mission

The Security Force Assistance (SFA) mission is a difficult one. Members of ISAF are expected to deploy to Afghanistan and train, advise, and assist their Afghan counterparts in the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police. The SFA mission began in early 2012 with the deployment of hundreds of Security Force Assistance Advisor Teams (SFAATs). Unfortunately, the most important factor that contributes to the success of an advisory mission was not considered in many cases by the United States military. That factor is the proper selection of advisor personnel. In many instances, advisors did not (and do not) have the needed attributes to be effective with their Afghan counterparts (age, experience, training, education, rank, personality, etc.).
"The decisive point of any SFA mission may very well be the selection, training, and education of personnel in preparation for deployment". SFA Handbook, Joint Center for International Security Force Assistance, June 2012.
For instance, if one traveled through Regional Command East in 2012 and met the Intelligence officers serving as advisors on SFAATs you would find that almost 50% of them were Infantry Lieutenants with less than two years in the U.S. Army. While these young men were undoubtedly intelligent, smart, physically fit, and motivated they had (maybe) six months experience as an Infantry platoon leader, no previous combat deployment, and knew very little about the importance and role of intelligence in a counterinsurgency environment. An Infantry Lieutenant, age 24, with no previous combat deployment, and no Intel training or experience was expected to establish rapport with, develop a relationship with, and train, advise and assist an Afghan Intelligence officer (Captain, Major, or Colonel) for an ANA kandak (battalion), who may already have Intelligence training and experience, who likely had ten to 30 years of combat experience, and who was in the range of 30 to 50 years old. A tough job for a young inexperienced Infantry Lieutenant. Probably the only thing the Infantry Lieutenant could offer of importance to the senior Afghan Intelligence officer were maps, printer cartridges, and fuel.

In 2013 the Intelligence advisors to the 201st and 203rd ANA Corps in Regional Command East were Captains (fortunately with an Intel MOS and both very capable, smart, and motivated). However, these young Captains were advising Afghan Corps G2 staff officers with the rank of senior Colonel or General, more than 30 years in the Afghan Army, and with over 20 years of combat experience. A difficult task for any Captain; even our best. So this is an example of the U.S. Army's best effort in personnel assignments to important advisor positions.

Contrast the experience level of the U.S. Army Intel Advisors to the 201st and 203rd ANA Corps in 2013 with the current Intelligence advisor to the 205th ANA Corps in southern Afghanistan - Australian Army Major Mich Hahn. Major Hahn works in Train Advise and Assist Command - South (formerly Regional Command South). Read more in "Finding credibility through experience: Australian Intel officer brings 30 years of intelligence experience to TAAC-South"DVIDS, October 28, 2014.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Report - SFAAT AAR and Lessons Learned

Two Captains who recently completed a tour of duty in Regional Command East have wrote a paper about their time on their respective Security Force Assistance Advisory Team (SFAAT). Their report provides some lessons learned that future advisors to Afghanistan could find helpful. First Brigade of the 101st Airborne deployed to Kunar and Nangarhar provinces in late 2012 on a nine-month long deployment for the Security Force Assistance (SFA) mission. The SFA mission involved a transition from fighting and winning the counterinsurgency to a train, advise, and assist role. This caused the 1st Brigade to transform itself from a combat brigade to an advisory brigade. One of the SFAATs advised an ANA infantry kandak (battalion) and the other SFAAT advised an ANA Combat Support Kandak (CSK). The paper highlights some of the operational mechanics involved in the SFAAT mission and also provides key lessons. Read the report online or download at "Passing it On: Two SFAAT Teams in Afghanistan and Lessons Learned for Future Advisors", by Thomas McShea and Kyle Harnitchek, Small Wars Journal, October 27, 2014.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

SFAAT 200 Visits ABP Post On Iran Border

Security Force Assistance Advisor Team (SFAAT) 200 advises and assists the 705th Afghan Border Police (ABP) Zone Hqs with responsibility of the security of the Afghan-Iranian border. Recently SFAAT 200 went on a Staff Assistance Visit (SAV) and inspection that the ABP commander and his staff was conducting of a subordinate unit located at Islam Qala - an ABP post on the Iranian border. View a short video (2 mins) about the trip in "SFAAT 200 Meets with Afghan Leaders", DVIDS, October 20, 2014. (Photo from video).

Thursday, October 2, 2014


Seabees of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion Two Five (NMCB 25) are currently involved in a train, advise, and assist (TAA) mission with the Afghan National Engineer Brigade (NEB). "The mission ensures that the Afghan engineers are a viable, well-trained and equipped force ready to face the engineering and disaster response needs of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan." There are a variety of ANA engineer units found at brigade, corps and national level. At one time all the ANA engineer units had SFA Engineer Advisors. The NEB has a Specialty Engineering Kandak (SEK) that does water well and bridging projects and a Construction Engineering Kandak (CeNK) which does vertical and horizontal construction. Learn more about the job of the Seabees advisory effort in "Helping Hands: Reserve Seabees Prepare Afghan Engineers for the Future", DVIDS, October 28, 2014.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Video: SFAAT visits COP Kherwar, Logar Province

A Security Force Assistance Advisory Team (SFAAT) accompanied their Afghan National Army (ANA) counterparts on a clearing operation in the areas surrounding Combat Outpost Khewar in southern Logar province. COP Khewar was built in 2009 by the U.S. Army and for three years infantry companies occupied the COP; alongside their ANA counterparts. In 2011 the COP was turned over to a company of the ANA and the U.S. departed Khewar district. Watch a 13 minute video featuring the SFAAT advisors from "Dragon Troop" based at FOB Shank (also known as "Rocket City"), a "Show of Force" run and close air support by U.S. fighters, and some sniper activity in "VIDEO: US troops sent to advise Afghan forces drawn into firefight", Stars and Stripes, September 26, 2014.

Friday, September 26, 2014

SFAAT Teaches OCC-R How to Use COP

While the nation and world is focused on events in the Ukraine, Syria, Iraq and elsewhere; in the country of Afghanistan members of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) are still at work. Their principal mission in 2014 is Security Force Assistance or training, advising, and assisting the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) to become more proficient and able as the ISAF mission goes away at the end of 2014. Part of this mission is to ensure that the Operational Coordination Centers located at the regional level (usually co-located with the ANA Corps) are able to function on their own. This includes being able to track events on the battlefield. SFAAT 3 is currently advising the OCC-R South in Kandahar to plot significant acts that occur in their battlespace. While NATO and the U.S. military have sophisticated software applications that do this (C2PC, ADOCS, CPOF, etc.) the Afghans are many years behind. SFAAT 3 has put together a series of programs for the ANSF (similar to Google Maps) that has the ability to track all types of significant acts. Read more in "SFAAT 3 encourages teamwork by improving the ANSF common operating picture", DVIDS, September 19, 2014. (Photo by SSG Whitney Houston, RC South).

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

SFAAT and 203rd ANA Corps Engineer Kandak Celebrate Anniversary

In the photo to the left are members of the Security Force Assistance Adviser Team (SFAAT) of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division along with members of the Combat Engineer Kandak (CEK) of the 203rd ANA Corps at Forward Operating Base Thunder in Paktya province, Afghanistan. The occasion was the one year anniversary of the 203rd CEK. The CEKs of the Afghan National Army (ANA) are a relatively new unit fielded in 2013. Many of the members underwent on the job training once the unit completed its basic training at the central training facility. The CEK is primarily a construction unit (vertical and horizontal). Read more news articles about the ANA Combat Engineer Kandaks. (Photo by PFC Dixie Rae Liwanag, February 17, 2014).

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Guidance on Common Training Standards for Security Force Assistance (SFA) (DoD January 2014)

The Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness has published "Guidance on Common Training Standards for Security Force Assistance (SFA),  dated January 2014. The training standards are issued to assist the general purpose forces in sustaining the capability to perform the security force assistance or SFA mission. The pub was put together with the cooperation of USSOCOM and other defense organizations and agencies.

The primary purpose of the training standards are to: 1) "Provide a list of skills related to SAF that are common across the force and can be used as guidelines, with standards for measuring the qualifications of individuals and collective forces"; 2) "Offer a set of benchmarks for the Services to use to identify, train, and track individuals and collective forces conducting SFA"; 3) "Serve as a menu of SFA skills to help joint force commanders and planners articulate required capabilities when requesting forces".

You can read online or download the document at the link below:

Friday, February 7, 2014

SFAAT Advises OCC-R at FOB Lightning

SFAAT meets with OCC-R at FOB Lighting
(Photo by CPT John Goodwill, 3rd BCT, 10th Mountain
A Security Force Assistance Advisor Team or SFAAT is working with the Operational Coordination Center - Regional at FOB Lightning in Regional Command East to help it become more effective. The SFAAT is from the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division. The OCC-R has members from all the Afghan security forces. It is sometimes difficult to get the different branches of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) to work together. To address that problem the OCC-R conducts periodic synchronization meetings and after action reviews - the SFAAT helps in facilitating these events. One specific focus of the SFAAT is the development of an intelligence capability. Intelligence drives operations in a counterinsurgency fight. For that reason the SFAAT has an intelligence officer to advise and assist in this critical area. Read the rest of the story at "Spartans help Afghan forces forge their future", DVIDS, January 29, 2014. Learn more about Operational Coordination Centers.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

2-15 Field Artillery Wins Award for Afghan Deployment

A Battery, 2nd Battalion, 15th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division won the Henry A. Knox award. The U.S. Field Artillery School at Fort Sill, Oklahoma recognizes the best active-duty artillery battery in the Army with the award. During their nine-month deployment to Paktika province, Afghanistan in 2013 the Soldiers performed with distinction as a Security Force Assistance Advisory Team (SFAAT) and provided artillery fires in support of maneuver operations. The SFAAT Red 1 Team provided advisory assistance to Afghan National Army artillery units in the employment of the Afghan 122-mm D-30 Howitzers.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Briefing on Functionally-based Security Force Assistance

A video entitled Functionally-based Security Force Assistance (SFA) by the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). The briefing is on the ISAF shift in mission focus from combat-oriented, unit-based Security Force Assistance to functionally-based, multi-echelon Security Force Assistance. The video can be viewed at the below link:

SFA Logistics Advisor

1LT  Robert Krueger is a logistical advisor to his Afghan counterparts in Parwan province, Afghanistan. Based on Bagram Air Field he advises and assists the ANSF on their logistical and supply system. The LT is part of a Security Force Assistance Advisory Team capable of rapidly moving to a location and providing assistance to the ANSF throughout Afghanistan's Regional Command East. Part of his duties involve coaching the ANSF prior to major operations and receiving accurate reporting following an important event. Read more in "2-4 Infantry, advising and assisting in Parwan", DVIDS, January 26, 2014. (Photo by 1LT Joseph Robinson, TF Patriot, Jan 18, 2014).

Friday, January 17, 2014

Mortar Training for ANA by SFAATs

Photo by SGT Eric Provost
Members of 4th Brigade, 201st ANA Corps at FOB Gamberi in Laghman province have recently completed a month-long mortar training course provided by instructors from 2nd Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 10th Mountain Division, Task Force Patriot. The training on the M224 60-mm Mortar finished after a live fire exercise where the ANA mortarmen demonstrated their proficiency with the mortar. Elements of the training included safety, employment, gun drills, laying onto the target, misfire procedures, and other skills. Read more about the training in "Afghan mortarmen test their mettle", DVIDS, January 13, 2014.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

CAAT Security Force Assistance Bibliography

The latest version (7 Dec 13) of the COMISAF (CAAT) Security Force Assistance (SFA) Bibliography is now available. The CAAT SFA Bibliography is a comprehensive listing of websites and publications that focus on the Security Force Assistance mission now taking place in Afghanistan. The 137 page document has a wealth of information on a variety of topics related to advising in Afghanistan. Some of these topics include Mission Essential Tasks, books, AARs, manuals and regulations relating to SFA, reading lists, overview of "functionally-based Security Force Assistance", C2, leadership, combined arms integration, integrated layered security, training, sustainment, ANA, ANP, pre-deployment training, insider threat, culture, use of interpreters, building rapport, and many others. You can access the PDF document at the following link - CAAT SFA Bibliography.

Monday, January 6, 2014

SFAAT Advising in Parwan Province, Afghanistan

A Security Force Advise and Assist Team or SFAAT is now advising provincial officials and members of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) in Charikar - the capital city of Parwan province, Afghanistan. The SFAAT is from 2nd Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment of the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division. In addition, to Parwan, the SFAT also advises in Kapisa province just to the east. Learn more about the SFAAT mission in "2nd Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment adds new location to advising mission", DVIDS, December 30, 2013.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

4th Infantry 10th Mountain SFAAT Advises Afghan Counterparts

More and more SFABs and their SFAATs are deploying to Afghanistan. One of the latest SFABs is 4th Brigade 10th Mountain Division. Read more in "SFAAT Assist Counterparts", DVIDS, March 21, 2013.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Video - Hawaiian Advisory Team Helps Afghan Police in Counter-IED Techniques

A video has been released by DVIDS which features a SFAAT from the Hawaiian National Guard deployed in Afghanistan assisting the ANP in counter-IED training. The advisory team was assisting the Qalat Reserve Kandak of Zabul province. View the video, produced March 16, 2013, here.