Military Advisor Training Academy
Security Force Assistance Brigade (SFAB)
The Department of the Army announced 20 February 2017 the creation of a new type of organization designed to focus on security force assistance, as well as an academy that will train soldiers assigned to these specialized units. These new Security Force Assistance Brigade (SFAB) will have no junior enlisted Soldiers.
SFABs will be designed on the infantry and armored brigade combat team (BCT) model and consist of approximately 500 senior officers and noncommissioned officers who will have the proven expertise to train and advise foreign security forces from small units up through ministerial levels. SFABs will be designed based on two variants -- Infantry and Armored Brigade Combat Teams.
The U.S. Army Maneuver Center of Excellence remains the premier institutional Army proponent to develop and execute a Military Advisor Training Academy (MATA), nested with U.S. Army Combined Arms Center as the designated Security Force Assistance and Irregular Warfare Modernization Proponent.
The first of six planned units known as Security Force Assistance Brigade (SFAB), as well as the Military Advisor Training Academy, will be established at Fort Benning, Georgia, starting in October 2017. The Army's Training and Doctrine Command will oversee the proponency for these brigades and the academy.
The SFABs are the Army's first permanent units whose core mission is conducting security cooperation activities, allowing quick response to combatant commander requirements. The SFABs have an added capability of serving as the framework of a brigade combat team that could rapidly expand if needed to meet future requirements, according to Lt. Gen. Joseph Anderson, Army chief of operations.
"The SFABs can serve a dual purpose," said Anderson. "They are the day-to-day experts combatant commanders need to train, advise and assist our partners overseas, but they can serve also as a standing chain of command for rapidly expanding the Army." The new units are designed to enhance the readiness of the Army by reducing demand for existing BCTs to conduct security force assistance operations, thereby preserving BCT readiness for full spectrum contingency operations.
The Army will also create a Military Advisor Training Academy at Fort Benning to properly train and resource SFABs with the skills and expertise needed to conduct advise and assist functions, as well as develop or refine policies and procedures. The academy will provide the foundational training for all six SFABs planned to be created across the total Army. As the Army's proponent for brigade-level security force assistance, the Maneuver Center of Excellence will oversee the academy.
"SFABs will benefit the Army by providing trained and accessible resources for support to missions such as foreign internal defense, stabilization operations, security force assistance and counterinsurgency operations," said Anderson.
The effects that the SFABs will bring to the Army will actually be three-fold, according to Col. Brian Ellis, maneuver division chief in the directorate of force management, G-3/5/7 at the Pentagon, who led planning for the new brigades. "First, the Army will more effectively advise and assist foreign security forces," he said.
"The second is to preserve the readiness of our brigade combat teams by reducing the need to break apart those formations to conduct security assistance missions." This will preserve BCT readiness for full-spectrum operations.
The third role of the SFAB is to help the Army more quickly regenerate brigade combat teams when needed. If the Army needs another BCT, for example, junior Soldiers would fall in on an existing SFAB, which is already full of senior NCOs and officers. Having a pre-built command structure in place would significantly speed up the process of generating new brigades, Ellis said.
Each brigade will have a cavalry squadron and two maneuver battalions, either infantry or armor. Each company will have three teams of four trainers and a company headquarters. And even the headquarters will serve as a training team.
The first SFAB unit will be permanently stationed at Fort Benning. The second one, which is planned to stand up in the fall of 2018, will be a National Guard brigade, Ellis said. The third SFAB will be in the regular Army, and it is planned to begin training in the fall of 2018, though permanent stationing and resourcing decisions haven't been made yet past the first brigade. As of early 2017, the Army had three BCTs deployed for advise and assist missions, Ellis said. It may be a few years before the new SFABs will be able to handle all of that demand.
The Army is developing additional SFABs across the Total Army (Regular Army, Army National Guard and Army Reserves) at sites to be determined through fiscal year 2024.
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