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Security Force Assistance Team Training at JRTC

February 25, 2012

By Sgt. Jonathan W. Thomas

FORT POLK, La. -- The Security Force Assistance Team will become a key component in enhancing the strength and capabilities of the Afghan National Security Forces, but that depends on building successful SFAT units.

The 15th Security Force Assistance Team, 191st Infantry Brigade, 1st Army Division West, conducted a live-fire convoy, at the Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk, La., Feb. 20, in preparation for their upcoming deployment to Afghanistan.

"When we go down-range our mission will be to enable the Afghan police force to take the lead and do the police work that will facilitate the security for local villagers in their district," said Lt. Col. Carlos Schroder, commander of the 15th SFAT, 191st Inf. Brig., 1st Army Division West.

SFAT units are a 12-person team composed of highly trained officers and non-commissioned officers, who will assist and mentor the ANSF as they conduct security operations.

"A lot of [SFAT] members have been on multiple deployments and our past experiences will help us train the [Afghan police force] and further develop the tactics they have in place already," said Staff Sgt. Kenneth Bourque, an Mk 19 gunner with the 15th SFAT, 191st Inf. Brig., 1st Army Division West.

Adding to their experiences the 15th SFAT conducted training which included; Key Leader Engagements, live-fire target transitioning, convoy operations, casualty care under fire and casualty evacuation.

"For me as a [Staff Sergeant], although I haven't had a chance to [fire] in a long time, it was fun and it was a good refresher on exactly where I came from and what I need to be mentoring others on," said Staff Sgt. Jacob Fizer an M240 Bravo machine-gunner with the 15th SFAT, 191st Inf. Brig., 1st Army Division West. "A good person laying a good support by fire can change the course of the battle so I understand the importance of that."

Soldiers from the 15th SFAT are trained on their combat skills to ensure the safety of their team and are specifically tailored to mentor their Afghan counterparts.

"We did a combined live-fire, we worked with our rotary assets and also did some indirect fire support while performing a key leader engagement and we even had some direct contact and [improvised explosive devices] on the way," said Schroder "We worked our battle drills and as a result the training went extremely well, I'm very pleased with the progress the teams have made."

SFAT Units are rigorously trained to defend themselves, but their primary role is to train and mentor the ANSF and understanding that role may be key to a successful mission down-range.

"My interpretation on what an SFAT [unit] is: we're the gateway on pulling out of Afghanistan, we're there to advise the afghans and enable their police forces to stand on their own, to have good relations with the local population so that when we leave they have a nice secure foundation to build a future from," said Fizer.

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