FORT POLK — Combat advising team Soldiers with the 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade advised role players acting as Afghan National Defense Security Forces on actions to seize a government building taken over by oppositional forces during a simulated mission at the Joint Readiness Training Center in Fort Polk Jan. 13.
The 1st SFAB Soldiers, headquartered in Fort Benning, Georgia, will deploy for the first time to provide training and advising assistance to Afghan National Defense Security Forces in the spring of 2018.
The unit is the Army’s new permanent, additive force structure developed and deployed as a solution to the Army’s enduring advise and assist requirement in support of the defense strategy.
The situational training exercise in Fort Polk is part of a month-long rotation to polish their skills as teams working together to accomplish theater objectives by training, advising, assisting, accompanying and enabling allied and partnered indigenous security forces before their deployment.
“I think this is a great experience because (this is) a new team, new people; we have to learn how to overcome with what we have,” said Capt. Justin Alexander, a team leader with a combat advisor team, 1st Battalion, 1st SFAB.
Soldiers encountered simulated unforeseen scenarios along the way to test their situational awareness and work with a partner to solve problems.
The 1st Bn, 1st SFAB Soldiers encountered a group of local villagers along their route who claimed the U.S. forces had attacked their livestock. The villagers demanded compensation before they would make way for the Soldiers to pass.
It was the job of the 1st SFAB to assist their Afghan National Army partner to effectively negotiate a solution to appease the villagers before ANA partners could move forward with their mission of advising those partners on their final objective.
Different than typical JRTC rotations in the Army, Soldiers were expected to take on an advisory role for the Afghan National Army to be able to resolve situations rather than take a hands-on approach.
A normal JRTC rotation, Alexander said, has a set mission while the 1st SFAB learns their mission as they go through the exercise.
“ANA were in front; ANA were leading,” said Capt. Cody McBroom, a team leader for a combat advisor team, 1st Bn, 1st SFAB. “ANA did everything. As far as tactics, the basics of the infantry — shoot, move and communicate — (the ANA) did it all. It was all on them.”
McBroom said the exercises at JRTC helped the 1st SFAB Soldiers come together and work as a team through learning strengths and deficiencies as they conducted the missions.
“It allows us to see where our deficiencies are on understanding the battalion roles and functions,” McBroom said.
“I think it will make everyone more well-rounded.”