LAGHMAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan, — The 2nd Security Force Assistance Brigade (SFAB) deployed from Fort Bragg, to Afghanistan for a nine -month tour beginning in February 2019.
The brigade headquarters assumed command of Train, Advise, Assist Command-East March 24, while the rest of the brigade will conduct advising missions throughout the country. Soldiers from 2nd SFAB went through a rigorous training cycle before this deployment and are using the skills learned to advise their Afghan counterparts overseas.
The SFAB uses small 12-Soldier teams to train, advise, assist and enable their Afghan counterparts. This requires the SFAB advisors, which are all noncommissioned officers (NCOs) and officers, to have a great understanding of all aspects of their mission as well as the jobs of others on the team.
“Being a medic, I did foot checks, I did sick call and all of the standard stuff a medic does,” said Sgt. Brandon Barry, Combat Medic, 1st Company, 1st Battalion, 2nd SFAB. In the SFAB you’re tasked with so much more than that,” said Sgt. Brandon Barry, a Combat Medic with 1st Company, 1st Battalion, 2nd SFAB. “In the SFAB there’s no such thing as ‘not my job’. Everyone fights.”
Barry is on his first deployment to Afghanistan with the 2nd SFAB and has done a brigade rotation to Korea.
“Being in the SFAB you have that advising piece,” Barry said. “You don’t just have to know your job, you have to be able to teach your job. This adds a whole new echelon to being an NCO because before I would be teaching other medics. Here you may not be teaching other medics, you might be teaching the commo guy in a different language how to patch a wound.”
Barry said, being in the 2nd SFAB has pushed his abilities as a sergeant to new heights with a broader understanding of mission planning during his deployment with the 2nd SFAB in Afghanistan.
In order to effectively train, advise, assist and enable foreign security forces, they all went through training to be advisors in the SFAB and even more regionally specific training prior to this deployment.
“We attended a month long course at Fort Benning that was designed for advising,” said Sgt. Hunter Roberts, supply specialist, 1st Bn., 2nd SFAB. “We participated in key leader engagements to learn how to use an interpreter and how advising is properly conducted.”
Advisors learn other roles outside of their specialty due to the small-team aspect of their mission, Roberts said.
The brigade went through a rotation at the Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC) at Fort Polk, Louisiana, in January before deploying overseas. The training at JRTC was geared specifically to their mission and prepared the teams for what was ahead.
“The big thing about JRTC that was different is that when you go with a regular unit, you stay up for three days straight, and you’re not feeling very good for a few weeks,” Barry said. “You go to JRTC with the SFAB and every day you’re doing a new mission plan. As a medic with the SFAB you have to come up with the entire plan. You have to come up with the medical evacuation plan, who your aid and litter are, plan the evacuation platforms, things that would normally be attached to an infantry NCO in an IBCT.”
Everyone on the team takes part in the planning process and execution of their missions in Afghanistan, Barry said.
The 2nd SFAB will continue to use the skills they trained on before and during their deployment to advise their Afghan National Army and Afghan Police counterparts with the goal to help create a stable security force in the country.
“The teams have trained hard and were specifically selected for this mission,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Kenneth Killingsworth, command sergeant major of the 2nd SFAB. “They are the best at their jobs and the Soldiers in the advisor teams will make this mission a success.”