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Army to Deploy 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade to Afghanistan

Soldiers assigned to 5th Battalion, 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade fire .50 caliber machine guns at a firing range Nov. 2, 2017, at Fort Benning, Ga. (U.S. Army/Sgt. Arjenis Nunez)
Soldiers assigned to 5th Battalion, 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade fire .50 caliber machine guns at a firing range Nov. 2, 2017, at Fort Benning, Ga. (U.S. Army/Sgt. Arjenis Nunez)

The U.S. Army announced Thursday that the 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade will deploy to Afghanistan this spring to train and advise Afghan Security Forces.

The 1st SFAB, based at Fort Benning, Georgia, is one of five SFABs the Army intends to stand up in the active force. The service also plans to create one of these specialty brigades in the National Guard.

The service has chosen Fort Bragg, North Carolina, as the home of the 2nd SFAB.

"Security force assistance brigades are specialized units whose core mission is to conduct advise-and-assist operations with allied and partner nations," Gen. Mark A. Milley, chief of staff of the Army, said in a Jan. 11 press release.

"These units will help us achieve the national security objectives by, with, and through allied and partnered indigenous security forces for the next 25-50 years."

The brigades are the service's first permanent units whose core mission is conducting security cooperation activities, allowing quick response to combatant commander requirements, Army officials said.

Until now, the service has deployed regular combat units to train, advise and assist security forces in Iraq, Afghanistan and other partner nations, a practice that has put a strain on readiness, officials maintain.

"SFABs are made up mostly of volunteers, who are then specially trained in a range of skills to provide combat advising at the tactical level," said Gen. John W. Nicholson Jr., commander of Resolute Support forces and U.S. forces in Afghanistan. "They will enable us to help the Afghans with their operations simultaneously in multiple corps."

Soldiers applying to SFABs are screened based on qualifications and experience, and their units receive the best, most advanced military equipment available, the release states.

SFAB soldiers receive special training through the Military Assistance Training Academy, which includes language instruction, foreign weapons and advanced medical training.

"Our team is honored to make history as the Army's first purpose-built SFAB to deploy in support of our national security objectives; as combat advisers, we stand ready to train, advise, assist, accompany and enable our Afghan National Security Forces partners to secure peace in Afghanistan," said Col. Scott Jackson, commander of the 1st SFAB.

"I am proud of our advisers' hard work to build and train this unit, and I am confident in their skills and ability to get the job done. I couldn't ask for a better team to fight alongside," he said.

The announcement came a day after the Army tapped two armored brigades and two headquarters elements for upcoming deployments to South Korea, Europe and the Middle East.

-- Matthew Cox can be reached at matthew.cox@military.com.

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