Army announces deployment for new “green” beret wearing soldiers to Afghanistan

Soldiers with the 5th Battalion, 101st Aviation Regiment, 101st Combat Aviation Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) transporting troops from the 1st Security Forces Assistance Brigade December 6, 2017 at Fort Polk, Louisiana as part of Task Force Eagle Assault. The Soldiers supported the SFABs training rotation at the Join Readiness Training Center. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Marcus Floyd, 101st Combat Aviation Brigade)

The Army announced today a spring 2018 deployment of the 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade (SFAB), stationed at Fort Benning, Georgia, to provide training and advising assistance to Afghan National Security Forces.

“Security force assistance brigades are specialized units whose core mission is to conduct advise-and-assist operations with allied and partner nations,” said Gen. Mark A. Milley, chief of staff of the Army. “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.”

SFABs are permanent, additive force structure that are being developed and deployed as a solution to an enduring Army requirement in support of the defense strategy. The Army will field six SFABs: Five in the Regular Army and one in the Army National Guard.

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

The unit’s insignia and beret are very similar to that of Army Special Forces soldiers, some of whom expressed their disdain for the Army’s decision.  In October, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said the Army never had any intention of ripping off Special Forces iconography.

“I don’t want all of this drama about berets and patches to take away from their mission,” Milley told the Army Times. “I don’t like it when any elite force looks down their nose at anyone. Everybody has a unique role in the machine.”

Milley, a Green Beret himself, said the SFAB mission is to train military forces on a large scale, something Special Forces has never been capable of.  He also ensured their berets are not the same color, stating they are more of an olive-brown than they are green.

“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 advisors, 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 advisors’ 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.”

Commanders and leaders of SFABs have previously commanded and led similar brigade combat team units at the same echelon. Primary enlisted advisors hold the rank of sergeant and above. The Army is starting to formalize policies and regulations that will help SFAB soldiers with promotion rates and boards, selection boards, and special pay.

Popular Military contributed to this article

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