Small Wars Journal

With 1st SFAB Deployed, Army Looks to Build More Adviser Brigades

With 1st SFAB Deployed, Army Looks to Build More Adviser Brigades by Corey Dickstein - Stars & Stripes

WASHINGTON — Building on what was merely a concept at the beginning of 2017, the Army hopes to boast five brigades of conventional soldiers hand-selected and specially trained to advise indigenous partner forces by the end of next year. Army officials say the service is seeking to quickly build its Security Force Assistance Brigades, units designed to shoulder the bulk of the Pentagon’s train, advise and assist missions throughout the world. That is why the Army is seeking funding to build three SFABs — it has begun assembling two — in fiscal year 2019, according to the service’s budget request sent last month to Congress.

The Army’s goal is to build six SFABs, five in the active-duty Army and one in the National Guard. The service is considering building two division headquarters to manage the brigades, Army officials said. “My view right now is that with regard to irregular warfare, we’re going to be engaged in that indefinitely,” Army Secretary Mark Esper told Stars and Stripes in an interview last month. “There will always be a need to help build allied or partnered forces, so [the SFABs] can take on that mission. Which is far better than us doing it with our combat brigades’ soldiers.”

The Army for decades has worked to train partner forces to fight. In recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army has often pulled apart its traditional combat brigades to build small training-and-advising units for that mission. The problem, Esper said, is that has meant those brigades were not focused on their primary charge — training to fight…

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