Small Wars Journal

Army Builds Advisor Brigades: Counterinsurgency Is Here To Stay

Army Builds Advisor Brigades: Counterinsurgency Is Here To Stay by Sydney J. Freedberg Jr., Breaking Defense

After a decade of debate, the US Army is finally creating permanent units dedicated to advising foreign forces. The six new Security Force Assistance Brigades will be a marked departure from the ad hoc training teams used throughout the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. They would also be well suited to build up local allies to take down the Islamic State, which the Trump Administration has made its top priority.

The advisor brigade initiative predates Trump, however: Gen. Mark Milley floated the idea publicly in 2015, in his first months as Army Chief of Staff. But the Army’s had a lot to think about, from the war in Ukraine to wargames in Pacific. That Milley would still push this plan through, and that the service would allocate about 3,000 of its most experienced troops to the six advisor brigades, suggests the service really is serious about learning the lessons of 15 years of guerrilla warfare - even as the Army reorients towards conventional warfare against nation-states such as Russia.

That said, the advisor units have a secondary mission for major wars, as Milley has made clear from the start. To make the org chart for Security Force Assistance Brigade, you basically take a regular infantry or tank brigade and strip away all the junior troops. What’s left of the 4,000-strong combat brigade is 500 of the most senior officers and sergeants, the people with the experience to train a foreign military and the rank to command respect…

Read on.


Bill C.

Sat, 02/18/2017 - 10:51am

Part I: The Pre-Trump Understanding:


The United States is unlikely to repeat another Iraq or Afghanistan -- that is, forced regime change followed by nation-building under fire -- anytime soon.


Copy that.

However, note that the above does not suggest that:

a. "Nation-building" is no longer needed or required. That:

b. The basis for "nation-building" (the "weak and/or failed states = significant national security threat" thesis) is no longer valid. Or that:

c. Such things as vastly increased "security force assistance" and "phase zero operations" -- both undertaken in "nation-building's" name -- should or would cease to exist.

Rather, as former SECDEF Gates' appears to emphasize throughout the rest of his speech above: (a) Our "nation-building" efforts would continue to expand and move forward. This, (b) given the believed continued validity of the "weak and/or failed states = exceptional national security threat" thesis. And, thus, (c) likewise to continue to expand and move forward will be such approaches as "security force assistance" and "phase zero operations -- both undertaken in "nation-building's" name.

(Thus, and accordingly, to see the six new Security Force Assistance Brigades and the SFAB "schoolhouse" opening at Fort Benning?)

So, generally speaking, the only thing that former SECDEF Gates suggested would change would be that "nation-building," etc., would now be achieved in a more preemptive manner; this, rather than "under fire."

Part II: What about President Trump -- who has said that he will abandon "nation-building?"

If President Trump and/or the national leaders of certain of our allies -- as per their own ideas or at the behest of significant segments of their respective populations -- have determined and stated clearly (as our President Trump has) that they wish to and will abandon "nation-building,"

Then will not such things as our Security Force Assistance Brigades and "Phase Zero Operations" -- and their "Preemptive National Security Strategy" premise -- likewise be abandoned?

This, given that each and every one of these (security force assistance brigades, phase zero operations, preemptive national security strategy premise) find their basis in the "weak and failed states problem = nation-building solution" thesis outlined above?