Small Wars Journal

Preparing SFABs for the Complexity of Human Interaction

Preparing SFABs for the Complexity of Human Interaction by Brent A. Kauffman - Military Review

A recent Associated Press article highlighted the importance of cultural sensitivity and empathy in preparing the Army’s new security force assistance brigades (SFABs).1 While certainly useful and appropriate skills, SFAB-related articles typically only scratch the surface regarding the importance of understanding the human terrain while deployed abroad. Fortunately, a few research efforts provide deeper thinking and analysis to increase our understanding. Forces Command, Training and Doctrine Command, and the Army at large would be well served to make significant investments in human domain training to maximize SFAB effectiveness as they advise, train, and assist foreign forces in their own environments.

Apart from distracting stories about beret colors, SFAB articles typically emphasize a few key points. First of all, the six SFABs will provide a trained force dedicated to the advise-and-assist mission. Second, this added force structure will reportedly replace the current ad hoc approach and free up conventional forces to prepare for conventional wars. Finally, the SFAB training program will include extensive cultural and language training.2 It appears that after sixteen years of the U.S. military training, advising, and interacting with Afghans, Iraqis, and others with mixed results, the SFAB concept provides the Army with another opportunity to get it right. However, initial coverage of the SFAB suggests that the curricula are still not comprehensive enough for our forces to operate successfully in the human domain…

Read on.