Members from an Army Mobile Recruiting Team hosted two briefings daily on Tuesday and Wednesday at Howze Auditorium to introduce Fort Hood Soldiers to the Army’s new Security Force Assistance Brigades.
Security Force Assistance Brigades are specialized units whose core mission is to conduct training, advising, assisting, enabling and accompanying operations with allied and partner nations. Though highly trained and considered among the Army’s top tactical leaders, SFAB Soldiers are not Special Forces.
Lt. Col. Andy Kiser, commander, 1st Battalion, 3rd SFAB, said the new brigades are about service instead of what the Army can offer the individual Soldier.
Soldiers in the 1st SFAB are already making gains overseas.
“They’re making a difference in the fight,” Kiser said.
III Corps and Fort Hood Commanding General Lt. Gen. Paul E. Funk II recently noted the contributions he has seen from 1st SFAB in Iraq.
“Working by, with and through our partners, the coalition is defeating ISIS in Iraq and Syria,” Funk said. “This approach to defeating the enemy and establishing security and stability is proving remarkably successful; SFABs are a unique opportunity for our Soldiers to use this same construct with partner forces around the world.”
Not everyone is a good fit for the SFAB.
Soldiers in the SFAB have to know what the Army does and have to be tactically and technically proficient in their military occupational specialty because their focus will be on performing their MOS, Command Sgt. Maj. Raymond Harris, senior enlisted advisor for 3rd SFAB, said.
“This is an opportunity for them to do their job,” Sgt. Maj. Joseph Tinker, operations sergeant major, 2nd SFAB, added.
The SFABs improve the readiness of the force as a whole, Tinker added.
Before the SFABs were created, senior leaders were frequently pulled from the brigade combat teams to perform the train, advise and assist missions. SFABs fill that gap and keep BCTs intact.
“Now, as we build the (SFAB) teams, we are no longer breaking up the BCTs,” Tinker said.
The Secretary of the Army approved the SFABs in 2016 to provide units focused on security force assistance. The SFABs remain the No. 1 priority for Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley.
Currently, the Army has two SFABs, and is building the third, with plans for a total of five active-duty SFABs and one in the National Guard.
The Army is looking to fill about 817 slots on the SFABs, but the need will grow as more SFABs stand up.
The first two SFABs are located at Fort Benning, Georgia, and Fort Bragg, North Carolina, respectively, while the location of the third is yet to be announced.
Each SFAB will have about 800 personnel and will work within the Central Command area of operations, Tinker said. In theater, SFABs focus on the training, advising and assisting of conventional foreign military forces.
At Fort Hood, the recruiting team discussed eligibility and the process to volunteer for the brigades, the assessment and the incentives offered to Soldiers in approximately 70 MOSs, from infantry to medics, intelligence analysts to field artillery.
Eligible Soldiers, from promotable specialists and senior, can receive a $5,000 assignment bonus, choice of duty station following 24-36 months in the SFAB and waivers for military education schools among other incentives.
1st Sgt. Joshua Scallion, a field artillery senior sergeant with Company C, 2nd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, is interested in joining an SFAB, but not because of the incentives.
“It’s more about the work,” he said. “The incentives don’t appeal to me as much. I like the training opportunities.”
Military training and leadership skills Soldiers receive in the SFAB is among the best in the Army, and enhances the force as a whole.
“The amount of training only makes them better Soldiers when they leave the SFAB,” Tinker said.
Scallion said the SFAB sounds similar to work he did in 2008-2009, training Afghan field artillery troops to use Soviet artillery.
“It was very rewarding and a lot of fun,” Scallion said, noting that he did not have previous experience with the Soviet weapons, but he and his team were able to assist and train the Afghan troops.
“I would teach them to tactically employ it,” he explained.
Spc. Joseph Yopp, a fueler assigned to Headquarters Support Company, III Corps, also is interested in the SFABs because of the work.
As a promotable specialist, Yopp is at the most junior rank to join an SFAB. Selection to the SFAB and satisfactorily completing the 48-hour assessment would guarantee his promotion to sergeant, but he is more interested in what he could do in the SFAB.
“Incentives are always nice, but the real reason I am interested would be to get to do my job,” Yopp said.
He also likes the idea of working with a small team and directly assisting others is appealing to him.
“I’d feel I am serving a bigger purpose,” Yopp said.
Harris said that is what the SFAB is about.
“It’s about the Army, not self,” he said. “We are looking for Soldiers who are committed to the Army.”