National Guard's New SFAB Will Be Spread Across Six States

Spc. Stephen Powers, right, a communications adviser with Combat Adviser Team 1131, uses the Afghan National Tracking System to show his counterparts where Afghan soldiers are located during a clearing operation near Kabul, Afghanistan, on Sept. 16, 2018. (U.S. Army photo by Sean Kimmons)
Spc. Stephen Powers, right, a communications adviser with Combat Adviser Team 1131, uses the Afghan National Tracking System to show his counterparts where Afghan soldiers are located during a clearing operation near Kabul, Afghanistan, on Sept. 16, 2018. (U.S. Army photo by Sean Kimmons)

The National Guard has begun standing up its new Security Force Assistance Brigade, with battalions in six states, a move that will finalize the Army's push to create a permanent force of combat advisers.

The establishment of the "54th SFAB" -- an unofficial name pending Army approval -- will join the service's five active-duty SFAB brigades, designed to be responsible for advise-and-assist training of conventional combat units in friendly nations.

The National Guard SFAB battalions will be located in Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Texas, according to Lt. Col. Wes Parmer, a spokesman for the Army National Guard.

"They are manning these units now," he told Military.com, adding that the effort began in early September.

The states the battalions will be located in are listed at www.nationalguard.com/sfab, a webpage on the Guard's recruiting website.

The new brigade has been referred to as the 54th SFAB, but that is part of a "pre-decisional discussion" based on a concept from the Army's Center of Military History, Parmer said.

"That is not the approved name," he said, adding that it is "still being staffed for approval by Army senior leaders."

The SFAB's headquarters battalion will be located at Stout Field Armory in Indianapolis.

Other locations include:

  • 1st Battalion, Infantry, will be based at Columbus Armory in Columbus, Georgia.
  • 2nd Battalion, Infantry, will be based at Pinellas Park (City) in Pinellas Park, Florida.
  • 3rd Battalion, Cavalry, will be based at Gainesville Training Site in Gainesville, Florida.
  • 4th Battalion, Field Artillery, will be located at Dallas Red Bird Readiness Center in Dallas, Texas.
  • 5th Battalion, Brigade Engineer Battalion, will be located at Columbus Defense Supply Center in Columbus, Ohio.
  • 6th Battalion, Brigade Support Battalion, will be located at Rock Island Arsenal in Rock Island, Illinois.

"Those selected for assignment to an SFAB will receive special training, including language and cultural training, as well as special weapons training at the Army's Special Warfare Center at Fort Bragg, N.C.," according to the nationalguard.com SFAB webpage. "Ultimately, soldiers assigned to an SFAB will deploy on missions worldwide."

The Army is in the process of standing up four of its five active SFABs. The 2nd SFAB, which is close to being ready to deploy, is based at Fort Bragg.

The 3rd SFAB will be stationed at Fort Hood, Texas; the 4th SFAB will stand up at Fort Carson, Colorado; and the 5th SFAB will be based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington.

The Army's 1st SFAB, which is based at Fort Benning, Georgia, is deployed in Afghanistan and has taken losses in two insider attacks.

Command Sgt. Maj. Timothy Bolyard, 42, the 1st Squadron, 38th Cavalry Regiment, was killed in early September when a member of the Afghan National Police opened fire on him and another soldier, Newsweek reported.

Cpl. Joseph Maciel, a 20-year-old infantryman, was killed in July in Tarin Kowt district, Uruzgan province, in an apparent insider attack.

Individuals selected for SFABs are all experienced soldiers who go through a specialized training program to prepare them for these deployments, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said recently.

"These soldiers are all volunteers, he said. "They are very, very high-quality individuals. They go through a vetting process, so roughly speaking, about 56 to 60 percent are being selected for this outfit. They are meeting the physical fitness standards of the [75th] Ranger Regiment, and there is a whole other selection-quality criteria that we put on these folks."

Currently, the deployment focus for SFABs will remain in the Central Command region, "but we think the United States Army ... will be in an advice-and-assist role for years and decades to come, Milley said.

-- Matthew Cox can be reached at matthew.cox@military.com.

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