The Army Is Reorganizing Its SFAB Units to Deploy Globally

5th Security Force Assistance Brigade at Camp Thanarat, Thailand.
Team Healthcare Sgt., Staff Sgt. Jordan Blas, Combat Advisor Team 5110, 1st Battalion, 5th Security Force Assistance Brigade, discusses a training engagement with the Royal Thai Army’s Lt. Col. Takham Pratya, Aug. 20, 2020 at Camp Thanarat, Thailand. (U.S. Army/ Maj. William Leasure)

The general overseeing the Army's Security Force Assistance Brigades on Tuesday outlined a plan to assign these specialized units specific geographic regions around the world, where they will operate in much smaller teams than in the past.

"This year, consistent with our National Defense Strategy, we will align them with each geographic combatant command throughout the world," Brig. Gen. Scott Jackson commander Security Force Assistance Command, told reporters at a roundtable at the Association of the United States Army's 2020 virtual meeting.

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The Army created six SFABS -- five active and one National Guard -- to serve as special advisory units to train and advise foreign partner armies so conventional combat units could focus on preparing for land warfare.

Up until now, the SFABs have focused on deployments to Afghanistan, but have been branching out to Africa and the Pacific as the Pentagon shifts its focus to larger adversaries such as China and Russia.

Going forward, the five active SFABs will be assigned a geographic region:

The National Guard SFAB will serve as a reserve to reinforce the five active SFABs where needed, Jackson said.

The days of deploying an entire SFAB for nine months will change as well, Jackson said, describing how each SFAB will rotate smaller teams, in some cases just 12-member teams, into different countries and replace them as needed.

"What that allows us to do is establish a sustained presence," Jackson said.

"Unlike in Afghanistan where we have kind of surged an entire brigade for nine months, and then had to fall back and reset the entire brigade, our future model with allow each one of the brigades ... to push forward an allocation of their brigade and continually refresh that formation forward. So what you will get is a sustained presence with our partners, and not this episodic nature that we have been doing with our Security Force Assistance Brigades in the past."

Force protection will continue to be a key focus, but Jackson said most of these deployments will not be into "an active combat zone."

"The threat is not the threat as it was in Afghanistan," Jackson said. "But along those lines, our forces continue to implement the pre-deployment training that is necessary to take care of themselves -- be it active force protection, be it counter-surveillance work, be it enhanced medical training.

"We are obviously not going into this thinking everything is going to be fine, and we are taking the appropriate measures."

-- Matthew Cox can be reached at

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