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US Army to send its first new SFAB advisory unit to Afghanistan in mid-2018

14 January 2018
The US Army's Nett Warrior display is a chest-mounted commercial Android smartphone in a ruggedised wrapper with in-house software. New SFAB units are expected to take them to Afghanistan. Source: US Army/CERDEC

In mid-2018 the US Army plans to deploy the 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade (SFAB) to provide training and advising to Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF), the army announced on 11 January.

The SFAB is a newly formalised brigade concept, based on the sort of ad hoc advisory and assistance units the army has used in previous counter-insurgency missions, such as in Iraq.

Two SFAB’s have now been activated out of a planned six. The 1st SFAB that will deploy to Afghanistan is based at Fort Benning in Georgia. A second is based at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. Five are expected to reside in the regular army and one in the Army National Guard, Jane’s understands.

The army said the SFABs are to receive “the best, most advanced military equipment available”.

Major Matthew Fontaine, a spokesperson for the 1st SFAB, told Jane’s on 12 January that his unit “is fielding and using advanced equipment across our operations including communications systems, tactical medical care, and more”. Specifically, this includes the Harris AN/PRC 152A Falcon III Wideband Networking Handheld Radio; the Nett Warrior, a dismounted situational awareness system that connects an Android-type smartphone to a radio for data sharing; and new the Sig Sauer M17 Modular Handgun System (MHS) sidearm.

SFABs “consist of approximately 800 senior and non-commissioned officers who have proven expertise in training and advising foreign security forces”, the army said. Commanders “will have previously commanded and led similar [brigade combat team] BCT units at the same echelon” and enlisted advisors will rank sergeant or higher, it added. Unit training includes courses at the Military Advisor Training Academy for language, foreign weapons, and a ‘joint fires observer’ course.

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