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    SFAAT 3 encourages teamwork by improving the ANSF common operating picture

    AFGHANISTAN - In a small tactical operations center within the regional operational command center just off of Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, representatives from all of the Afghan National Security Forces and Regional Command-South’s Security Forces Advise and Assist Team 3 gather weekly for a synchronization meeting called a battle update brief.

    SFAAT 3, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Inf. Division, works with and advises all of the ANSF pillars, namely the Afghan National Army, National Police, Border Police, and the National Directorate of Security, at the Operational Coordination Center Regional-South. Their goal is to assist the Afghans in working together, and sharing information and assets to unify them in a common mission of keeping Afghanistan and its citizens safe.

    “An adviser is kind of like a teacher. We tactfully advise them to create a solution for themselves, and not just provide that solution for them,” said Maj. Robert Heffner, a native of Hampton, Virginia, who serves as the OCCR-S operations officer in charge of SFAAT 3. “We sell our ideas as theirs, providing them tools to draw from, but letting them do it in their way. It has to be Afghan led and Afghan sustainable.”

    Being an effective adviser requires patience and an ability to observe things from a distance. Instant gratification from concerted efforts, most likely won’t be met. Advisers have to be open minded to various cultures and foreign thought processes, and give notice to the small victories, explained Capt. Victor Beitelman, a native of Colorado Springs, Colorado, who serves as a communications adviser with SFAAT 3.

    “It’s a very long process you’re not going to win right away,” Beitelman said. “You can’t judge things by U.S. standards. Everything is set to an Afghan pace here. You have to realize that just because a solution they come up with is different, doesn’t mean that it’s wrong.”

    Beitelman has been advising the Afghans at the OCCR-S since March 2014. One of many efforts that SFAAT 3 has spearheaded is providing an operational picture for all of the ANSF pillars to reference; this is something they all can use when looking at the battle space, ensuring all the various entities of the ANSF know and understand what’s going on in RC-South in real time.

    “What we’re looking at here is our ability to reach out across any portion of ANSF defense,” Beitelman said. “The quickest way to reach out to all pillars is to help them gain a common operating picture, because knowing what’s going on in RC-South is one of the most important things at the coordination center.”

    “So, we put together a series of programs where they could use a map-reading software program similar to Google Maps, which has the ability to track all types of significant acts. Which allows them to easily plot them by simply typing in a grid, and it automatically plots it on the map,” Beitelman said.

    Beitelman explained that this kind of reporting, if pushed through the appropriate channels, will allow all pillars of the ANSF to see what’s going on, because it can easily be shared amongst all services.

    “The best part is that the file size is small enough that it can be sent across their high-frequency digital networks, and through tactical and strategic communication everyone inside RC-South can have access to it,” Beitelman said.

    Heffner said the ANSF can also plot reports on an overlay and give it to intelligence agencies, which agencies can then analyze the battlefield data from the reports and come up with conclusions from the information gathered by the ANSF.

    Heffner further explained that the map viewing software also helps them to draw on available assets.

    “So if there is someone wounded on the battlefield they will be able to see if the Kandahar Air Wing has assets available for a medevac, or if the Army has a vehicle in the area that can casevac the wounded. It encourages cross-pillar coordination of assets,” he said.

    As things wind down for SFAAT 3, Beitelman explained he is hopeful the advisers coming in will continue to place importance on the programs they’ve set in motion, especially the mapping software.

    “A lot more senior advising has to continue to nudge this, because if it doesn’t, it will just go away,” Beitelman said. “We’ve given them the best option at the lowest cost. It’s highly effective and easy to use. It can be replicated across all of the pillars, and across any of the different networks.”

    Heffner said if the ANSF doesn’t implement the mapping program, they will at least have another tool in their bag to tackle problems on the battlefield in the future. If they get frustrated because something isn’t working, they can fall back on the tools SFAAT 3 gave them.

    “They may neglect this for months, and eventually come back to it…. Again, it has to be their idea. It has to be Afghan led, and Afghan sustainable.”



    Date Taken: 09.19.2014
    Date Posted: 09.19.2014 09:00
    Story ID: 142688
    Location: AF
    Hometown: FORT CARSON, CO, US
    Hometown: FORT HOOD, TX, US
    Hometown: HAMPTON, VA, US

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