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    A Co, 353rd Inf Reg preps 2nd SFAB leaders for deployment

    A Co, 353rd Inf Reg preps 2nd SFAB leaders for deployment

    Photo By Chuck Cannon | Staff Sgt. Nawid Abraham (standing), an instructor with Alpha Company, 353rd Infantry...... read more read more



    Story by Chuck Cannon 

    Fort Polk Public Affairs Office

    FORT POLK, La. — When the Army established the Security Force Assistance Brigade concept it was determined that the Soldiers comprising the brigades receive the best training possible. SFABs are specialized units with their core mission to conduct training, advising, assisting, enabling and accompanying operations with allied partner nations.
    To that end, when the 2nd Security Force Assistance Brigade was informed its members would deploy to Afghanistan in the spring of 2019, where better to send its Soldiers for training than the Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk? There, Alpha Company, 3rd Battalion, 353rd Infantry Regiment, Joint Readiness Training Operations Group, could provide theater-specific training not found anywhere else.
    Capt. Miguel Moyeno, A Co commander, said the training is important to the Soldiers of the 2nd SFAB because it takes them from training collectively on different tasks to focusing on where they are actually going with answers to the problems they will face.
    “Not a lot of (Army) training gets that specific, but for what the 2nd SFAB needs to know going into theater, this is the training that points them in the right direction,” he said.
    The 2nd SFAB leadership — senior NCOs and officers — trained with the 353rd Dec. 3-7 at Tiger Hall in Fort Polk’s Tigerland. There is special emphasis on the training, as the 2nd SFAB will have to hit the ground running.
    “They are going to have their hands full,” Moyeno said. “They are scheduled to go into theater sometime this spring, and as soon as they arrive they have to advise their counterparts on the Afghanistan presidential election. There’s not going to be much transition, so (training) will not only prepare them for their specific mission, but also for all the problems and upcoming issues they’ll face as soon as they get in theater.”
    First Sgt. Matthew Carter, A Co first sergeant, said another advantage 2nd SFAB has in the training provided at the JRTC is immediacy.
    “Through our liaison officer (LNO) we have on the ground in Afghanistan, we can answer any specific questions they might have immediately,” he said. “We’ll write down their question, contact the LNO, get an answer, and then provide the answer.”
    Moyeno said the 2nd SFAB leaders will take what they learn back to their Soldiers at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and then return to the JRTC for rotation 19-03 Jan. 3. While at JRTC, the 2nd SFAB will be augmented by members of the 353rd when they deploy later in the spring.
    “We’re sending 10 of our linguists with the 2nd SFAB when they rotate to theater as interpreters,” Moyeno said. “It would be similar to an OCT (observer/controller/trainer) telling a rotational unit that he would be accompanying them on a deployment. The interpreter plays a huge role.”
    An added bonus to leader training is the trust that develops between trainers and trainees.
    “The good thing about having the senior leaders here is that we’re building legitimacy with them,” Carter said. “When they return for their rotation, they will have told the other members of the team we are subject matter experts and know what we’re talking about.”
    Maj. Jacob Jeffers, Security Force Assistance course director, said the instructors’ goal is to get 2nd SFAB Soldiers more familiar with their advisory role in Afghanistan.
    “We’ll focus on logistics; most of the people who are successful over there have a handle on the logistics arena because it’s something you can measure,” Jeffers said. “We’ll also have some guys coming in from 1st SFAB who will give them an idea of what goes on from day to day. We have some of the best instructors in the Army, straight out of Afghanistan, and we rotate our guys in and out of Afghanistan and Iraq to make sure they remain relevant.”
    One of the 1st SFAB members to provide input for the 2nd SFAB Soldiers was Lt. Col. Nathan Williams, who shared insight into what the 2nd SFAB could expect.
    “The SFAB concept is relatively new, less than 18 months old, originally brought up by the Chief of Staff of the Army, so we’re a new operating force that just deployed and returned,” he said. “We’re the first of six SFAB brigades. Because we were the first to use this new concept, it’s important for us to help the overall SFAB enterprise by coming back here to teach the lessons that we gained in Afghanistan during the past nine months.”
    Williams said that not only could 1st SFAB Soldiers provide lessons learned in Afghanistan, but they could also help 2nd SFAB Soldiers work through the problems the 1st SFAB encountered while standing up as a new Army operation concept.
    “Our whole purpose in Afghanistan was to try to coach back down to the lowest level,” Williams said. “In 2014 we pulled away from coaching at the battalion level in Afghanistan; last year we expanded that back to the battalion level. We sent advisors out on partnered missions with the Afghanistan forces at a much lower level than we have done in the previous five years.”
    Williams said many of the lessons they’re bringing back pertain to getting out and doing patrolling again with Afghan partners instead of just staying at FOBs (forward operating bases).
    “So you’re looking at identifying what enemy threats are out there, trying to figure out how best to understand what our Afghan partners are doing and communicate that back through our channels so we can support them better, and help coach them in ways they can be more effective,” he said. “That sounds a little vague and easy, but it’s pretty difficult. It’s really those one-on-one relationships that we’re trying to pass on.”
    Williams said another point 1st SFAB members shared with the 2nd SFAB is the uncertain environment in Afghanistan — not only the enemy they will face out in sector, but the potential issues that exist within the Afghan National Army itself, such as insider threats. Also, the importance of providing “bottom up” feedback to coalition partners, the Afghan National Army and Ministry of Defense.
    “In a huge enterprise it’s often hard to understand what the challenges are to Soldiers at the lowest level,” he said. “Being out there at that lowest level allows us to provide that feedback.”
    Staff Sgt. Nawid Abraham, a native Afghan linguist with the 353rd Inf Reg’s 52nd Translator/Interpreter Company (TICO), provided culture training for the 2nd SFAB leaders.
    “Our instructors are mostly native, from Afghanistan,” he said. “Our goal is to make sure 2nd SFAB Soldiers are familiarized with the Afghan culture, at least with the basics, before they go to the country: What to expect, how to behave, what to do to build rapport and build that relationship with their counterparts in Afghanistan.”
    Abraham said instructors focus on fundamental dos and don’ts, things like not crossing your legs, how to shake hands with a male, how to interact with a female, and all sorts of necessary information the 2nd SFAB Soldiers might need.
    “It is extremely important for them to know this,” he said. “Some of them have deployed and know a little bit about the culture, but not the class as a whole.
    “We encourage the female Soldiers to take the lead when the team deals with a female. We also teach the males to interact with females without violating the culture.”
    Capt. Jacques Roulette, 2nd SFAB, said the training was beneficial.
    “It gives us background knowledge on the culture we’re going to be embracing during this deployment, and makes us a little more sensitive and receptive to some things we may encounter that we were previously unaware of,” he said.
    “The instructors here are very professional and knowledgeable about their areas of expertise.”
    Moyeno said his company provides an important job for the Army.
    “Culture training, framework on how the Army and the police force work together, understanding their logistics system and an overview of advise and assist missions,” Moyeno said. “It’s a huge collective effort to get them, as advisors, to focus on the specific areas where they are deployed, advising missions they are going to be doing, people they are going to be working with, everything.”
    For Moyeno and his team of trainers, it’s just another day at the office.
    “This is how we prepare Soldiers for the fight,” he said.



    Date Taken: 12.14.2018
    Date Posted: 12.14.2018 12:03
    Story ID: 303648
    Location: FORT POLK, LA, US 

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