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    Operating in the Gray

    Operating in the Gray

    Photo By Staff Sgt. Jennifer Milnes | 1st Sgt. Shane Carvella, assigned to Team 1510, Alpha Company, 5th Battalion, 1st...... read more read more



    Story by Staff Sgt. Jennifer Milnes 

    105th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

    HOHENFELS, Germany – Six teams of U.S. Army engineer advisors assigned to Alpha and Bravo Companies of 5th Battalion, 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade joined Exercise Allied Spirit X in Hohenfels, Germany, March 30 - April 17, 2019. It was an opportunity for the teams to conduct specialized training and enhance interoperability through tactical communication on the battlefield by coordinating among several nations each day.

    Alpha Co. 1st Sgt. Shane Carvella, assigned to Team 1510, said one of the primary focuses for his team at Allied Spirit X was integrating with the multinational forces to plan and execute engineer obstacles on the battlefield such as emplacing minefields and ditches in order to improve upon existing tactics.

    “We find the inoperable and make it operable,” said Carvella.

    The 1st SFAB is comprised of 58 conventional Combat Advisor Teams to train, advise, assist, accompany, and enable partner security forces from the battalion to corps level while continually reducing the amount of senior leaders pulled from Brigade Combat Teams. By utilizing SFAB teams, BCTs are better able to focus on their readiness and training for warfighting against near-peer threats, according to the 1st SFAB public affairs office.

    Previously, Military Transition Teams, Embedded Training Teams, and Advise-and-Assist Teams consisted of senior level leaders from BCTs to train and deploy them, essentially taking them from their jobs for more than a year at a time.

    “One of the advantages that we have over previous teams is that we’re not taking combat power away from the BCTs,” said Capt. Ronald Garee, the officer-in-charge of Team 1512. “Training and deploying is our job. We’re not just advisors for a deployment; we’re advisors for three years, which may include one or two deployments.”

    Now, training and advising at home and abroad is the responsibility of the SFAB, and when they’re not deployed they’re maintaining their own skills while advising and enhancing the training of other military teams around the world.

    Throughout the exercise the teams are not only building partnerships by integrating themselves with other nations, but are working side by side to improve readiness. Garee explained that as his team is working with their partner nation for the exercise by making recommendations to them, they are also working on their own skill sets. With approximately 26 engineer advisory tasks to be proficient in before their next deployment, Allied Spirit is helping them master those tasks within a multinational training environment.

    “We’re advising them a little bit and certainly training with them, but they’re also training us,” Garee said. “The more we do this, the better we become as advisors.”

    Comprised entirely of senior leadership, the teams use their own unique skills, experiences and personalities to enhance their capabilities when training, advising, assisting, and enabling foreign security forces.

    “With the four people on our team, it’s rare that we’re all together for more than a few weeks at a time because someone is doing some training that’s adding value to our team,” stated Garee.

    While traditional units deploy and operate according to plainly prescribed U.S. doctrine, the SFAB’s mission isn’t always so black and white. Their purpose isn’t to simply advise other nations on how to employ U.S. Army doctrine, but rather, to learn the host countries’ doctrine and determine if incorporating elements of U.S. methods might be useful. Since each nation and situation is different, there really is no roadmap for this task, which forces the SFAB to learn how to effectively operate “in the gray.”

    “During the deployment to Afghanistan last year it definitely opened a lot of eyes to people on working in the gray,” said Carvella. “There’s not always a (U.S.) Army way to do things.”

    Working in the gray means pushing his team to becoming more comfortable thinking outside the box to accomplish their missions, according to Carvella, which can sometimes be an additional, but welcomed task.

    “When you remove them from their comfort zones, people don’t know how to act and it makes them nervous,” Carvella continued. “That’s where we work the best. We like it uncomfortable; we enjoy the challenge.”



    Date Taken: 04.14.2019
    Date Posted: 06.06.2019 12:02
    Story ID: 324423
    Location: HOHENFELS, BY, DE 
    Hometown: FORT BENNING, GA, US

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