Modular brigades augmented for security force assistance

1. Purpose: To provide an overview and information on the Advise and Assist Brigades/Modular Brigades Augmented for Security Force Assistance.

2. Facts:

a. Advise and Assist Brigades/Modular Brigades Augmented for Security Force Assistance (AABs/MBs-SFA) refer to brigades selected to conduct security force assistance. They are also called BCT-stability (BCT-S) or SFA brigades (SFABs). This is not a new formation, but a variant of the standard BCT augmented with additional forces, personnel or capabilities such as engineers, military police, and civil affairs experts to enable it to focus on SFA. The concept of AABs/MBs-SFA reflects a shift in how the army approaches SFA.

b. Army doctrine defines SFA as the unified action taken to generate, employ, and sustain local, host-nation, or regional security forces in support of a legitimate authority. 1 The training and assistance of foreign military forces used to be the mission of Army Special Operations Forces (SOF). The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan highlighted the need for large-scale training and assistance to Iraqi and Afghan conventional forces beyond the capacity of SOF. Therefore, the modular BCT has been modified to take on the task.

c. The 4th BCT of the 1st armored division formed the first AAB and deployed to Iraq in the spring of 2009 to provide proof of principle for the advisory brigade concept. Seven AABs were in Iraq during Operation New Dawn (OND) when the mission was changed from combat to SFA, and helped to enhance the quality and capacity of host nation security forces. There are currently 47, 000 US troops in Afghanistan focusing mainly on training, advising and mentoring Afghan National Security Forces, preparing and setting the stage for the exit of coalition forces in 2014. Most recently, International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan placed emphasis on functional SFA or functionally-based SFA in the following areas: command and control, leadership, combat arms integration, training and sustainment, shifting from unit level advising to functional area advising. 2

d. There are five SFA tasks: organize, train, equip, rebuild and build, and advise and assist. The three types of SFA include advising, partnering, and augmenting. 1

e. The mission of AABs/MBs-SFA is to train, equip, advise, assist and enable professional security forces to take the lead and to protect civilian efforts in the host nation. This is different from the traditional war fighting that soldiers are trained to do. It necessitates a change of culture, way of thinking and mindset. The modular brigade augmented for security force assistance handbook provides a useful reference and guidance to assist the BCT in effectively manning, equipping and training the force for conducting SFA. 3 It is imperative that AABs/MBs-SFA are trained in host nation culture, language, and an understanding of Foreign Security Force (FSF) systems, operations, and procedures.

f. In Iraq and Afghanistan, the modular BCT has been the right organizational structure to form the core of SFA when augmented with senior level advisory capability. The advisor teams and partnered units are under a singular BCT commander, ensuring unity of effort and purpose. It can train and mentor large host nation formations and at the same time, is capable of conducting full spectrum operations to protect and sustain itself in hostile environment. However, SFA in the future may well be in a different security environment. For example, SFA missions in Phase 0 (Shape) are conducted in permissive environments and requirements tend to be much less manpower intensive than that in phase IV (stabilize) as in Iraq and Afghanistan.

g. There has been increasing emphasis on the importance of SFA since 2001. The question is whether to reform or to transform the army to achieve the goal. One faction argues that the Army must remain generalists and that the way to approach SFA is to ensure that Army units are capable of full-spectrum operations. The other school of thought argues that the Army needs to establish separate units, or advisory corps, outside of existing organizations, which are specially organized, trained and equipped to conduct SFA. 4, 5 The Army’s position is that AABs/MBs-SFA are the least risky and most cost effective solution to conducting SFA missions.