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Papers on
Security Force Assistance (SFA)


DoDIG, Summary of Lessons Learned - DoD IG Assessment Oversight of "Train, Advise, Assist, and Equip" Operations by U.S. and Coalition Forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, Inspector General U.S. Department of Defense, Report No. DODIG-2015-093, March 31, 2015.


Doherty, Thomas. "Letting Them Scrape a Knee: Advising for Third Order Effects". Small Wars Journal. A Special Forces officer describes advising pitfall in Afghanistan.

McShea, Thomas and Kyle Harnnitchek. "Passing it On: Two SFAAT Teams in Afghanistan and Lessons Learned for Future Advisors", Small Wars Journal, October 27, 2014.

CALL, "Army Security Cooperation", CALL Newsletter No. 14-14, July 2014. Center for Army Lessons Learned.

Brown, Frances Z., Rethinking Afghan Local Governance Aid After Transition, United States Institute of Peace (USIP), July 30, 2014.

Armstrong, Nicholas J., The Prospects of Institutional Transfer: A Within-Case Study of NATO Advisor Influence Across the Afghan Security Ministries and National Security Forces, 2009-2012, Doctoral Dissertation for Syracuse University, May 2014.

RAND, Assessing Security Cooperation as a Preventive Tool, report tests the assertion that U.S. security cooperation (SC) can help reduce fragility in partner states.


Butler, Colonel William J., Security Force Assistance: What Right Looks Like,  U.S. Army War College, Class of 2013. The author cites the example of SFA and the Romanian Army as a good practice for SFA and partnership-building.

Simmering, LTC Michael J. "The Limitations of Security Force Assistance and the Capabilities of the U.S. Army", Small Wars Journal, August 13, 2013. . . .

Moerbe, Captain Wesley, US Army, "Early Mistakes with Security Forces Advisory Teams in Afghanistan", Military Review, May-June 2013.

Nelson, Anna Rikki. Just Good Advice: The American Advisors in the Vietnam War, Thesis submitted to the University of Southern Mississippi, July 2013.

DoD Inspector General, Assessment of U.S. Efforts to Develop the Afghan National Security Forces Command, Control, and Coordination Sytem", March 22, 2013. Observations on OCCs, ANA C2, logistics, C2 systems, air support to ANSF, and removal of negative ANA and ANP officers.

Payne, Leslie Adrienne & Jan Osburg. Leveraging Observations of Security Force Assistance in Afghanistan for Global Operations, RAND Research Report prepared for the United States Army, 2013 based on research and interviews during January to April 2013. This report will be of interest to those involved in designing SFA policy and doctrine and those advising SFA operations in the field.


G. Damon Wells. Conducting Security Force Assistance in a Rural District: Understanding the Operational Environment, December 2012. Paper by a SFAAT team member who worked with Afghan Uniformed Pollice (AUP), Afghan Local Police (ALP) and District Chief of Police (DCop) in 2012. The paper can be accessed here on Small Wars Journal.

Captain Colby K. Krug. When Combat Advising = Company Command. Paper by a SFAAT team leader describing the mission of advising an ANA kandak. October 2012. The paper can be accessed here.

Nadia Gerespacher. Preparing Advisors for Capacity-Building Missions. United States Institute for Peace (USIP), Special Report 312, August 2012.

Major Evgeniy Ivanov, Ph. D. Bulgarian Army. Showcasing a New Concept: Unified NATO Security Force Assistance. NATO/OTAN, April 2012. Accessed on the NATO website here.

COL John S. Prairie, The Appropriate Army Organization to Conduct Security Force Assistance, U.S. Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, PA, 2012.


Morgan Smiley. "Combat Advisor Unit for Afghanistan Transition". Small Wars Journal, December 15, 2011. Accessed here.

Barno, David, Andrew Exum and Matthew Irvine. The Next Fight: Time for a Change of Mission in Afghanistan. Center for a New American Security, December 5, 2011. Accessed here. The authors state that it is time to move to a new mission of Security Force Assistance.

GAO. Actions Needed to Enhance the Ability of Army Brigades to Support the Advising Mission. August 2011. Accessed here.

COL Gary A. Rosenberg, Security Force Assistance and the Brigade Combat Team: Recommendations for the Way Ahead, Marshall Center for Security Studies, Germany, June 10, 2011.

COL Julian Dale Alford and MAJ Daniel Zappa. Afghan Advise and Assist Group. Small Wars Journal, June 1, 2011. Accessed here.

BG Edward Donnelly and LTC Robert Maginnis, “Preparing Soldiers to Help Foreign Partners Meet 21st Century Challenges”, Military Review, May-June 2011.

Thomas K. Livingston. Building the Capacity of Partner States Through Security Force Assistance. Congressional Research Service (CRS), May 5, 2011. Accessed here.

Center for Army Lessons Learned (CALL) Newsletter 11-18, March 2011, Security Force Assistance, Shaping and Mentoring Afghan Police, accessed on CALL website at

Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute, Doctrinal Framework - The Doctrinal Nesting of Joint and U.S. Army Terminology, White Paper, U.S. Army War College, March 10, 2011. This paper describes the combined U.S. Army and Joint framework to ensure a common basis for discussion.

Jeffrey L. Meeker. Large Scale Security Force Assistance: A Measured Approach. Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, PA, February 17, 2011.

Kelley, Terrence, Nora Bensahel, and Olga Oliker. Security Force Assistance in Afghanistan: Identifying Lessons for Future Efforts. RAND Corporation, 2011.

Colonel Scott W. Power. Security Force Assistance: An Enduring U.S. Army Structure. U.S. Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, PA, March 11, 2011. Accessed here.

COL Marc D. Axelberg. Enhancing Security Force Assistance: Advisor Selection, Training and Employment, US Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, PA: 2011.

LTC Joshua J. Potter. American Advisors: Security Force Assistance Model in the Long War. Combat Studies Institute Press, Combined Arms Center, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, 2011. Accessed here in 2012. The author served as a Senior Advisor to an Iraqi division commander while assigned to an Advise and Assist Brigade (AAB).

USMC, (U) Partnering, Mentoring and Advising in Operation Enduring Freedom, Marine Corps Center for Lessons Learned, 6 October 2011, (FOUO).


MAJ David H. Park. "Identifying the Center of Gravity of Afghan Mentoring", Military Review (November-December 2010), pages 43-50.

Colonel Robert D. Morschauser, The Brigade Combat Team – Stability and Security Force Assistance Operations, U.S. Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, PA, 2010.

MAJ Brennan Cook, Improving Security Force Assistance Capability in the Army’s Advise and Assist Brigade, SAMS, USACGSC, Fort Leavenworth, KS, 2010.

Gates, Robert M., U.S. Secretary of Defense. "Helping Others Defend Themselves", Foreign Affairs, May/June 2010. Gates presents the case for a more robust security assistance structure.

Colonel Ronald Metternich. Security Force Assistance: Organization for the Long War. U.S. Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, PA, March 2010.

Sean R. Pirone, Security Force Assistance: Strategic, Advisory, and Partner Nation Considerations, Naval Post Graduate School, Monterey, CA, December 2010.


Haug, Jan E. The Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team Program as a Model for Assisting the Development of an Effective Afghan National Army, Army Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, KS. June 12, 2009.

Bluesteen, Christopher. "Combat Advising: Three Challenges We Must Overcome to Succeed in Afghanistan", Small Wars Journal, 2009.

Taylor, William C., MAJ. The US Army and Security Force Assistance: Assessing the Need for an Institutionalized Advisory Capability, CGSC, Fort Leavenworth, KS, 12 December 2009. The US Army had difficulty initiating and conducting advisory operations in Operation Iraqi Freedom due to the lack of an institutionalized advisory capability. “The need to create an advisory capability after the requirement developed, resulted in a three-year delay in Iraqi Security Force development, which threatened mission success in Iraq. This experience shows that the US Army should consider developing an institutionalized advisory capability” (text in quotes from paper abstract).

SSI, A Comprehensive Approach to Improving U.S. Security Force Assistance Efforts, Bainski, LTC Theresa et al, Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College, 2009.

Haynes, Jeff. Reforming the Afghan National Army (ANA), Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI), November 2009.

Zbylut, Metcalf, et al. The Human Dimension of Advising: An Analysis of Interpersonal, Linguistic, Cultural and Advisory Aspects of the Advisor Role, U.S. Army Research Center, June 2009.

Scott G. Wuestner. Building Partner Capacity / Security Force Assistance: A New Structural Program. Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College (Carlisle, PA, February 2009). Accessed here on the Australian AF website.

Phelps, Major Christopher E., Selecting and Training U.S. Advisors: Interpersonal Skills and the Advisor-Counterpart Relationship, MA Thesis for University of Kansas, April 24, 2009

Richard Hetherington, Foreign Military Advisor Proficiency: The Need for Screening, Selection and Qualification, Fort Leavenworth, KS: 2009. Accessed here on DTIC.

MAJ William C. Taylor, Jr., Developing an Institutionalized Advisory Capability, SAMS, USACGSC, Fort Leavenworth, KS, AY 2009.

CALL, Commander’s Guide to Money as a Weapons System: Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures, Handbook No. 09-27, April 2009. Center for Army Lessons Learned.

Maxwell, David, "Considerations for Organizing and Preparing for Security Force Assistance Operations", Small Wars Journal, March 28, 2008.


CRS, Does the Army need a Full-Spectrum Force or Specialized Units? Background and Issues for Congress, Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service, January 18, 2008. RL34333.

Michael J. Metrinko, The American Military Advisor: Dealing with Senior Foreign Officials in the Islamic World, August 2008. Access on PKSOI website.

Maxwell, COL David. "Consideration for Organizing and Preparing for Security Force Assistance Operations", Small Wars Journal, March 28, 2008.

MAJ Michael R. Binetti, Institutionalizing Security Force Assistance, SAMS, Fort Leavenworth, KS, AY 2008.

MAJ Thomas R. Matelski, Developing Security Force Assistance: Lessons from Foreign Internal Defense. SAMS, Fort Leavenworth, KS, AY 2008. Accessed here.

MAJ Jeffery N. James, Understanding Contemporary Foreign Internal Defense and Military Advisement: Not Just a Semantic Exercise, SAMS, USACGSC, Fort Leavenworth, KS, AY 2008.

MAJ Joseph E. Escandon. The Future of Security Force Assistance: Is the Modular Brigade Combat Team the Right Organization? CGSC, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, 2008. Which is better? The BCT or a permanent Advisor Corps?


Bolger, Daniel P., “So You Want to Be an Advisor”, Military Review, March-April 2006. Available online at

Brian G. Cillessen, Captain USMC, Marine Advisor: Can the Marine Corps Prepare Them Better?, February 6, 2006. Comtemporary Issues Paper, EWS 2006.


Kilcullen, Colonel David, Australian Army, "28 Articles". March 2006.


Occasional Paper 18, Advising Indigenous Forces: American Advisors in Korea, Vietnam, and El Salvador, Robert D. Ramsey III. Fort Leavenworth, Kansas: Combat Studies Institute (CSI) Press, 2006. Available online at


Occasional Paper 19, Advice for Advisors: Suggestions and Observations from Lawrence to the Present, Robert D. Ramsey III. Fort Leavenworth, Kansas: Combat Studies Institute (CSI) Press, 2006. Available online at


U.S. Army Special Warfare School, The Advisor and His Counterpart in Vietnam, Handout 306, November 29, 1968.

Security Force Assistance Bibliography

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SFA  Bibliography

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