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Security Force
Assistance Brigade (SFAB)
(2012-2013 Afghanistan)

Editorial Note: In 2012-2013 the U.S. Army deployed a number of SFABs to Afghanistan. These units were Brigade Combat Teams (BCTs) that were given the mission of 'Train, Advise, and Assist' with the Afghan security forces. The SFABs deployed during this time period were an adhoc arrangment. Upon return to the United States they resumed their original mission. In September 2017 the U.S. Army established the 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade (SFAB) - a permanent organization with the primary mission of 'Train, Advise, and Assist'. The information below pertains to the adhoc SFABs deployed to Afghanistan in the 2012-2013 period.

The Army fielded  a number of mission-tailored brigades configured to accomplish the Security Force Assistance (SFA) mission in Afghanistan. These brigade formations were called Security Force Assistance Brigades or SFABs. They were formed ad hoc from existing Brigade Combat Teams or BCTs.  As of winter 2012 two of these brigades had deployed to Regional Command East - the 1/101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) from Fort Campbell and the 4/1st Cavalry Division from Fort Hood. The 4/1 CD was the first SFAB to deploy followed shortly after by 1/101st Abn Div. 1. Each brigade had less than 2,000 personnel - which is significantly less than the usual 3,500 Soldiers found in a BCT.

SFAB Purpose. The purpose of the SFABs was to conduct Security Force Assistance through the organic Security Force Assistance Advisor Teams or SFAATs that came from within the SFAB structure.

Total Number of SFABs to Deploy. Eventually, by the spring of 2013 there were as many as eight SFABs deployed in Afghanistan - most in the east and south of the country.

Mission of SFABs.  The SFABs had an advisory, assist and support role in relation to the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) and a very diminished combat role. The SFABs provided enabling support to the ANSF in the form of intelligence, base support, logistical, force protection, close air support, MEDEVAC, and other support to the SFAATs that will be advising the ANSF.

SFA Principles. In early 2012 General John Allen, COMISAF, released a memorandum entitled "15 Principles of SFA". These principles provided sound advice on the SFA advisor mindset. See Principles of SFA.

SFAB Training. The BCTs conducting the SFA mission in Afghanistan attended pre-deployment training at one of the Combined Training Centers (NTC, JMRC, or JRTC). Part of this training was a mission readiness exercise to test the brigades advisory skills. 2.

Functional SFA. SFABs deployed to Afghanistan tailored the selection and training of their advisor teams to the Functional SFA model that ISAF adopted for 2014 and beyond.

SFAB Critical Tasks. There are several critical SFAB tasks that are aligned with Articles listed in FM 7-15, Change 9, Army Universal Task List.

ART 2.2 Support to Situational Understanding

ART 2.3 Perform Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance

ART 3.1 Integrate Fires

ART 3.2 Provide Fire Support

ART 3.3 Integrate Air Ground Operations

ART 5.1.3 Execute Tactical Operations

ART 5.3 Conduct Knowledge Management and Information Management

ART 6.12.3 Conduct Improvised Explosive Device Operations

ART 5.4.1 Provide Interface or Liaison Among Military and Civilian Organizations

Future Advisory Brigades Needed. The success of the AAB concept in Iraq and SFAB concept in Afghanistan provided many with the belief that the Army needs a full-time advise and assist brigade to accomplish the specialized Security Force Assistance (SFA) and Foreign Internal Defense (FID) missions.

News Articles about SFABs

January 14, 2016. "Learning From Our Mistakes in Selection and Training of Military Advisors." SOFREP. Establishment of an 'SFAB' or 'AAB' like unit could assist in professionalizing the train, advise, and assist mission.

July 24, 2014. "Brave Rifles: here to help". DVIDS. 3rd Cavalry Regiment is replacing 3rd BCT, 10th Mountain Division in Regional Command East in the Security Force Assistance mission.

January 31, 2014. "Fort Polk to keep 162nd SFAB for 2014". Leesville Daily Leader. The Army has decided to keep the 162nd Brigade intact for 2014. One would think that is a no-brainer given that the only wartime mission we have right now is Security Force Assistance in Afghanistan. Evidently there were some plans to do away with the SFAB at the beginning of 2014. The 162nd trains up the SFAATs deploying to Afghanistan.

January 30, 2014. "Strike cases colors for sixth time since 9/11". Fort Campbell Courier. 2nd BCT 101st Airborne Division is returning to Afghanistan. Their last deployment there was in 2012 when they provided a number of SFAATs. On this deployment they will form an SFAB and provide SFAATs.

December 27, 2013. "Currahee year in review". DVIDS. The 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division recently completed their 9 month tour of duty in the Regional Command East area of Afghanistan. 4-101 deployed as an SFAB with a number of SFAATs. The news article describes in brief the train up and employment of SFAB 4-101.

July 31, 2013. "Slugger arrives in Kunar". DVIDS. 3-89 Cav (Task Force Slugger) has arrived in Kunar province, Afghanistan as part of the 4-10th Mountain SFAB.

July 27, 2013. "1st Cavalry's 4th Brigade closes out its Afghanistan deployment", Killeen Daily Herald. The "Long Knife" Brigade, deployed as an SFAB, returns home after a 9-month long deployment to the North of Kabul area HQ'd at FOB Gamberi.

July 23, 2013. "After 9 months in Afghanistan,Long Knife soldiers ready to come home". DVIDS. 4th BCT, 1st Cavalry Division from Fort Hood will soon depart Afghanistan after performing its mission as an SFAB in northeastern Afghanistan. COL William Benson (BCT Cdr) and MAJ Mark Andres (DCO) provide a positive view on the ANA 201st Corps.

April 8, 2013. "Chairman of Joint Chiefs visits Commando Brigade in Afghanistan". Regional Command East. 2-10 SFAB hosts General Dempsey.

Bibliography for Resolute Support

Afghan War News has compiled a "Resolute Support Annotated Bibliography" for the use of ISAF staff and SFA advisors participating in the NATO mission in Afghanistan. It is an Adobe Acrobat PDF, over 200 pages long, and less than 3 MBs big. Easy to read online or download and it is available at the link below:

Videos about SFABs in Afghanistan

April 11, 2013. 2-10 SFAB in Afghanistan. Video (with music) depicts photos of 2-10 SFAB (Commandos from 10th Mountain) during early stages of their deployment to Afghanistan.



1. See "Back in the saddle again", Regional Command East, November 28, 2012. Cites 4/1 CD as the first BCT to deploy to Afghanistan as an SFAB. Blog post accessed here. (Blog no longer online).

2. See "Final Afghanistan-bound Stryker Brigade Trains for Deployment", American Forces Press Service, March 13, 2013 for details on the MRE that the SFABs conduct during pre-deployment training here. (Link no longer working).

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