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Army: 6 New Security Force Assistance Brigades

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#1
The title pretty much says it all but more here. I thought SFA kinda fell under the core SF mission of FID? Is this good to free up SF to do more/ different things, or will this be bungled like most seem to think how Big Army handles things like this? What do those who've BTDT think?
 

Diamondback 2/2

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#2
Unless they are going to be NCO only brigades...No its a terrible idea, Pvt Snuffy has zero cultural awareness, understanding, or give a fuck to fulfill that mission. And yes I speak from experience as I was a young E4 who didn't get it. Spending your days teaching haji, to say cuss words and take video of "welcome to 7/11 would you like a slurpy" does zero good for developing an host nations army.

$.02
 

104TN

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#3
Unless they are going to be NCO only brigades...No its a terrible idea, Pvt Snuffy has zero cultural awareness, understanding, or give a fuck to fulfill that mission. And yes I speak from experience as I was a young E4 who didn't get it. Spending your days teaching haji, to say cuss words and take video of "welcome to 7/11 would you like a slurpy" does zero good for developing an host nations army.

$.02
There was a link hidden in Dienekes' post, but the SFABs will be comprised of NCOs SSG and above and officers CPT and above.

The idea is that if needed, the Army could have a cohort of junior soldiers fall in on the experienced cadre organic to the SFABs and have a BCT stood-up faster than building one from scratch (and at a lower cost than keeping an idle BCT fully staffed).
 

Totentanz

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#5
There was a link hidden in Dienekes' post, but the SFABs will be comprised of NCOs SSG and above and officers CPT and above.

The idea is that if needed, the Army could have a cohort of junior soldiers fall in on the experienced cadre organic to the SFABs and have a BCT stood-up faster than building one from scratch (and at a lower cost than keeping an idle BCT fully staffed).
If that's the execution and it actually plays out like that, good. With a drawn-down force, the big question is what will happen if/when it needs to re-expand. It may not be the perfect plan, and in true government fashion I'm sure there will be shortcomings, but it's far better than the 2007-2009 "open the flood gates and hope it all works out". Having an expansion plan is, IMO, a good thing.

The one major question I have to ask... as @AWP noted, this is something of a construct of the current conflict. Are we playing into the blunder of preparing for the last war rather than the next one?
 

Ocoka

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#6
Unless they are going to be NCO only brigades...No its a terrible idea, Pvt Snuffy has zero cultural awareness, understanding, or give a fuck to fulfill that mission. And yes I speak from experience as I was a young E4 who didn't get it. Spending your days teaching haji, to say cuss words and take video of "welcome to 7/11 would you like a slurpy" does zero good for developing an host nations army.

$.02
Disagree somewhat with your view (although probably a moot point anyway since E's won't be involved in SFAB)...but take volunteer Es and NCOs with high GCT and combat arms course scores and teach them properly and much can be achieved. I use the Marine's Combined Action Program as an example of success, where junior NCOs and Es conducted FID/COIN/CA along with intense small-unit combat operations.

But granted, without proper training, (and even with training) your "average" Pvt Snuffy would be in over his head.
 
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Il Duce

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#7
Disagree somewhat with your view (although probably a moot point anyway since E's won't be involved in SFAB)...but take volunteer Es and NCOs with high GCT and combat arms course scores and teach them properly and much can be achieved. I use the Marine's Combined Action Program as an example of success, where junior NCOs and Es conducted FID/COIN/CA along with intense small-unit combat operations.

But granted, without proper training, (and even with training) your "average" Pvt Snuffy would be in over his head.
From what I've seen of these in train-up and execution, unless things have changed substantially, the senior NCOs and Officers will also be in over their head. The Army has done an unbelievably shitty job - IMO - of building the necessary doctrine, training, and resource requirements to build a meaningful advise/assist capability. These SFABs have done a poor job of building capacity in foreign militaries in our efforts in IZ and AF so I'm not sure what has changed to make them effective in this iteration.

In my mind, there are two major shortcomings - irrespective of the make-up of the units:

1. Strategically, what is the kind of force we're trying to build? The model we've used in IZ and AF is to build a shittier version of our own forces - then excuse how terrible they are (always at the end, never the beginning) by saying it's 'Afghan good-enough' or some other bullshit. We're an expeditionary force that puts primacy on technology, firepower, and a professional NCO corps to ensure we're agile, flexible, adaptable, and lethal down to the very small-unit level. That's an incredibly expensive long-term project that requires generational training and professionalism. None of the countries we're going to has the time, money, or institutions to draw-on to build that force. Yet, we still take our model and put it over the top - Napoleonic staff, centralized basic training, national force, primacy on small-unit leadership, mission command, firepower, and technology-dependent mobility. We ignore the baseline reality of these countries - they need militaries for internal security and defense. Their strengths are local knowledge and ties, familial relationships, a tough citizenry used to privation. History is replete (even our own) with other models on building Armies with those traits - the regimental model, the militia/regular model. But of course, we don't use those because what the fuck do any of our Soldiers/leaders know about training that shit?

2. Doctrinally we have difficulty building curriculum to train our own methods - much less a model we want for someone else. Maneuver is probably more solid but speaking for my own warfighting function - intelligence - we have nothing to look to IOT understand how to evaluate training. Does a force that's deployed to the same area for 10 years really need to understand IPB in an expeditionary manner? Why do we need to teach them to evaluate an environment they've worked/lived in for most of their lives? If they don't have any of the classified collection or dissemination systems we do why are we spending time teaching them the methods we use that are primarily driven/constrained by those factors? Wouldn't we want to focus on HUMINT collection, tactical questioning/screening, interrogation, BDA, CoIST, and the things low-tech Armies generally excel at? If we do, nobody is telling that to anyone in Army MI. There's no manual you can open to learn how/what to teach to non-cleared partners, help set up their schools, or evaluate their training. We can teach them to generate powerpoint though - after we've bought them computers, software, and generators to power the computers of course (and possibly how to read) - we're shit hot at that.
 
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#8
Yet, we still take our model and put it over the top
We ignore the baseline reality of these countries
According to this, the military methods seem to follow our methods in democratization and lots of other stuff. I wonder is it general ignorance or is it hubris? Can nothing else work if it does not have the American stamp of approval or is it our cultural biases that prevent us from looking out further into the world to find solutions? Are we just inept at implementing practical solutions or are the real solutions counter to the US interests that our leaders actually work toward? Not to change the topic of the thread nor do they require answer but these are just some of the thoughts that I had reading your post. It seems we have failed to learn from the same failures for the past couple decades.
 

Ocoka

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#9
From what I've seen of these in train-up and execution, unless things have changed substantially, the senior NCOs and Officers will also be in over their head. The Army has done an unbelievably shitty job - IMO - of building the necessary doctrine, training, and resource requirements to build a meaningful advise/assist capability. These SFABs have done a poor job of building capacity in foreign militaries in our efforts in IZ and AF so I'm not sure what has changed to make them effective in this iteration.

In my mind, there are two major shortcomings - irrespective of the make-up of the units:

1. Strategically, what is the kind of force we're trying to build? The model we've used in IZ and AF is to build a shittier version of our own forces - then excuse how terrible they are (always at the end, never the beginning) by saying it's 'Afghan good-enough' or some other bullshit. We're an expeditionary force that puts primacy on technology, firepower, and a professional NCO corps to ensure we're agile, flexible, adaptable, and lethal down to the very small-unit level. That's an incredibly expensive long-term project that requires generational training and professionalism. None of the countries we're going to has the time, money, or institutions to draw-on to build that force. Yet, we still take our model and put it over the top - Napoleonic staff, centralized basic training, national force, primacy on small-unit leadership, mission command, firepower, and technology-dependent mobility. We ignore the baseline reality of these countries - they need militaries for internal security and defense. Their strengths are local knowledge and ties, familial relationships, a tough citizenry used to privation. History is replete (even our own) with other models on building Armies with those traits - the regimental model, the militia/regular model. But of course, we don't use those because what the fuck do any of our Soldiers/leaders know about training that shit?

2. Doctrinally we have difficulty building curriculum to train our own methods - much less a model we want for someone else. Maneuver is probably more solid but speaking for my own warfighting function - intelligence - we have nothing to look to IOT understand how to evaluate training. Does a force that's deployed to the same area for 10 years really need to understand IPB in an expeditionary manner? Why do we need to teach them to evaluate an environment they've worked/lived in for most of their lives? If they don't have any of the classified collection or dissemination systems we do why are we spending time teaching them the methods we use that are primarily driven/constrained by those factors? Wouldn't we want to focus on HUMINT collection, tactical questioning/screening, interrogation, BDA, CoIST, and the things low-tech Armies generally excel at? If we do, nobody is telling that to anyone in Army MI. There's no manual you can open to learn how/what to teach to non-cleared partners, help set up their schools, or evaluate their training. We can teach them to generate powerpoint though - after we've bought them computers, software, and generators to power the computers of course (and possibly how to read) - we're shit hot at that.

I'm reminded of Lawrence who argued against trying to train irregular tribal warriors in the manner of the British Army. It wouldn't have worked anyway. They were too independent and individualistic to submit to that kind of discipline.

The Combined Action Groups tried to exploit the strengths of our local militia counterparts, as did Special Forces with their tribal and CIDG forces. Yes, we supplied weapons and various resources, but we let them show us the trails, the best ambush sites, let their knowledge of local politics and village relationships guide us in our operational planning. It wasn't perfect and was often frustrating but it wasn't our goal to turn them into American soldiers. They'd been fighting far longer than any of us. Big Army didn't get it then. SF was a sideshow to Westmoreland and he looked upon Marine Combined Action units as an experiment that had no real business in his conventional perception of warfare.
 
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ThunderHorse

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#10
The idea is that if needed, the Army could have a cohort of junior soldiers fall in on the experienced cadre organic to the SFABs and have a BCT stood-up faster than building one from scratch (and at a lower cost than keeping an idle BCT fully staffed).
One of the Strategists in the 5 Shop back in the day, and I say that because both of us have since left, talked about how the Army made philosophical decisions that he just didn't agree with. It prioritized readiness over force structure. And although he would think this is an awesome idea, we need a lot more of them, not specifically on the SFAB mission, but being caretaker units that can expand in times of war and then keeping a certain amount of BDEs at a T1. I don't think the Army is changing it's philosophy, but always thought the training mission fell more in line with SF and previous individual augments to a MAC.

Evaluating the Officers and NCOs will be an interesting task so that they remain competitive. As I remember many cautioning me against the AFPAK Hands program.
 

Il Duce

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#11
According to this, the military methods seem to follow our methods in democratization and lots of other stuff. I wonder is it general ignorance or is it hubris? Can nothing else work if it does not have the American stamp of approval or is it our cultural biases that prevent us from looking out further into the world to find solutions? Are we just inept at implementing practical solutions or are the real solutions counter to the US interests that our leaders actually work toward? Not to change the topic of the thread nor do they require answer but these are just some of the thoughts that I had reading your post. It seems we have failed to learn from the same failures for the past couple decades.
I tend to think it's more operational inertia in the mode of 'to a hammer, everything looks like a nail.'

We give missions to a commander - BDE, DIV, Corps - who has experience commanding Army units to build foreign armies - at least in IZ and AF. Of course, they're going to think 'Army' means the thing they've commanded and served in their entire lives. It takes a different perspective to wonder what type, what institutions, what functions, what recruiting strategy, what will this thing look like in 20 years - a whole host of factors - instead of just saying 'well, I got a mission on no-notice to build an Army - and I only know one kind of Army - so let's get cracking, I've got 12 months tops.'

That to me is one of the terrible things about our lionization of our performance in these two wars. We keep saying we got COIN right - as though it's true (and in my opinion it is definitely not true) - so we're unwilling to look at the strategic and operational mistakes we made and how we might do it differently. The SFABs are doubling down and institutionalizing the shitty, ineffective band-aids we came up with during the war.
 

Totentanz

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#12
That to me is one of the terrible things about our lionization of our performance in these two wars. We keep saying we got COIN right - as though it's true (and in my opinion it is definitely not true) - so we're unwilling to look at the strategic and operational mistakes we made and how we might do it differently. The SFABs are doubling down and institutionalizing the shitty, ineffective band-aids we came up with during the war.
This is, IMO, one of the biggest weaknesses of our thinking. Checking the right blocks mean that the results we want should pour out, and when they don't, we either a) say they do and declare victory anyway, b) implement a bunch of "fixes" to change the blocks that need to be checked (which frequently clashes with reality, especially when it doesn't address all situations) or c) blank stare and ignore the problem.
 

Ocoka

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#13
This is, IMO, one of the biggest weaknesses of our thinking. Checking the right blocks mean that the results we want should pour out, and when they don't, we either a) say they do and declare victory anyway, b) implement a bunch of "fixes" to change the blocks that need to be checked (which frequently clashes with reality, especially when it doesn't address all situations) or c) blank stare and ignore the problem.
It's like a template or a formula for COIN that isn't flexible and doesn't account for innovation or initiative or creativity on the spot.
 
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Marauder06

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#14
One of the Strategists in the 5 Shop back in the day, and I say that because both of us have since left, talked about how the Army made philosophical decisions that he just didn't agree with. It prioritized readiness over force structure. And although he would think this is an awesome idea, we need a lot more of them, not specifically on the SFAB mission, but being caretaker units that can expand in times of war and then keeping a certain amount of BDEs at a T1. I don't think the Army is changing it's philosophy, but always thought the training mission fell more in line with SF and previous individual augments to a MAC.

Evaluating the Officers and NCOs will be an interesting task so that they remain competitive. As I remember many cautioning me against the AFPAK Hands program.
Many of the Army's "special" programs that they tell people are going to be career-enhancing turn out to be graveyards for officers' careers. For example. MiTTs and AFPAK Hands were supposed to be so important, and so great, but they were so far outside of the norm of what people who actually sit on boards did (which got them to where they are, so that is "the right path" as far as they are concerned) that it greatly disadvantaged them when it came to their peer competitors. I was in a briefing a couple of years ago when the promotion rates for AFPAK Hands was disclosed. Single-digit-percentage selection for command and promotion to O6. Those guys got wrecked when it came to career advancement.
 

pardus

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#15
Honestly, I think the general American mindset is just not conducive to COIN or the training of foreign forces, thus creating a major obstacle right out of the gate.
Sure there are some people that can do it, but they need to be lead by people with the appropriate mindset and willingness to commit 100% to that mission, and frankly that magical combination is just not realistic IMO.

My .02c
 

Ocoka

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#16
Honestly, I think the general American mindset is just not conducive to COIN or the training of foreign forces, thus creating a major obstacle right out of the gate.
Sure there are some people that can do it, but they need to be lead by people with the appropriate mindset and willingness to commit 100% to that mission, and frankly that magical combination is just not realistic IMO.

My .02c

Spot on. It don't come in a can.
 
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#17
War on the Rocks has a different opinion than the prevailing on SS that seems valuable: Replaced? For what it's worth the author is an SF officer.

BLUF: The author suggests that if SF doesn't reevaluate its stance to emphasize being the nation's primary foreign advisors as opposed to the purely UW experts it will relegate itself to niche status soon. He purely points out that the SF refocus away from DA to "get back to the roots" of UW could have the unforeseen consequences of too much specialization.
 

Ocoka

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#18
War on the Rocks has a different opinion than the prevailing on SS that seems valuable: Replaced? For what it's worth the author is an SF officer.

BLUF: The author suggests that if SF doesn't reevaluate its stance to emphasize being the nation's primary foreign advisors as opposed to the purely UW experts it will relegate itself to niche status soon. He purely points out that the SF refocus away from DA to "get back to the roots" of UW could have the unforeseen consequences of too much specialization.

Good article. I had no idea FID was being conducted by Guard, Reserve and IRR recalls. You get what you pay for. Put inexperienced or inadequately trained personnel in an advisory capacity with host nation forces and you'll eventually get friction, resentment, green on blues or outright treachery. Americans tend to be impatient with indigs, and impatience and cultural insensitivity aren't a good mix.
 

ThunderHorse

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#19
Good article. I had no idea FID was being conducted by Guard, Reserve and IRR recalls. You get what you pay for. Put inexperienced or inadequately trained personnel in an advisory capacity with host nation forces and you'll eventually get friction, resentment, green on blues or outright treachery. Americans tend to be impatient with indigs, and impatience and cultural insensitivity aren't a good mix.
If you look hard at the military assistance program to Greece back in 1947 you had a tremendous hodge podge of personnel being assigned or volunteering. From High Performers to shit stains, it worked I suppose, Greece didn't fall to communism.
 

Teufel

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#20
War on the Rocks has a different opinion than the prevailing on SS that seems valuable: Replaced? For what it's worth the author is an SF officer.

BLUF: The author suggests that if SF doesn't reevaluate its stance to emphasize being the nation's primary foreign advisors as opposed to the purely UW experts it will relegate itself to niche status soon. He purely points out that the SF refocus away from DA to "get back to the roots" of UW could have the unforeseen consequences of too much specialization.
The author is spot on. In my experience conventional forces trained the Iraqi and Afghani armies while SOF trained commandos and conducted raids. We, the Marine Corps and the Army, deployed hundreds, if not thousands, of embedded training teams to both countries that were cobbled together out of voluntold personnel with minimal training. I can't speak for the Army but I noticed a trend where the "least strongest" company commander got picked to be the training team leader, often after a dismal performance at an evaluated exercise. This wasn't always the case but not uncommon. 15 years of war and we couldn't figure out how to staff those training teams in a better fashion. These security assistance brigades are a bit late to the party but they are a good idea given the tasks the conventional Army and Marine Corps have been tasked with in the past.