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New Tactical Advisor Readiness Program Sets The Bar

JOINT BASE LEWIS MCCHORD, Wash. – Advisors from 5th Security Force Assistance Brigade took part in an intensive test of their physical fitness and tactical expertise in the inaugural Tactical Advisor Readiness Program assessment at Joint Base Lewis McChord, Washington, Jan. 21, 2021.

“We trust teams, filled with great Non-Commissioned Officers, to build and sustain mastery of the fundamentals of combined arms warfare in garrison, so that these teams can operate alone as our ambassadors in foreign countries,” 5th SFAB Commanding General, Brig. Gen. Curtis Taylor said.

SFAB teams are designed to be highly-modular and independently deployable in configurations ranging from 4-12 personnel depending on the advisory function of the team such as logistics, communications, maneuver, medical, engineering or field artillery.

“The TARP is where we bring our teams together to compete against one another so that we can reward our very best and validate our training,” Taylor said.

The TARP event began at 6:30 a.m. on a dark and rain-soaked Vanguard Field where 5th SFAB NCOs like C Company, 2nd Battalion, 5th SFAB’s 1st Sgt. Anthony Fuentes, took on a challenging physical training event designed to test the stamina and strength of his team.

“I started an all-volunteer 5 a.m. team train up event the day we received the concept of operations for the TARP event,” Fuentes said. “We used the TARP CONOP as an objective and built our team mission statement with key tasks each team member had to hit for us to be successful.”

The day continued with a timed ruck march which led to an obstacle course; followed by multiple stations which included an SFAB Advisor knowledge test followed by lanes testing weapon assembly and disassembly, treating a casualty, operating tactical communications equipment, call for fire, and a lay out of all required equipment.

It was Fuentes team, Battalion Advisor Team 520, that outlasted the other teams from across the brigade at the end of the day.

“It’s hard to build a team when isolated in a hotel room during COVID-19 restrictions or during large scale exercises,” Fuentes said. “We just needed to focus on bettering each other, and this event allowed us to do that.”

The 5th SFAB will send its first teams into the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command’s Area of Operation in the coming weeks. This monthly TARP event becomes increasingly critical in preparing Advisors for a challenging operational environment.

“Across the formation today, I saw young sergeants leading their team in hard PT, shouldering the load when the litter got too heavy and serving as subject matter experts for their team on the communication lane.” Taylor said. “I have great confidence that these superb NCOs will represent our Army and our Nation with pride across the Indo-Pacific.”

One of these young sergeants was Sgt. April Mullins, a maintenance advisor and wheeled vehicle mechanic from 3rd Squadron, 5th SFAB.

“During the TARP event, I realized that while we are great as a team, we also need to know how to do things on our own when our teammates are absent,” Mullins said. “This really showed us that we need to train to know each other’s job as well as we know our own.”

This was part of the Commanding General’s intent during the development of this first TARP event, as Taylor emphasized that SFABs are built on a foundation of autonomy and accountability.

The task of putting this together, fell to 3rd Squadron, 5th SFAB Operations Sgt. Maj. Thomas Wrinkle.

“We modeled the event after an Expert Infantry Badge/Expert Soldier Badge/Spur Ride competition and included all of the units within 5th SFAB to execute,” Wrinkle said. “We chose events that would allow the teams to operate as a team and also test them as individuals.”

The winning team received recognition from Brig. Gen. Taylor and the 5th SFAB’s senior enlisted advisor, Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Craven at a ceremony later that day. The monthly winning team will also have their team’s achievement enshrined in unit folklore with their team number engraved on a unit trophy.

Until then, NCOs will continue to train their teams beginning with 90 minutes of hard PT every morning preparing for next month’s TARP event and any mission that lies ahead.

By MAJ William Leasure, 5th Security Force Assistance Brigade Public Affairs

3 Responses to “New Tactical Advisor Readiness Program Sets The Bar”

  1. Steve says:

    Just a friendly reminder that SFABs really don’t need to cover down on advising dismounted maneuver, tactical medicine, tactical communications, or combat engineering–there’s about a division’s worth of folks that have been providing that capability for going on 70 years now.

    • SSD says:

      There are more missions than capacity.

    • Terry Baldwin says:

      Steve,

      SSD is correct. Reference US Army Special Forces, it is true that what we currently call Foreign Internal Defense (FID) is a specified mission for SF. However, it is not now nor has it ever been a mission exclusive or unique to SF. The only mission that is unique to SF is Unconventional Warfare (UW) formerly known as Guerrilla Warfare.

      That was SF’s sole focus for the first 10 years. We initially trickled into South East Asia and began counter-guerrilla support to friendly governments based on the idea of sending a guerrilla to fight a guerrilla. Moreover, SF conducted “FID” in Vietnam exclusively with forces they formed often made up of Nung mercenaries or Montagnard or Cambodian tribesmen. They were our guerrillas, with no affiliation with the ARVN and little loyalty to the central government of South Vietnam.

      The much larger number of American advisers with the ARVN were ALL conventional soldiers who performed that task for the entire 10 years plus of that war. Even in that one theater there was more requirements than SF could ever possibly cover down on.

      It is also true that, because there was relatively little FID going on between the end of the war in Vietnam and GWOT (about 25 years), SF took on most of those taskers and the conventional Army was happy to let us do it. However, it was only a habit, not a doctrine. NO Army or Joint manual ever declared that SF owned the FID mission.

      When GWOT started it was almost immediately obvious that SF was not going to be able to cover down on all the requirements. So, once again the conventional Army took on the task of advising conventional Host Nation units as they stood up. As they should. For years this went on in an ad hoc and inefficient fashion.

      The SFAB concept acknowledges the reality that demands for FID will remain high for the foreseeable future and SF cannot and should not take missions that conventional forces are capable of handling. Again, the SFAB is tailored to ensure that these advisers have the proper training and task organization for the mission.

      So, no, SF has not been doing FID like that for 70 years. Not even close.

      TLB