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New tactical advisor readiness program sets the bar

The 5th Security Force Assistance Brigade recognized the winning team in the inaugural Tactical Advisor Readiness Program competition, Jan. 21, 2021 at Joint Base Lewis McChord. Photo by Staff Sgt. Olivia Guerrero, 5th SFAB Public Affairs.

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JOINT BASE LEWIS MCCHORD - 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, Jan. 21, 2021.

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.

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.

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