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5th SFAB looking for volunteers to make a difference

In March 2021, 5th SFAB advisors train with members of the Maldives National Defence Force on basic rifle marksmanship. Photo credit: 5th SFAB

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It is the small relationships built between the United States Army and its allies and partners around the globe that may make the big difference in a conflict. 

Under the command of Col. Jonathan Chung, the highly qualified soldiers who volunteer to serve with the 5th Security Force Assistance Brigade (SFAB) - also known as the Vanguard Brigade - at Joint Base Lewis-McChord conduct security force assistance (SFA) missions in order to train, assist, enable, advise and accompany operations with allied and partner nations.

"The most satisfying aspect of serving with the 5th SFAB is being able to work with and learn from soldiers with a high level of experience both within the organization and across the world," said SSgt. Eric Wilson, 3rd Squadron.

Currently there are five active-duty SFABs which are regionally aligned to Geographic Combat Commands (GCCs) and one Army National Guard SFAB which supports the active-duty SFABs. The Vanguard Brigade is aligned with the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command.

The brigade is comprised of approximately 800 volunteer personnel comprised of 64 advisor teams from one of six battalions. There are three maneuver battalions (two infantry; one cavalry) and three support battalions (engineer, artillery and logistics). Each battalion is comprised of advisor teams that deploy to individual countries to work together on the training requested by the host nation.

From these battalions a force package of approximately 200 advisors led by one of the three maneuver battalions and complemented by enabling teams from the support battalions can be deployed into theater every six months.

"I advised Bangladesh officers from the Bangladesh Army about the protection warfighting function, counter IED techniques and mission planning," explained SSgt. Neemia Tiapula, 5th Battalion.

"I was partnered with a group of officers from Bangladesh and the United Kingdom ... where we shared our planning processes to increase our ability to plan together for future missions."

The 5th SFAB's force packages train together as a unit for a year prior to deploying for six months. Each unit rotates so that at any one time one-third of the brigade is in the Indo-Pacific while the other two-thirds are at JBLM resetting and preparing.

To volunteer to serve with the 5th SFAB, soldiers complete an assessment at Fort Benning, Georgia to determine if they have the physical fitness, job knowledge and character standards. If selected, they then attend the Combat Advisor Training Course (CATC), also at Fort Benning, where they learn how to be an advisor and how to operate as a team member.

"I volunteered to join the 5th SFAB with the intention to showcase my talents as a signal soldier to the organization, to learn more about my job and be in the atmosphere of talented soldiers," explained SSgt. Willie Strickland, 3rd Squadron.

"I would absolutely do it again. This organization has allowed me to gain the knowledge, maturity and confidence in myself when a challenge is presented."

To learn more about volunteering to serve with the 5th SFAB, talk with your unit's career advisor.

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