Fort Benning, Ga. -- The 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade held an activation ceremony at the National Infantry Museum at Fort Benning, Georgia, Feb. 8, unveiling their unit colors for the first time in history.
Since the summer of 2017, the 1st SFAB has been building teams, training, and receiving new equipment tailored specifically to their unique mission. The ceremony served as the official recognition of the unit's activation.
The brainchild of the Army Chief of Staff, Gen. Mark A. Milley, the 1st SFAB was created in order to train, advise, assist, enable and accompany host-nation conventional forces in infantry, armor, cavalry, engineer, artillery and combined-arms warfare.
The unit is the first of six planned brigades specifically built to achieve the Army's vision of enabling combatant commanders to achieve theater security objectives by, with and through partnered and allied indigenous security forces for decades to come.
Throughout the Army's history, advise and assist missions in combat have been consistent. From World War II to Vietnam and Korea - continuing to today's battlefields in the Middle East - the Army has been helping our allies and partners build large, credible conventional forces capable to secure and protect their countries autonomously.
Although the mission set is nothing new, having dedicated units assigned to combat advising allows the Army to reduce, over time, the demand for conventional brigade combat teams to adhere to prior ad hoc solutions.
In January, the Department of Defense officially announced the 1st SFAB's deployment to Afghanistan this spring. Col. Scott A. Jackson, the commander of the 1st SFAB, reflected on the journey his unit has embarked on during a speech at the ceremony.
'Ladies and gentlemen, in less than nine months the formation in front of you has gone from a concept to a combat ready formation fully ready for employment,' said Jackson. 'Starting with nothing, this formation has simultaneously recruited, trained and assimilated more than 800 soldiers; received over 22,000 pieces of equipment; conducted two combat training center rotations; developed innovative doctrine related to security force assistance and formed and synchronized original equipping strategies to meet our unique mission requirements.'
Jackson expressed his gratitude for the outstanding and remarkable leaders that filled the ranks before him. Prior to volunteering, Soldiers had to serve in a similar position in a conventional unit before being selected for the 1st SFAB. Jackson attributes this requirement to the professional and skilled culture that has been cultivated over the last nine months.
'The secret sauce to our achievements is standing right in front of you - the Soldiers that compose the 1st SFAB,' said Jackson. 'Their achievement is indicative of the self-starting, high performing, mature and intelligent Soldiers we brought on board.'
In attendance for the ceremony was Milley, who spoke on the critical and enduring need for the SFABs and how the benefits of having a permanent, additive force structure would be tenfold for the Army.
'The SFAB gives us purpose-built formations designed to execute the critical mission of security force assistance without having to rip apart conventional BCTs,' said Milley.
He went on to say that by not relying on conventional BCTs to execute security force assistance missions, the Army can develop and maintain the number one priority of readiness.
'In times of national crisis when our Army is called to expand quickly, we already have a ready-made brigade combat team chain of command,' continued Milley. The brigade could be filled with Soldiers, conduct training, and be ready to fight in a relatively short period of time.
Milley continued that the 1st SFAB is an excellent organization because the unit is filled with the right people and emphasized that 80 percent of the formation are combat veterans, many with advising experience.
He closed by saying that he is very proud of the enthusiasm, training and efforts of the commander and the Soldiers and that the 1st SFAB will establish its own history.
In addition to revealing the unit's colors for the first time in history, the 1st SFAB cased their colors, symbolically preparing for deployment. Jackson addressed the brigade in its entirety for the last time before they deploy and offered some final guidance.
'Remember that you are the United States of America and the profession of arms to our partners,' said Jackson. 'Our conduct, appearance, actions and values must represent the best of America and its Army.'
Jackson closed out by voicing his confidence in his formation and acknowledging their phenomenal work.
'This is just the beginning of our journey and our legacy,' said Jackson. 'Stay true to your values, trust in one another and continue to write the story of the 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade.'