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Fort Bragg picked for new 800-soldier unit

Fort Bragg (Fort Bragg/Released)

The Army has selected Fort Bragg to be home to one of its newest units.

The second Security Force Assistance Brigade will be activated on the nation’s largest military installation next month.

The first SFAB was stood up earlier this year at Fort Benning, Georgia. Fort Bragg officials had said the second such brigade could be housed in space previously used by the inactivated 440th Airlift Wing, an Air Force Reserve unit that was shuttered last year.

The Fort Bragg unit will be the second of six planned SFABs, specialized units “whose core mission is to conduct advise-and-assist operations with allied and partner nations.”

That includes in Iraq and Afghanistan, where brigade combat teams have been used to train and advise militaries in those nations. The 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division is deployed to Afghanistan on one such mission, working with Afghan troops near Kandahar.

Officials have said the SFABs will allow other brigades to train and focus on their primary missions. The units are expected to be in high demand.

“It is my assessment, and the assessment of the secretary and the assessment of the Army staff, that we are likely to be involved in train, advise, and assist operations for many years to come,” said Gen. Mark A. Milley, chief of staff of the Army.

In recent months, the units have drawn some controversial attention because of perceived similarities between them and existing special operations units, including Special Forces.

The Army plans to have all six SFABs in place by 2022.

Each unit will consist of about 800 senior and noncommissioned officers “who have proven expertise in training and advising foreign security forces,” officials said. The soldiers are expected to be highly trained and among the top tactical leaders in the Army.

The decision to activate the second brigade at Fort Bragg was based on strategic considerations that include the projected time to activate and train the unit, the presence of senior grade personnel to operate the unit and required facility costs, officials said.

The new brigade was discussed as a possibility for Fort Bragg last month, when an official said at least 2,500 new troops could move to the post in the coming years.

Fort Bragg is home to more than 54,000 service members, including students and Reservists. The installation is believed to be one of the largest in the world.

Roger Vickers, stationing and installation plan manager for the post, has said the expected growth is based in part on decisions that had not yet been finalized.

He was speaking to the Regional Land Use Advisory Commission, a nonprofit organization that helps manage growth around the Army post.

“We anticipate as we sit here today that over the next five years Fort Bragg is going to grow by some 2,500 personnel,” Vickers aid. “That includes growth in almost every major tenant on the installation.”

To join a SFAB, soldier will be screened based on qualifications and experience.

“The unit will receive the best, most advanced military equipment available,” the Army said in a statement. “SFAB soldiers receive special training through the Military Advisor Training Academy to include language, foreign weapons and the Joint Fires Observer course.”

Commanders and other leaders also will need to meet requirements. Commanders will have previously led a brigade, and all enlisted soldiers in the unit will hold the rank of sergeant or above.

Earlier this year, the Army announced thousands of dollars in bonuses to entice troops into the units.

Military editor Drew Brooks can be reached at [email protected] or 486-3567.


© 2017 The Fayetteville Observer (Fayetteville, N.C.)

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.