In long Afghan war, US Army tries new way to deploy trainers

FORT BENNING: As a US Army medic, Sergeant First Class Jonathan Ortega admits that when he will get to Afghanistan, his instinct can be to lend a hand take care of any wounded Afghan troops. It is a feeling he must battle.

Ortega is heading quickly to the 16-year-old battle as part of a new more or less US Army training brigade in particular created to mentor Afghan infantrymen within the field and taught to resist taking up missions, even within the tournament of a Taliban attack.

"It would be hard for me," stated Ortega, 30, who treated wounded Iraqi forces when he deployed to Mosul in 2005 and 2006.

"But that's a big piece ... not to get my hands dirty. To step back (and advise them)."

In America's longest battle, Ortega's feedback lift echoes of the many running shoes who came prior to him, who wrestled with when to intrude directly, when to stand back and where to set expectations for Afghan infantrymen who have lengthy struggled against a Taliban insurgency.

But the United States Army is hoping that Ortega and his more than 800 colleagues are the start of one thing new, as members of the inaugural Security Force Assistance Brigade, or SFAB, whose creation objectives to institutionalize and give a boost to the advising of foreign infantrymen that till now was extra ad hoc.

The Army proudly points to the extra rigorous training and deep combat revel in of the brigade's recruits, who're able to deploy right down to small-sized Afghan troop formations - bringing with them the facility to lend a hand direct US air moves.

Still, the brigade's creation has drawn scrutiny and questions about if it is deploying too quickly and if expectations are set too excessive for infantrymen whose targets of mentoring Afghan forces are, by definition, long-term.

"It's an evolution, not a revolution," said Jason Amerine, an Afghan battle veteran and a fellow at the New America Foundation assume tank in Washington, who broadly helps the SFAB's creation.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis expressed self belief in its readiness and stated he were conserving a detailed eye at the brigade's development, part of his efforts to ease force on overstretched particular operations forces.

"You'll see more and more of this," Mattis instructed Reuters after a seek advice from to the troops ultimate week at Fort Benning, Georgia.

The deployment within the coming weeks is any other sign of deepening US involvement in Afghanistan underneath President Donald Trump, even as critics warn his military cannot promise to defeat the Taliban anytime quickly or conquer Afghanistan's huge political divisions and entrenched corruption. More than 2,400 US forces have died within the battle.

Not particular forces

Sergeant First Class Jeremiah Velez, 34, said he was neatly conscious that his brigade's creation had induced some nervousness in parts of the United States particular operations group. But he was not letting it get to him.

"In one ear, out the other," said Velez, whose subsequent deployment to Afghanistan can be his fifth.

Last year, a photo of a green-colored beret that gave the look to be a prototype for the SFAB drew unwelcome comparisons with Army Special Forces, referred to as Green Berets.

Anger over the berets even led to an online petition with more than 88,000 signatures.

Retired US Army Brigadier General Donald Bolduc, who once led commandos in Afghanistan, said the SFABs had been expensive, pointless and risked undertaking creep into particular operation forces' (SOF) terrain.

"The whole thing smells of mimicking SOF," said Bolduc, who served 66 months in Afghanistan.

The Army, which ultimately selected a brown beret for the brigade, has stressed the SFAB is not particular forces, whose tasks normally come with training foreign militaries, in particular commandos.

The SFAB's debut reflects an try by the Army to deal better with open-ended counter-insurgency battles in a way that doesn't undermine rising US focus on high-end military demanding situations from China and Russia.

By creating six deliberate US Army training brigades, the Pentagon hopes to let different brigades and particular operations forces prepare for various missions.

Army Chief of Staff General Mark Milley has championed the SFABs to be able to institutionalize a role the Army performed extra haphazardly during the battle, ripping aside brigades to search out infantrymen to train Afghans.

"We were pulling it out of our butts, so to speak," Milley said at the brigade's activation ceremony at Fort Benning ultimate Thursday. "We made it happen. But it wasn't as good as it could have been."

The longest battle

First Sergeant Sammy Walker, who deployed four times to Iraq, bristles at the idea of strolling away from Afghanistan or Iraq and points to the sacrifices of friends who misplaced their lives.

"Over the years, 16 years, you start counting back how many people you've known who have been hurt or killed. It's a lot of people," said Walker, part of a workforce of SFAB logistics advisers.

Trump lengthy identified with war-weary Americans skeptical in regards to the Afghan battle, even advocating a pullout. But faced with the hazards posed by the Taliban, he reversed himself and ultimate August licensed a extra competitive battle technique.


Yet a battlefield defeat for the Taliban seems far-off.


"I'm not entirely convinced that the SFABs are going to make a strategic difference in winning the war," said Seth Jones, knowledgeable at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He said a best-case state of affairs would see the Taliban understand it cannot win, leading to peace negotiations.


Walker and his workforce are neatly acutely aware of Afghanistan's many shortfalls, together with accusations of corruption. But they are taking an extended view.


"Everything takes time," said Sergeant First Class Keisha Jumpp, any other SFAB adviser. "It's just baby steps, baby steps."
In long Afghan war, US Army tries new way to deploy trainers In long Afghan war, US Army tries new way to deploy trainers Reviewed by kailash soni on February 14, 2018 Rating: 5
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