NTC rotation brings change to 10th Mountain Division unit
The National Training Center in Fort Irwin, Calif., has become a proving ground for the 2nd Brigade Combat Team's ability to transition from a traditional brigade with several battalions to a Security Forces Assistance Brigade with battle space integrators and cross functional teams.
The 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment is one of the battalions within the 10th Mountain Division's 2nd BCT footprint that is training at NTC while transitioning into the role of a BSI. The change will bring Soldiers in line to support their Security Forces Assistance Advisory Team during a deployment rotation to Afghanistan in 2013.
"In the past we owned battle space, which means we were in charge of everything on the ground and in the air, but now as an integrator, the Afghan National Security Forces will be operating in their own boundaries and we will have adviser teams with them," said Lt. Col. Robert Fouche, 2-14 Infantry commander. "The ANSF will work through us to coordinate assets that, prior to now, we used to be responsible for. We will not be planning the operations; it will be the ANSF."
The SFAAT mission is to advise and assist ANSF forces, such as the Afghan National Army, Afghan Border Patrol, Afghan National Civil Order Police and Afghan Uniformed Police, as they transition to being able to operate on their own. The BSI will enable the SFAAT within the battle space of their assigned counterparts.
The battalion already has many of the assets it needs to become a BSI. The biggest change to their operation is to man the SFAAT team and be able to support them with all the equipment and resources they will need to accomplish the mission down range.
"To be a battle space integrator, you really do not have to change, but we need to be able to man the SFAAT teams," Fouche said.
Since SFAAT teams are populated with experienced leadership from all the major sections in the battalion, sacrifices had to be made.
"We had to sacrifice somewhere in the battalion, so we identified our primary mission was to have a good SFAAT team," explained Command Sgt. Maj. James Wafe, 2-14 Infantry senior enlisted adviser. "What we did was pull the guys out of the staff sections, and a lot of junior leaders moved up to fill those positions."
"I do not think it hurt us that bad, but a lot of times in a staff you go off experience and a lot of the junior leaders do not have the experience yet, so they are learning as they go. The one good thing about it is they want to learn," Wafe added.
Once the SFAAT teams were identified, the battalion and companies had to establish what their overall function will be as support for them.
"The BSI provides the SFAAT pretty much everything we use to provide for the maneuver forces," Fouche explained. "We provide close-air support and brigade enablers like surveillance assets. We are the responsible level for artillery, mortars and any of the organic assets we own. We (as a BSI) will integrate those into the SFAATs."
As for the company becoming a CFT, their main concern is to provide support to the SFAAT team by way of a security force and other defense positions.
"The cross functional team at the company level will integrate the enablers that they control and possess at their level," Fouche said. "As far as the defense of the combat outposts, that is pretty much unchanged. They will be doing the same thing as far as force protection."
This NTC rotation has brought all the levels of support, security forces and SFAAT teams together to hash out any problems there may have been in the developmental stages of the transition.
"From the training perspective, I think this NTC experience will really help us in the execution of our mission in Afghanistan, because there were a lot of things that were unclear between the coordination," Fouche said.
"Now that we have set up, we have organized the SFAAT differently; it is kind of in the middle between the company CFT and a battalion-level (BSI) team," he continued." NTC has helped us clarify those roles and responsibilities so when we get down range, hopefully we will not have as much confusion. That is the biggest thing NTC will do for us."
Article by Staff Sgt. Jennifer Bunn, Army.mil