By Scott Prater | Mountaineer staff
FORT CARSON, Colo. — More than 45 Fort Carson Soldiers endured three days of physical and mental challenges Oct. 8-10, 2019, in hopes of earning a spot in one of the Army’s newest formations.
In what could be best described as a tryout, candidates wanting to join the ranks of the 4th Security Force Assistance Brigade (4th SFAB), worked through challenges designed to test not only their strength and endurance, but their problem-solving and leadership skills.
The Security Force Assistance Command (SFAC) sent a team of evaluators out to Fort Carson to conduct the evaluation, known as the Security Force Assistance Brigade Assessment and Selection event, which also evaluated candidates for desirable personality traits and suitability as team members.
Created with the intention of alleviating the enduring advise-and-assist mission load on U.S. Army brigade combat teams, SFABs are relatively new formations, specially trained and built to enable combatant commanders to accomplish theater-security objectives by training, advising, assisting, accompanying and enabling allied and partnered indigenous security forces. Currently, the Army holds five SFABs, based at several installations nationwide.
According to Army guidance, SFAB Soldiers are proven leaders with high promotion potential, mature self-starters who can operate independently, master tacticians who can coach, teach and mentor partnered foreign security forces, and are both ready to deploy at a moment’s notice and willing to assume increased responsibility if the Army rapidly expands.
SFAC evaluators typically hold these assessment events at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, home of the SFAC, but this event marked one of the first assessments conducted at an SFAB’s home post.
The three-day assessment included fitness tests, team challenges and leadership boards.
But it was far from an ordinary test.
Candidates were not only challenged physically and mentally, they were evaluated on their communication skills, ability to work well with others, resiliency, moral and ethical character, decision making, patience and attention to detail, among other qualities.
Day one of the assessment included a team obstacle course, other team-oriented challenges and an Army Physical Fitness Test.
“The SFAB has its own minimum standard for the APFT (70 points on individual components and 240 total points), which is considerably higher than the Army standard (60 points on individual components and 180 total points,” said Maj. Justin Gerron, brigade current operations officer, 4th SFAB. “And, it proved to be one of the main disqualifiers during this event.”
Day two included an 8-mile team ruck march with added challenges, while day three was reserved for board evaluations by 4th SFAB leaders.
“We informed candidates at the beginning they would be evaluated at every point going forward,” said Sgt. 1st Class Jonathan Sastre, SFAB assessment and selection operations and maneuver NCO. “We’re looking for experienced and qualified leaders who will represent the Army and the U.S. in a positive manner and who can communicate effectively in a variety of environments.”
While the SFAC evaluators conducted the assessment and evaluated the candidates, board members from the 4th SFAB leadership team selected the brigade’s newest Soldiers based on those evaluations and the candidates’ board performance.
“In all, 25 candidates were selected to join the 4th SFAB ranks,” Gerron said. “From what the SFAC evaluators told us, that’s a typical result for most of their evaluations.”
The 4th SFAB was looking to fill a variety of advisory and support roles and candidates were mostly NCOs or specialists who are promotable and come from a wide range of military operational specialties, including infantry, military police, cavalry scout, intelligence, fire support and logistics specialists.
Those selected to join 4th SFAB won’t have much time to settle in. The brigade will leave soon for the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, Louisiana, and plans to deploy to the U.S. Central Command area of operations next year.
Gerron explained that an SFAB assignment typically lasts three years, and Soldiers who accept the assignment generally move back to their military operational specialty following their stint in an SFAB.
Candidates who were not selected during this assessment can try again after six months as assessments will be conducted at Fort Bragg and other posts around the country periodically.