Command and control issues are always a problem. However, they are especially prevalent for a newly formed brigade headed to Afghanistan in the spring with the sole mission of advising and assisting Afghan National Army personnel.
The 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade, or SFAB, stood up in August, is a first-of-its-kind unit that will accompany Afghan soldiers directly on missions.
During a recent visit to the unit’s training at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, La., personnel described a few of the command and control issues they might face when they deploy.
“Command and control, that’s always going to be a problem even when you’re working with pure American elements,” Capt. Wallace Rollins, officer in charge with the 2nd Battalion, 1st SFAB, Team 1212, said. “There will be some challenges there, just differences in radios, ways to engage interpreters through a radio – that can be a very difficult thing to do. Availability of interpreters over there.”
Rollins noted that while much work goes into the problem of mission command, the JRTC rotation has been a good opportunity to exercise these problems prior to deployment such as how to work with an interpreter through an FM radio on a different style radio.
To help solve the issue of communicating with Afghans speaking different languages and using different systems, Maj. Tony Nocchi, communications officer for the brigade, said the Army is considering capabilities and devices that will bridge them in a secure means. He declined to provide additional material citing security reasons.
Another challenge the brigade is facing is what capabilities and capacity will be included in the unit. Since the brigade is so new and so specialized, “a lot of the same capabilities and capacity that would normally reside at battalion level and definitely brigade level gets pushed down even lower now,” Col. Scott Jackson, the brigade’s commander said. “We’re pushing the same capability that exists at battalion level two echelons down from what a conventional brigade does.”