The 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade will make its maiden deployment to Afghanistan in the spring, according to a Thursday release from the Army.

The Fort Benning, Georgia-based brigade, which is aligned with U.S. Central Command, will be the first to test out a new unit structure of combat-experienced officers and noncommissioned officers who will train allied local forces.

About 800 soldiers are expected to deploy,

“Our team is honored to make history as the Army’s first purpose-built SFAB to deploy in support of our national security objectives,” 1st SFAB commander Col. Scott Jackson said in the release. “As combat advisers, we stand ready to train, advise, assist, accompany and enable our Afghan National Security Forces partners to secure peace in Afghanistan.”

The brigade, which arrived for its pre-deployment training at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, Louisiana, this month, will be training Afghan National Security Forces, the release said.

Officials have said the SFABs take the burden off brigade combat teams that have been sending headquarters elements to Afghanistan since combat deployments ceased in 2014.

Those train-advise-assist missions eroded readiness by splitting up units and keeping them out of the regular combat training cycle, but SFABs are designed to take over the combat advising task, teaching local troops the basics of infantry, armor, artillery and other elements.

“SFABs are made up mostly of volunteers, who are then specially trained in a range of skills to provide combat advising at the tactical level,” Gen. John Nicholson, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, said in the release. “They will enable us to help the Afghans with their operations simultaneously in multiple corps.”

The Army plans to stand up six brigades in all, each aligned to a combatant commander. A second SFAB will be activated at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, this year.

“Security force assistance brigades are specialized units whose core mission is to conduct advise-and-assist operations with allied and partner nations,” Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said in the release. “These units will help us achieve the national security objectives by, with, and through allied and partnered indigenous security forces for the next 25-50 years.”

Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members.

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