Stars and Stripes – Base soldiers begin Special Forces-style security missions in the Indo-Pacific
Staff Sgt. Brandon Williams of the 1st Battalion, 5th Security Assistance Brigade leads a small unit tactics training team at Mahajan Rifle Range in Rajasthan, India, February 9, 2021 (Joseph Tolliver / US Army)
Small teams of soldiers have been deployed across the Indo-Pacific this year on missions similar to those carried out by the Green Berets.
The troops, which have already been dispatched to places such as India, Thailand, Maldives, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and the Philippines, are assigned to the 5th Security Forces Assistance Brigade of 820 Soldiers from Joint Base Fort Lewis-McChord, Wash.
Activated in May 2020, the unit was created as part of a defense strategy that calls for moving away from counterinsurgency missions taking place in Iraq and Afghanistan, the brigade spokesperson said. , Major Willian Leasure.
China and Russia have stepped up strategic competition with the United States and its allies, making it important for U.S. forces to forge links with armed forces around the world. In the event of a conflict, it will be vital for American troops to know how to work with their foreign counterparts.
The brigade’s mission of strengthening alliances and finding new military partners is seen as crucial to this strategic competition, Leasure said in a telephone interview Thursday.
Papua New Guinea Defense Forces personnel brief members of the 5th Army Security Assistance Brigade at a supply warehouse in Murray Barracks, Papua New Guinea, May 24 2021. (Francois Kinney / US Army)
This is a task that has, in the past, been the preserve of Green Berets, said Chief Warrant Officer Jason Sosnicki, maintainer and member of 5th SFAB who deployed to Papua New Guinea in May for a six week mission.
“Green berets work with [partner nations’] special forces, ”he said by phone Wednesday from Port Moresby. “We work in partnership with normal infantry, engineers, artillery and logistics elements.”
The elite nature of special forces means they can only deploy for a short time, limiting the number of foreign troops to work with, he said.
Thus, soldiers assigned to the Security Forces Assistance Brigade aim to build relationships, outside of combat exercises and deployments, with a larger group of foreign soldiers while continuously working overseas, said Sosnicki.
The goal of the team of 12 soldiers on their first mission to Papua New Guinea is to assess the logistics capabilities of local forces, such as their ability to keep their vehicles running, as well as a supply of parts. spare. Such information will be passed on to the next US troops that will visit the country, Sosnicki said.
“When American personnel come, they will better understand Papua New Guinea’s strengths and challenges,” he said.
These challenges include lack of funding and some aging vehicles kept roadworthy with the kind of ingenuity that has been lost by the well-stocked Western military in recent years, Sosnicki said.
Captain LaShaun Smith, team leader of 1st Battalion, 5th Security Assistance Brigade deployed to Indonesia, teaches a leadership course to an Indonesian Army unit, April 1, 2021. (US Army)
The island nation north of Australia could be a key partner in the strategic competition with China, which has illegally occupied territory north of the South China Sea.
The United States and Australia plan to establish a presence on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea by renovating a WWII naval base.
The Papua New Guinea mission coincides with the trips of other members of the brigade to Mongolia, Indonesia and the Philippines, Leasure said. Another group recently arrived in Thailand.
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