Combat Service Support Soldiers take pride in building the 1st SFAB
By Spc. Noelle Wiehe, 50th Public Affairs Detachment
FORT BENNING, Ga. (Nov. 16, 2017) – Sgt. 1st Class Larhonda Hankins, 6th Battalion, 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade, is an advocate for the opportunity for personal growth, which goes hand-in-hand with Soldiers joining the 1st SFAB at Kelley Hill at Fort Benning, Georgia.
Hankins, 32, has served 14 years in the U.S. Army as a 92Y – unit supply specialist. She now serves as the unit supply noncommissioned officer in charge. She has been with the 1st SFAB since Aug. 20. Hankins hails from West Palm Beach, Florida, and said she is happy to be at Fort Benning.
Her number one goal as a 92Y is property accountability, and she is proud to do that job within the Army’s newest unit.
“To be a part of something brand new, unique was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I did not think would come around,” Hankins said.
Hankins had previously served in a brigade support battalion during her time with 4th Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, at Fort Carson, Colorado, where she said she had the largest property book in the brigade. She came to the 1st SFAB seeking diversity and rank. What she found was a clean slate where she would put her skills to the test.
“We really fell in on Kelley Hill – a hill named Kelley,” she said. “There was nothing here; so the 92Ys here love it because (we) start from scratch.”
1st SFAB is a new unit that is 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.
SFABs allow the Army to reduce, over time, the demand for conventional brigade combat teams for combat advising. This will allow BCTs to focus on readiness for warfighting against near-peer threats.
A fellow sustainment Soldier, Sgt. 1st Class Rachel Lyons, 42A – human resources specialist – echoed Hankins’ sentiments saying she loves that they are building the unit from the ground up.
“Everything is ‘this is a first,’” Lyons said. “Building this from nothing is enjoyable for me.”
Hankins and Lyons are the sole two senior female noncommissioned officers in the 6th Bn., 1st SFAB, and both said they are inspired by one another.
As a 92Y with the 1st SFAB, Hankins said she serves as the supply noncommissioned officer in charge and officer in charge. She said she has gone from moving supplies to managing movement and has found the responsibility rewarding.
“Because you are a (92Y), you are everybody’s friend and having a good command team have your back really makes a difference,” Hankins said. “If you have the support of your command, you can’t go wrong.”
While with the 1st SFAB, Hankins said she hopes to attend Pathfinder School and possibly Airborne School.
“I think it’s always good to expand you skills, whether they’re soft skills, MOS related or non-MOS related,” Lyons said. “The chain of command is very willing to send (Soldiers) to all kinds of schools.”
Lyons, a mother of preschool-age triplets, went to Jumpmaster School before her children were walking, graduated Pathfinder School recently here with class 001-18 and was an Airborne School instructor when one of the first female Ranger School graduates went through the course to earn their Parachutist Badge.
“Am I going to do pathfinder operations downrange? I’m not sure, but it’s good to know that I now have the skill set and if they’re going to employ me in that way then I’m there to do it. I’m ready to do it and I want to do it,” Lyons said. “For me, any opportunity to do something different from my job, I am going to jump all over it.”
Lyons looks forward to advising in her own area of expertise downrange, when they encounter an administrative section she hopes to give them tips on structuring their accountability of personnel.
“Building from the ground up and being able to work with all these different elements and being outside of what you would typically walk into, is good for a 42A because you get an opportunity to develop your skills,” Lyons said.
Hankins encourages 92Y throughout the Army who are interested in joining the brigade to “go for it.”
“If you do want to come, this is a unit I can honestly say (Soldiers) will soar in,” Hankins said. “If you’re coming over (to the SFAB), definitely give it more than a try; when you give it all you’ve got, your leaders are definitely going to support you.”
Lyons said the key to succeeding in the 1st SFAB is resilience. She said she would not recommend the SFAB to a Soldier who has not seen diversity in the types of units they’ve been in with the Army.
“It’s definitely not for anybody; it’s for somebody who can adapt well and is okay with change and ambiguity – not knowing what is expected of them yet is able to perform consistently to 100 percent of their ability all the time, can communicate and is willing to get up and go,” Lyons said.
“Hands down, if you’re looking for noncompetitive encouragement and motivation as far 92Ys, you’re going to get it in this unit better than anyone in the Army – Reserve and National Guard included,” Hankins said.
Soldiers interested in joining the 1st SFAB should contact their branch manager.
To read the story on the Army News Service, visit www.army.mil/article/196789.