FORT POLK, La. — Seventeen years in the infantry have turned Army 1st Sgt. Shaun Morgan into a hard-charging grunt, but the veteran of five combat tours who recently deployed to Afghanistan is prepared to take a back seat and let that nation’s forces lead the fight.
It won’t be easy, said Morgan, a company senior enlisted leader with the Army’s new 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade. The unit is charged with advising Afghan soldiers closer to the front lines than conventional U.S. troops have operated in several years. But he believes his unit — the Army’s first brigade of specially trained combat advisers — is the right formation to take the lead in the mission that top Pentagon brass hope will break a long stalemate in the 16-year fight against the Taliban.
“So, we’ve been kind of going about it wrong for a while, I think,” Morgan told Stars and Stripes during pre-deployment training recently at the Joint Readiness Training Center at this central Louisiana Army post, noting the U.S. spent years fighting the Taliban before handing the mission off to the Afghans while training them primarily at their military’s senior levels. “Maybe this is an opportunity to get on the right foot toward getting it right. Like, we couldn’t get it through our heads that we weren’t the fighters, right? Especially in the infantry – I think the bosses decided maybe this is the right shot, and it just makes sense to me.”
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