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    Army Civil Affairs Veterinarians Train at Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center

    Army Civil Affairs Veterinarians Train at Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center

    Photo By Staff Sgt. Robert Van Tuinen | 351st Civil Affairs Command veterinary officers review new x-rays of a horse during...... read more read more



    Story by Robert Van Tuinen 

    351st Civil Affairs Command

    MARINE CORPS MOUNTAIN WARFARE TRAINING CENTER BRIDGEPORT, CALIF. - The melting snow and budding flora of the Eastern Sierra Mountains provided the tranquil backdrop as eight reserve veterinary officers and a civil affairs team sergeant from the 351st Civil Affairs Command (CACOM) and one active-duty veterinary officer from the 97th Civil Affairs Battalion (Airborne), all in units regionally aligned under United States Pacific Command (PACOM), assembled here for a specialized veterinary training conference, May 1-8, 2016.

    Most Army veterinarians typically specialize in small animals. This training conference provided the veterinarians a venue which to to share information and perspectives from their diverse civilian practices as equine, mixed (large, small and food animal), small animal, and emergency small animal practitioners. The training not only consisted of hands-on large animal care of horses and mules but also included classroom and field training.

    The training was coordinated and planned by Lt. Col. Sylvia Miller, senior veterinary officer for the 351st Civil Affairs Command in Mountain View, California, and owner of a civilian veterinary mixed practice in Washington state.

    When asked why she coordinated this training, Miller explained that the prior commanding general of the 351st Civil Affairs Command tasked her with training the veterinary officers of the functional specialty teams. It was also intended as a means of integrating them into the civil affairs mission as a whole.

    “This training was an attempt to organize and cogently set civil affairs veterinary standards among all the 351 CACOM veterinarians, and enable them to perform in an austere environment,” Miller said. “The survival skills and rock climbing build the confidence of the officers and increased their skill set for future missions in the PACOM area of responsibility.”

    She added that veterinarians will not always be assigned to areas with a safety net and they have to be ready to go and operate in some pretty varied terrain. “I want our officers to be exposed to these environments and in case of exigent circumstances, to rely on their training and figure a way out without panicking,” Miller said. The Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center, located 21 miles northwest of Bridgeport, California, provided the perfect location to test the veterinarians in varied terrain.

    Capt. Kavishti Kokaram, a veterinarian with the 445th Civil Affairs Battalion in Mountain View, California and partner in a Turlock, California based large animal veterinary clinic, explained why his background presentation focused only on Nepal, which is only a small part of the PACOM area of responsibility. His objective was to provide background information for the conference’s culminating training event based off the lessons learned from the relief efforts for the April 2015 Nepal earthquake in accordance with guidance set by Miller.

    The culminating training event used the real life events of last year’s devastating Nepal earthquake and injected a veterinarian aspect requiring the veterinarians to assess the economic impact to the rural regions affected by the earthquake and to prepare courses of action for crisis management to include livestock. This required use of the Military Decision Making Process (MDMP) to develop courses of action to be presented to the commander for approval.

    In order to go through the MDMP for the scenario you must understand the mission of the civil affairs veterinarian. Maj. Chase Kohne, a veterinarian with the 440th Civil Affairs Battalion in Fort Carson, Colorado and an equine veterinarian in civilian practice, said “caring for animals is not the mission. Increasing the capacity of the locals to support their own agricultural economies is what we need to do.”

    Kokaram stated that the most valuable benefit of the training was “the networking between the veterinarians and the developing of a network of support.” This was expressed by many of the participants in the training. He went on to say that having an active duty civil affairs veterinarian here was also very beneficial. He said that the active duty veterinarian, Capt. Sarah Watkins, from the 97th Civil Affairs Battalion (Airborne) in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, shared her perspective, which is different in some ways than that of an Army Reserve veterinarian.

    Watkins, a small animal veterinarian, looked forward to this training as an opportunity for training on horses and pack animals. She was also very happy “for the opportunity to interact with other Civil Affairs veterinary officers, especially those in PACOM.” Watkins expressed that what really stuck in her mind was the ability of the Army Reserve veterinarians to transition between two different lives. She likes the unique perspectives and skills that the reservists bring from their civilian practices.

    “I will be reaching out more to the United States Army Reserve for input from other PACOM veterinarians,” Watkins said.

    Staff Sgt. Timothy Yates, civil affairs team sergeant from the 426th Civil Affairs Battalion (Airborne) in Upland, California, was the one non-commissioned officer attending the training conference. He shared that the training gave him a better appreciation and understanding of the role veterinarians have in civil affairs missions. “I think this training will enhance and ensure accurate assessments at the team level as it relates to animals and livestock within our areas of operation,” Yates said.

    When the training was completed, Capt. Jeff Richards, veterinarian for the 448th Civil Affairs Battalion in Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, summed up the importance of the week’s training.

    “In retrospect of the training, I think the transparency and dialogue with the other civil affairs veterinarians and the civil affairs team sergeant within the 351st Civil Affairs Command benefit the future of civil affairs veterinary missions by sharing the diversity of experience that exists in civil affairs as a functional specialty team asset,” Richards said. “Moving forward from this training, the active duty and reserve civil affairs components can coordinate and dialogue on civil affairs mission and tactical training when preparing for veterinary public health missions.”



    Date Taken: 05.15.2016
    Date Posted: 05.18.2016 14:16
    Story ID: 198464
    Location: BRIDGEPORT, CA, US 

    Web Views: 738
    Downloads: 0