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    426th Civil Affairs Battalion Hosts Combined Joint Training

    Interviewing Villagers after Typhoon

    Photo By Spc. Jeffery Harris | U.S. Army Soldiers of the 426th Civil Affairs Battalion (Airborne) and Canadian Army...... read more read more



    Story by Staff Sgt. Robert Van Tuinen 

    351st Civil Affairs Command

    Camp Pendleton, California—The needs of the villagers following a typhoon were many; Security was the first issue.
    As the American Civil Affairs and Canadian Influence Activities soldiers spoke with the villagers they were told of looting, and the need for food, water, and power. The villagers wanted to speak to whomever was in charge but, with rapport building and persistence, the soldiers gained their confidence and talked to them about their immediate needs.
    Fortunately, this was a scenario that took place in a village that is an Infantry Immersion Trainer here. It was part of a Combined Joint Training Exercise, over a three-day Battle Training Assembly weekend, hosted by the 426th Civil Affairs Battalion based in Upland, California, a U.S. Army Reserve unit, subordinate to the U.S. Army Civil Affair & Psychological Operations Command (Airborne).
    The exercise included service members with the 301st Psychological Operations Company, Upland, California; Canadian soldiers and airmen from Toronto, Ontario; Observer Controller Trainers from the 1004th Civil Affairs/Psychological Operations Training Company, Encino, California.; and OC/T’s from the 75th Training Division, Camp Parks, California.
    “Ultimately this exercise is an opportunity for Canadian and U.S. soldiers to focus on interoperability for airborne and Civil Affairs operations,” said Capt. Jason Parker, 426th operations officer. “One important aspect of this [exercise] was we deployed an entire Civil Affairs Battalion, along with allied partners and external organizations. Capt. Bradley Fong, 426th Civil Affairs Planning Team chief, headed up the team who created the scenario and coordinated the Civil Military Operations Center and Civil Information Management training that took place. “What we wanted to see out of this training was the CMOC’s ability to conduct CIM to be able to collate information, conduct relevant analysis, develop a common operating picture, and report this in a timely manner,’ said Fong. “What I have seen that I am most proud of is that, as this is the first time that this has been trained, our companies are immediately identifying their own capability gaps and addressing them as the operation progresses.”

    Staff Sgt. Joshua Fardyce is a PSYOP Detachment Sgt. for the CA/PSYOP Training Company. The purpose of this unit is to train other units and prepare them for their missions. They work as OCTs for the National Training Center and other training environments such as this one.
    Fardyce said, “I think things are going pretty well, especially having the opportunity to work with the Canadian partner forces, learning their capabilities and learning how we can work together to accomplish the mission.”
    Maj. Graham Bye, part of the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry Regiment (RHLI), is the commander of a newly formed Influence Activities company in the RHLI. Influence Activities is the Canadian equivalent of our Civil Affairs. In the past, each of 3 brigades of the Canadian Army’s 4th Division (located in central Canada) had one IA Company made up of Soldiers who rotated in for three years to serve as an IA Soldier. In the new centralized IA Company, Soldiers will likely be assigned permanently and will rotate between IA and light Infantry roles in the RHLI. The unit is also trying to move the IA training classes from a central Battle School to their unit. To attend this exercise the IA Soldiers piggy-backed on The Queen’s Own Rifles Regiment, who jointly planed the exercise with US Forces, and whose paratroopers also participated in the Civil Affairs portion of the exercise.
    Bye said that “It was a huge benefit to work with our U.S. brothers, because Canada will always be working in coalitions. Interoperability is key with allies. All operations will have Civil Affairs responsibilities.” Bye added that it was great to work with and observe U.S. Army Civil Affairs Soldiers and he hopes to be able to invite the 426th Soldiers to come to Canada and work with them in a few years as the new company becomes established.
    Several Canadian Regiments were represented at this training. Members of the Royal Canadian Regiment (RCR), The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada (QOR of C), Lorne Scots Regiment, 33 Combat Engineer Regiment, Lincoln and Welland Regiment, Governor General’s Foot Guards, Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery and Royal Hamilton Light Infantry Regiment all sent Soldiers to participate in the exercise.
    Along with the CMOC/CIM training, a Staff training exercise occurred as well. Maj. JohnPaul Le Cedre, Executive Officer of the 426th, serving under the Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Anthony Leyva, was the Chief of Staff of the Theater Operations Center for the STAFFEX. At this level we would be planning Civil Affairs Operations at the two-star command level, explained Le Cedre. He went on to say that they would conduct division level mission analysis involving all key staff sections, including the Chaplain, and from this they would develop an operations plan. Instructors from the 75th Training Division were in attendance to act as external evaluators for the STAFFEX.
    Le Cedre said, “The most important thing we wanted to happen is to have our staff understand their part within the battalion planning process in addition to day to day activities. Our staff stepped up and applied what they have learned in their Professional Military Education courses to ready themselves for our upcoming real-world missions.”
    The training also included airborne operations with Canadian jumpmasters and parachute instructors from The Queen’s Own Rifles Regiment of Canada (and aircraft from the 436th Squadron of the Royal Canadian Air Force, from 8th Wing Trenton, Quinte West, Ontario, Canada. Paratroopers attended a refresher course with Canadian jumpmasters and jumped with Canadian parachutes, with 75 American airborne Soldiers receiving Canadian Paratroopers’ Wings.
    Lt. Col. Sandi Banerjee, Commanding Officer, The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada Canadian Armed Forces, was very pleased with the exercise and said, “The exercise was an excellent opportunity to test our TTP's [tactics, techniques and procedures]and interoperability skills with forces we are likely to find ourselves deployed with in the future. The fact that we moved two units by C-130J 9000 km, linked up with US Forces that we had never trained with, conducted a parachute insertion into a notional operating theatre and were able to conduct Civil Affairs and PsyOps training in the US Marine Corps Infantry Simulation Trainer so quickly speaks to the professionalism of our forces and bodes well for future ops. Kudos to the Ops staff on both sides who brought this together, and to 8 Wing Trenton and the Canadian Army Advanced Warfare Centre who supported the para insertion.”



    Date Taken: 11.18.2016
    Date Posted: 03.22.2017 16:45
    Story ID: 227767
    Location: CAMP PENDLETON, CA, US 

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