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    352nd Civil Affairs Command Supports U.S. Marines in Joint Planning Exercise

    Operation Deep Harbor

    Photo By Maj. Devon McRainey | U.S. Army Reserve Maj. Geoff Tibbetts and Sgt. 1st Class Malcolm Flanders conduct...... read more read more



    Story by Maj. Devon McRainey 

    352nd Civil Affairs Command PAO

    Soldiers and Marines spent months preparing for Operation Deep Harbor, conducting country studies and consulting with the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Agency for International Development, and the International Committee of the Red Cross. Teamed with the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve’s 2nd Civil Affairs Group, the 352nd CACOM’s Civil Affairs Planning Team-Levant supported an exercise at the Marine Corps University's School of Advanced Warfighting (SAW) at Quantico Marine Corps Base, VA. From May 2-11, 2017, the team also developed a two-hour curriculum and reading materials from which SAW students will familiarize themselves with the basics of civil affairs. “In our pre-work, we spent a lot of time understanding and really leveraging our collective expertise from prior deployments, as well as our professional military education regarding civil affairs full-spectrum operations,” said Army Cpt. Kirby Hayes, a CAPT-Levant planner. In order to provide trained and ready civil affairs soldiers to joint force commanders in the Central Command area of responsibility, the 352nd Civil Affairs Command is leaning forward on joint training.

    The joint nature of modern warfare requires both Army and Marine units to focus on interoperability with the other services and allied nations. SAW provides a graduate-level professional military education for selected field-grade officers of the Marine Corps, other services and selected foreign countries. “SAW’s mission is to prepare, over an 11-month period, future leaders, planners, and commanders to be operational artists, to be lead planners and to execute campaigns,” said Marine Col. Wayne Sinclair, SAW’s director. SAW is the Marine Corps’ equivalent of the U.S. Army’s School of Advanced Military Studies, which has a similar mission to educate armed forces members to become agile and adaptive leaders who are critical and creative thinkers.

    Deep Harbor is the final planning exercise in the SAW curriculum in which the students apply everything they have learned during the course. “It's the last of six planning exercises,” said Sinclair. “It's not the longest, but it is the most intense in terms of the products they have to develop and the number of briefs that they provide. There's far less help in this planning exercise than past ones, so it really allows them to put all their skills and experience up to this point into practice in a very challenging scenario.” The rigor of this final planning exercise and the complexity of the topic simulates the reality these planners will face in their next assignments.

    Upon graduation, the students return to the force to become lead planners at their next unit, typically at a two-star general command level or above. “Our primary mission is to produce those lead planners for the Marine Corps, primarily for the Marine Expeditionary Forces and in the Components, the Marine Corps Forces at each Combatant Command,” said Sinclair. The graduates obtain the Marine Corps Military Operational Specialty 0505: Marine Air-Ground Task Force Planner. After their initial three-year tour as a lead planner, many 0505s take a second tour as a planner at the Combatant Command level.

    The final SAW exercise challenged the students to plan a complex, joint military operation with a significant humanitarian context. The class split into two operational planning teams, each embedded with 352nd CACOM CAPT-Levant. Deep Harbor challenged the students to plan for a refugee and internally-displaced person relief operation in the Middle East, establishing notional displaced civilian camps. Students had to develop two courses of action, one with an unlimited force cap, and one with a force limit of 15,000 troops. Given the civil complexities of the operational environment and the humanitarian assistance component of the planning exercise, the subject matter expertise of the reserve civil affairs soldiers from the 352nd CACOM and 2nd CAG was critical to the students’ successful planning. The civil affairs troops “were true experts in the field of civil affairs,” said Marine Maj. Brian Donlon, a SAW student. “They understood their specialty, and they understood the different civil organizations that we as Marines, specifically me as an Infantry officer, are not accustomed to working with.” According to Sinclair, service-to-service interactions in a professional school environment will enable the students to better leverage the capabilities available in the joint force when they move on to plan joint operations at senior levels. “I would point to the functional experts that you have at the CACOM level,” said Donlon. “I don't know how to make a water plant work, but you have people who can educate commanders and staff on how to put things in play to make that happen. So, that depth of available expertise is what I’m really taking away from it.”

    Of particular value to all involved was the civil affairs soldiers’ familiarization with the inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations so prevalent wherever the U.S. military operates today. Regarding his takeaways from the exercise, Hayes said, “I think I would probably lean on the big picture of really identifying how civil affairs injects across the entire spectrum of planning. Also, how important it is to be considerate of thousands of IGOs and NGOs working across the globe that we need to interact with to get to task completion, while we have no control over those folks, and how do we manage that, synchronize that, through relationship building and trust building. I think that's a big ‘aha’ that came out of this.”

    The 352nd CACOM was invited to participate in Deep Harbor for the first time in 2016, and from the success of that collaboration, a partnership was established with SAW. “It's hard to find someone who is interested in the depth of planning that we conduct and has the resilience to stick with it through a two-week planning cycle,” said Sinclair. “By reaching out to the 352nd CACOM, by bringing in some civil affairs soldiers who could spend the time embedded in the OPTs, we thought we would enhance the quality of the training, the education and the products that they produce through the planning process.”

    The 352nd gained invaluable experience during Operation Deep Harbor as well. “The Deep Harbor exercise was superb training for my soldiers,” said Army Col. Katherine Womble, Chief of CAPT-Levant. “Both my NCOs and my officers integrated into the OPTs and were required to demonstrate the relevance of their civil affairs expertise throughout the rigorous planning cycle, while working with highly capable planners who were more familiar and comfortable focusing on all of the other planning requirements – intelligence, command and control, fires, logistics, aviation, engineers, medical, etc. My soldiers had to earn respect, build relationships, communicate effectively and work together with their OPTs through the vast planning challenges. My hope is that we increased the students’ understanding of and willingness to seek civil affairs expertise to deal with the civil complexities that they will inevitably face when planning real-world operations in the future.”

    Including a Marine civil affairs officer from the 2nd CAG in the Deep Harbor exercise was beneficial due to the joint and combined nature of the course, and because that is how civil affairs reservists operate while deployed. “Marine and Army civil affairs share the same mission set as the key point-of-contact for our military commanders to accomplish tasks alongside our non-DOD partners in the interagency and NGO environment,” said Marine Cpt. Samuel Curet, a civil affairs officer from the 2nd CAG. “Leveraging relationships and leveraging techniques across that space is an area where we can always benefit from working together.”

    Of the four military services, only the Marine Corps and the Army possess a civil affairs capability, so having the opportunity to work together during training in a joint environment is extremely valuable. The inherently joint nature of modern warfare requires a focus on interoperability between the services, combined with partner-nation allies, so working together for a planning exercise strengthens the 352nd’s capacity to provide trained and ready civil affairs soldiers to the joint force commander. “I think it was a good exposure for us to the Marine Corps Planning Process,” said Sgt. 1st Class Malcom Flanders, a Planning NCO on CAPT-Levant. “Also, a lot of times we get focused on just the civil affairs piece, but we got to see the whole thing, and it’s good training for actually working on an operational-level staff.”

    The enduring relationship between the SAW, the 352nd CACOM and 2nd CAG exemplifies the importance of factoring the civil dimension into joint operational planning. Everywhere the military operates has civilians and an underlying civil structure, and planners dismiss these aspects at their peril. By integrating civil affairs personnel into their exercise, SAW is ensuring that their graduates are prepared for this critical operational factor when they return to their service or country.

    Support from the 352nd benefits SAW by “providing not just a joint, but a civil affairs perspective on things,” said Sinclair. “Plus, all the other skillsets that the civil affairs community typically has - they have a lot of depth across the spectrum. Coming out of interagency, coming out of other backgrounds, they bring a real richness into SAW that we have taken advantage of for the benefit of the students.” Hayes added that “on-going training opportunities to engage with the Marine Corps and with our interagency partners, like SAW’s Deep Harbor exercise, help the 352nd CACOM stay in that ready mode so that we're always ready to go and execute.” Womble summarized, “The joint partnership that the 352nd CACOM, the 2nd CAG, and MCU SAW continue to develop and strengthen is mutually beneficial as we all strive to be the most effective joint fighting force possible.” Given the success of two years’ collaboration on the Operation Deep Harbor planning exercise, both the SAW and the 352nd CACOM are looking forward to working together in the future.



    Date Taken: 05.09.2017
    Date Posted: 08.16.2017 10:11
    Story ID: 243237

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