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    Atterbury hosts civilian training for Afghanistan operations

    Atterbury hosts civilian training for Afghanistan operations

    Photo By Sgt. William Hill | Provincial reconstruction team members meet with local province official to address...... read more read more



    Story by Sgt. Rob Cooper 

    Camp Atterbury Public Affairs

    CAMP ATTERBURY, Ind. — Federal employees from around the U.S. representing various departments are currently being trained here alongside their military counterparts in preparation for deployment to Afghanistan.

    As part of a broader focus of operations in Afghanistan designed to include both military and civilian assets, more than 20 civilians from USAID, USDA and the U.S. State Department began an eight-day mission readiness exercise here Monday designed to build better cohesion, coordination and increased safety among their military counterparts.

    The civilians, along with approximately 1,200 Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen, are scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan this summer as 12 individual provincial reconstruction teams after their training concludes at Atterbury. With a recent national policy shift to include a more unified approach among U.S. National Forces operating in Afghanistan, the PRT's will work to improve security, economic development, and stronger local governance throughout the nation's multiple provinces.

    "These civilians are an integral part of the operations in Afghanistan," said Jim Hanley, USAID's project manager for the civilian PRT training at Atterbury. "The idea behind these teams is to increase stabilization in Afghanistan beyond our military forces. In most of the places these civilians need to go to in Afghanistan, there's no security. They can't go out to these locations alone, but working and training with the military gives us the ability to go to these undeveloped places and work to improve the local populace."

    The training being received by the federal employees is part of a three-week block of courses that all service members receive prior to deployment, which includes classes such as combat lifesaving, cultural awareness, weapons and equipment familiarization, and tactics training, to name a few. The training culminates into an eight-day exercise, designed to test the PRT's by utilizing Atterbury's immersive, realistic training environment, which includes multiple training scenarios that each team must collectively accomplish before deploying.

    Mark Philbrook, the deputy training officer with the 189th Infantry Brigade, said that embedding civilians with their military partners for training increases the chances of successful operations once they arrive in theater.

    "The benefit of having these civilians train with the military is the fact that we're bringing continuity and relationships to bear," Philbrook said. "The networking capabilities increase and allow a greater resource pool in which to draw from."

    Philbrook added that the development of good relationships between multiple government agencies early on will filter out the possibility of weak cohesion once they are conducting operations overseas. "It really allows us the advantage of not beginning from ground zero as future leaders filter in and out of theater," he said.

    Although training civilians for PRT missions aren't new to the 189th, this is the first time the PRT training is being conducted at Camp Atterbury. Col. Barry Richmond, the deputy commander for the Camp Atterbury-Muscatatuck Center for Complex Operations, said that Atterbury's multiple inner-agency and nongovernmental partnerships allow a wide range of facilities and training opportunities for the PRT mission.

    "We have been designing our capabilities to support [PRT training], and the idea is that when you come here for training, you're receiving a greater depth than you would from just one installation," he said. "Rather, you're drawing from our strategic partnerships."

    These partnerships include a consortium of other agencies, businesses, government departments and even higher-learning institutes such as Purdue University. For members of the PRT's, training locations include Atterbury and the Muscatatuck Urban Training Center, Richmond said, which are designed to create the most realistic training environment possible.

    So far, the cooperative training between PRT civilians and military members have been both successful and relevant, said Navy Lt. James Bowen, an engineer with PRT Ghazni.

    "The training has been going well, and everyone seems to be learning from one another," he said. "From the military side, it gives us a greater knowledge of our civilians partners' capabilities, how they can help with the mission, and how we can help them accomplish it. Personally, it's given me a greater understanding of our civilian counterparts and we can work together to better achieve our desired goals of helping the Afghan government and people trough our reconstruction efforts."

    That sentiment is mutual with Eric Florimon, a USAID field manager with PRT Nangarhar. Since this will be the first time Florimon will travel to Afghanistan with a PRT, he said that the training he is currently receiving here is already paying off.

    "When partnering with the military, you need to understand their culture and meld it with your own," Florimon said. "Being out here [training with] them is key to understanding that, as well as learning that mutual respect that brings about a successful mission. It allows me to see all the details, so now I know all the nuts and bolts of what they are doing to protect us."



    Date Taken: 06.11.2009
    Date Posted: 06.11.2009 18:18
    Story ID: 34920
    Location: CAMP ATTERBURY, IN, US 

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