News: Civil Affairs teams strengthen diplomat proficiency
Story by Staff Sgt. David House
FORT HOOD, Texas - Cheers and applause filled the air as the ribbon is cut to open a new health clinic. It might have been a simulated medical clinic, but the training behind it was very much real as members of the 81st Civil Affairs Battalion spent a week honing their skills during a battalion Field Training Exercise at the Hargrove Military Operation in Urban Terrain Facility, Aug. 13 to 17.
“Our FTX has been designed to focus on [downrange] scenarios in which teams encounter a variety of situations to further enhance their operating procedures” said Capt. Jeffrey Chase, Company D, 81st Civil Affairs Battalion, 85th Civil Affairs Brigade. “The unexpected surprises, which were deliberately written into each scenario based on past experiences, helped keep us on our toes.”
Some of the scenarios that the Civil Affairs soldiers encountered included key leader engagements, project management, react to enemy contact and improvised explosive devices as well as casualty response and evacuation.
One unexpected surprise during the event was the insertion of reporters on the battlefield. Knowing how to adapt to their presence was a key thing on the minds of many.
“The media is something that I thought I knew but this really showed us all that we need to be aware of who else is on the battlefield,” said Capt. Stephanie Downard, 81st Civil Affairs Battalion team leader. “Learning about it now is better than down the road while deployed.”
The ever presence of media to include social media has revolutionized not only the way conflicts are reported but the way conflicts actually begin and ultimately end. But to be successful all falls back on ones training and proper planning.
“Planning,” Staff Sgt. Joe Perez, Delta Company, 81st Civil Affairs Battalion, stated. “Whenever you get a good mission, plan to have unlimited courses of action for each mission as that can only help you as anything can happen.”
“Being out here at this event helped expose our weaknesses on what we needed to train on as well acknowledging our strengths in coming together as teams” said Perez. “This opened our eyes on what we can achieve as a team.”
The weeklong field exercise not only showed them their capabilities as a Warrior Diplomat and as a Civil Affairs Team, but gave them a clearer picture of what needs to be strengthened in order to prepare for the inevitable as a unit.
“Having been deployed before I have experienced similar events that we dealt with today and it is very realistic for our teams,” Chase said. “Additionally, I would like to see our teams be able to interact with infantry and armor units so that they can learn to embed themselves with them and for the maneuver units to learn what we, as civil affairs, do while on a mission.”
This field training exercise was just one of many that the 81st CA Battalion has participated in and is the prelude to the upcoming 85th Civil Affairs Brigade Culmination Exercise or CULFEX scheduled for the month of September.