Civil Affairs Soldiers Prepare for Afghan Mission
May 7, 2010
By Ryan Morton
- Soldiers from the 431st Civil Affairs Battalion are currently at ASA-Dix preparing to help rebuild the infrastructure of Afghanistan.
- Soldiers will help facilitate a number of humanitarian efforts, including clean drinking water, medical care and rebuilding schools.
- The 431st Civil Affairs Battalion, A Company, is located out of Little Rock, Ark.
- About half of the Soldiers have already partaken in some form of civil affairs mission in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Soldiers from the 431st Civil Affairs Battalion, A Company are currently at Army Support Activity-Dix preparing to help rebuild the infrastructure of Afghanistan.
"We will work to help facilitate the rebuilding of schools, transportation, legitimate agricultural businesses, clean drinking water and medical care, and supporting various humanitarian efforts in the area as needed," said Maj. Benjamin Hastings, El Dorado, Ark., native and 431st CA Bn., A Company commander.
Hastings understands the importance of meeting the basic needs of the population at hand.
"The civil military operations help to keep the numbers [of possible insurgents] down because we'll support their causes, and therefore give them less reason to want to join [the insurgency]," he said.
His unit will help provide humanitarian relief and assistance through various avenues such as the Commander's Emergency Relief Program, which gives leadership the authority and access to various funds to respond to urgent humanitarian relief concerns without going through bureaucratic procedures.
"What we strive to do is get the governmental support for the needy working. We sometimes provide it through CERP or use non-governmental organizations to support humanitarian missions," said Hastings.
This is an Army Reserve organization from Little Rock, Ark., with 32 Soldiers, about half of which have conducted civil affairs missions in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. According to Hastings, having these experienced veterans in his ranks is extremely important.
"The most common theme from those who have deployed is that it's prepared them and their families for the ups and downs of a deployment. They end up being more relaxed because they understand what's required and what to expect before they get there," said Hastings.
The 431st CA Bn., A Company will continue to train at ASA-Dix until around mid-May when they will deploy to Afghanistan.