457th Civil Affairs Battalion trains with Romanian Soldiers
July 22, 2010
HOHENFELS, Germany-- In remote villages of Afghanistan, it is difficult for the population to obtain food, water, medical supplies, and other items essential for survival. One of the roles of Civil Affairs is to move into these areas, assess the needs, and restore the infrastructure necessary to deliver these items. On the training grounds of the Joint Multinational Readiness Center here, Civil Affairs Soldiers gain the advantage of going through realistic scenarios to prepare them for these missions.
A four- man civil affairs team consisting of 7th CSC Soldiers from Headquarters Headquarters Company and C Company, 457th Civil Affairs Battalion, 361st Civil Affairs Brigade, Kaiserslautern and Wiesbaden, Germany, conducted tactical civil affairs training with Romanian Soldiers from 1 - 11 June 2010. The training was designed to prepare the Romanians for a tour in Afghanistan later this year.
"The way the U.S. Army does civil affairs is new to the Romanians and we've been working together to learn each other's approaches," said Captain Dan Miller, the civil affairs team chief.
"This was a great mission for both countries, the units involved, and for the 7th CSC. I look forward to participating in more rotations," said Miller.
One thing both countries share is the goal behind what they do, to ensure those in need know that civil affairs is there to assist them.
"Civil affairs Soldiers are in a war for the hearts and minds of the Afghan people, to show them that U.S. forces are there to help rather than to solely perform combat-based operations," said Staff Sgt. James Hazlett, the civil affairs team sergeant.
"We taught them about key-leader engagement; how different projects that help improve the village economy and infrastructure will help to build trust with the locals," said Hazlett. "We want the Afghans to see us as partners."
The civil affairs team walked the Romanian Soldiers through different training scenarios, including a mock humanitarian aid mission.
"The Romanian version of civil affairs operations is night and day different from ours," said Hazlett. "They have a different mindset, and they focus more on security issues than actually engaging the local population."
To accomplish their mission, it is a priority for civil affairs units to gain the trust of the locals. Hazlett said that civil affairs Soldiers don't go into green zones, or zones known to have no immediate threat while wearing full battle rattle and carrying loaded weapons, "because you want the locals to know you feel safe and you're there to help."
"The 7th CSC Soldiers really added value to the training," said Capt. Antonio Perez, a Timberwolves Observer Controller-Trainer (OC-T) here.
The HHC and C Company Civil Affairs Team embedded with the Romanians and stayed with them day and night throughout the training exercises.
"Being embedded allowed them to develop a different relationship with the Romanians than that of the OC-Ts," said Perez. "These guys were a great asset to us and the Romanians."
The team worked through difficulties such as language barriers to create an effective partnership with the Romanian soldiers. "Overall, working with the Romanians has been a great experience," said Hazlett. "They are a great bunch of people to work with."