FORT BRAGG, N.C. -- Soldiers are expected to perform a variety of missions if called upon,
sometimes in the worst situations. Leading reconstruction projects and supporting relief efforts
after a natural disaster are some of the key duties of civil affairs Soldiers.
Sometimes these missions require the Soldiers to serve as the link between civilian and government agencies. With this in mind, Fort Bragg troops assigned to Company B, 83rd Civil Affairs Battalion, 20th Engineer Brigade recently linked up with Halifax County, N.C. emergency management leadership Oct. 24.
Bringing a wealth of knowledge and experience in emergency preparedness to Halifax County leaders, the Soldiers reviewed the county's emergency response plans at the Halifax Regional Medical Center. The center's location near Interstate 95 makes it an ideal location to treat patients in the event of a large-scale emergency in North Carolina.
"We (civil affairs Soldiers) are integrating with Halifax County Emergency Management in order to learn how they respond to various responses and emergencies," said Capt. Kyle Staron, the officer in-charge of the civil affairs team.
As fate may have it, Hurricane Matthew ripped through the state just weeks before the pre-planned training. Lessons learned from the storm facilitated some conversation between the Soldiers, who call themselves "warrior diplomats," and the emergency response workers. However, there were many areas Soldiers had to familiarize themselves with in order to best serve and learn about the Halifax County's capabilities.
Soldiers toured the medical center to analyze its emergency casualty care operations, engineering and logistic support and disaster aid operations in order to gain a better understanding of the hospital, and offer quality feedback on existing plans. Among the most important elements of the information exchange between civilian and military elements was telling each other of their specific capabilities and equipment.
"The military has a lot of assets and resources that a lot of cities and counties don't have, and if a disaster or an emergency exceeds the capability of counties and municipalities, it's imperative that they know that the military has those capabilities," said Staron.
Buddy Wrenn is the emergency management coordinator for Halifax County. It's Wrenn's job to ensure his county is ready during a contingency situation. He noted the importance of partnering with other government agencies to ensure the care of citizens in his community.
"Being a rural county, the monetary aspects are not as well placed as some of the metropolitan counties," explained Wrenn. "What we lack there, we can make up for in training and preparedness with our first responders and the Army."
"This is a symbiotic relationship where both parties can obtain some needed information,
and possibly delineate some gaps in our capabilities," said Wrenn.
Throughout the training, the importance of interoperability between military and civilian agencies was stressed. Staron, the civil affairs team leader, emphasized the importance of working with civilian-led organizations to his unit's assigned missions.
"This is absolutely necessary and vital, not just here in the United States but abroad," said Staron.