By Staff Sgt. Kathleen V. PolancoMarch 16, 2017
Grafenwoehr, Germany (March 16, 2017) -- A US Army Reserve unit traveled over 4,000 miles directly to enhance interoperability training for their civil affairs assets.
Bravo Company, 407th Civil Affairs Battalion from Arden Hills, Minnesota, participates in the 7th Army Training Command's multinational exercise, Allied Spirit VI, held at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels Training Area, March 8-31, 2017.
The civil affairs specialists in Bravo Company can enhance their civil affairs knowledge, tactics and techniques by applying their civilian skillsets in this training exercise while working alongside allied and partnered nations.
The overall objective for the exercise is to conduct multinational Unified Land Operations to promote interoperability and integration of multinational Allies and partners.
What the civil affairs unit can bring to the exercise is to give the commander a better understanding of the civil operating picture.
"We're the liaison between the civilian population and the military," said Cpt. Bismarck Vergara, the civil military operations center team chief.
"Additionally we minimize the impact of military operations on the civilians in the operating area and support the military operating by minimizing the civilian impact on our operations," said Staff Sgt. Nate Mitcavish, a civil management noncommissioned officer.
Military operations can assist civilians with access to basic needs like food and water by using available resources such the local Red Cross.
"We wouldn't necessarily try to duplicate their efforts," said Mitcavish. "We would try to identify what they are doing and if we can assist them."
Military operations also assist civilians with their protections that are due under the Geneva Conventions and national agreements.
Civilian impacts on military operations can include impeding the movement of troops, hindering fires effectiveness and the consideration of protected targets like churches, schools and hospitals.
Civil affairs role is to bring to light that there is a civil side of war. They're responsible for providing guidance to the commander on his or her legal and moral obligations as well as how to work with local partners.
Now what makes a reserve unit like the 407th CA Bn so special is that they can apply their civilian skillsets towards their job as civil affairs specialists in the military.
"There's a lot of different backgrounds here such as a veterinarian, a USDA food inspector, a police officer or two," said Mitcavish. "The list of civilian skills we bring are varied, those are just a few."
In regard to the spectrum of military operations, most active duty civil affairs is focused on the conventional side of warfare whereas reserve civil affairs focuses primarily on civilian operations.
Allied Spirit VI not only provides an opportunity for the reserve unit to apply their skillsets, but also to work alongside NATO's Civil-Military Co-operation (CIMIC) assets.
CIMIC is an important capability for military commanders to use to interact with numerous civilian entities in theater.
"CIMIC is more about peacekeeping where civil affairs is more about peacemaking," said Mitcavish. "Making the situation and the operating environment good for stability. Once it's at a certain level, we can withdraw."
There are similarities and differences among the two civil assets, which they are able to share during the exercise.
"What we can exchange is our interoperability when conducting key leader engagements and humanitarian assistance operations through conversations with our partners," said Mitcavish. "We can get an understanding of how they do peacekeeping, conducting troop movement and the varying basic soldiering skills. It helps our Soldiers to become better civil affairs specialists."