NOVO SELO, Bulgaria - Soldiers of 361st Civil Affairs Brigade completed annual training by supporting exercise Saber Guardian 17, July 8 to 22.

The brigade tested their capabilities in a forward deployed setting to establish command and control over civil affairs operations across Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria while being evaluated by observer-coach/trainers from U.S. Civil Affairs & Psychological Operations Command.

"This is the first of this magnitude where [civil affairs] made movement across Europe," said Sgt. Donald Patterson, Civil Affairs Team Sergeant with Delta Company, 457th Civil Affairs Battalion, in Grafenwehor, Germany.

I see how in the real world how it all comes together, said Spc. Anissa West, Civil Affairs Specialist with D/457, who recently completed her qualification course. SG17 is her first civil affairs mission.

"I feel like I would have been less prepared had I not gone to school."

361st CA BDE had oversight of over 100 civil affairs engagements conducted during the exercise that supporting 2nd Cavalry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, 30th Medical Brigade, and 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division. The civil affairs teams interacted with local mayors, regional governors and members of host nation parliaments.

Other U.S. Army civil affairs units conducting operations assigned to 361st CA BDE during SG17 included 457th CA BN from Grafenwoehr, Germany; 443rd Civil Affairs Battalion from Newport, RI; and 404th Civil Affairs Battalion (Airborne) from Fort Dix, NJ. USACAPOC sent 22 observer-coach/trainers to evaluate civil affairs operations during the exercise.

Patterson acknowledges working with Civil-Military Cooperation partners was important to the success of civil affairs operations.

"The relationship with [our CIMIC partners] was very good from the very beginning," Patterson said. " They are very open about their job so we can come to an understanding very fast on what we need to accomplish together."

Capt. Tigean Mikaelian, Civil Affairs Team Leader with D/457, believes he could not complete his mission without his teammates who include Patterson and West.

"Each member is critical and each member learns the jobs of others as part of training and development," Mikaelian said. "Secondly we can use this to back up each other in case that it's needed."

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Exercise Saber Guardian 17, a U.S. Army Europe-led, multinational exercise, took place in Bulgaria, Hungary, and Romania July 11 to 20, 2017.

SG17 was larger in both scale and scope over previous iterations. Approximately 25,000 service members from 22 allied and partner nations took part, and the exercise highlighted participant deterrence capabilities, specifically the ability to mass forces at any given time anywhere in Europe.

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361st CA BDE, located in Kaiserslautern, Germany, is the U.S. Army Reserve's only forward deployed civil affairs unit in Europe providing civil affairs support to USAREUR.