FORT BENNING, GA – Under the theme of Civil-Mil Integration & Cooperation in a volatile environment, members of the current Inter-Agency Crisis Action Planning (IACAP) course held a leadership panel at WHINSEC August 10, 2021.
Invited speakers were COL (RET) Christopher Holshek, Ms. Linda Woestendiek, USSOUTHCOM J45 Engineers, and LTC Diego L. Becerra, director of WHINSEC's Center for Faculty and Staff Development.
Holshek is a retired U.S. Army Civil Affairs officer with over three decades of civil-military conflict management experience at multiple levels and settings across the full range of operations. During his remarks, he talked about Civil-Military Coordination (CIMIC) and how it is a continuous dialogue in problem-solving, innovation, and expectations management, regardless of type of operation. Its ultimate aim of enable civilian-led peacebuilding. Furthermore, he talked about CIMIC being inherently strategic, even at tactical levels. The ultimate goal is binding the three major service components (civilian, police, and military) as a sense of public service to their constituents.
“This leadership panel was an excellent opportunity to increase our knowledge listening to the panelist experiences, who displayed a vast knowledge of their respective subject areas, said IACAP student, Hector de Sedas, Deputy Commissioner Panamá National Border Service (SENAFRONT). I am leaving with vital points from the exhibitions, such as understanding the holistic vision of the role of the civilians and police forces in the civil-military operations within our countries. This panel discussion is encouraging us to share more experiences during multinational operations or with other countries in our region,” he added.
Woestendiek is an Environmental Specialist at US Southern Command with 20 years of experience in environmental management, infrastructure development, and construction. Her Environmental Security focus has been on coordinating the process development of related programs with environmental impacts – such as institutional and national security (partner nation and the U.S.), humanitarian assistance, plans and operations, and counterterrorism. During her presentation, she talked about environmental security - defined as security challenges and opportunities arising from changes to the environment at local, regional, or global scale; and how SOUTHCOM, through its lines of effort of strengthening partnerships, countering threats; and building teams is working with our allies, partner nations, and USG team members to enhance security and defend US homeland and our national interests.
Colombian Military Forces General Command Civil and Military Relations Officer, Major Jason L Niño Velandia was very impressed with all speakers.
“Very eloquent presentations. Holshek shared his experiences in the areas of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. I want to learn more about lessons learned during those events by the US Army. Mrs. Linda talked about the importance of the environment. I would like for her to further educate us and point us to what is required to educate our population in the management and conservation of resources, be it water or the environment. And I believe that by educating our military forces we can conserve the environment and we can function as forest rangers in the future,” said Niño.
Becerra, director of WHINSEC’s Center for Faculty and Staff Development, talked about his experiences as an officer on ground zero during the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. He spoke about the coordination amongst civil and military entities at local, state, and federal levels. The lessons learned, the importance of knowing the capacities of the teams, and equipment you might need during a crisis. Knowing these capabilities is key on the planning and deployment phases.
Mexican Army Dental Surgeon Captain Guadalupe Reyes Santibañez found all three presented subjects of great interest.
Reyes said, “The impact on natural resources and pollution to the environment is of extreme importance to me. We must be aware of what is happening today. It is important to emphasize the grain of sand that we must continue to place as humans and, more importantly, as a nation to save and rescue our planet. I would like to know what actions we should take to improve or stop the effects on the environment.”
“I liked the relationship that exists in civil-military actions where civilian personnel intervene, along with military personnel. It is worth emphasizing that we carry out exercises similar to the ones we have seen here in class in my country. By sharing knowledge we can have better achievements in the operations that we carry out for the benefit of our country or any country that we are supporting,” she added.
On August 19, the IACAP students will join fellow students from the Small Unit Leader Course; the Cadet Leadership Development Course; and the Medical Assistance Course at a combined graduation to be held by WHINSEC.