FORT CARSON, Colo. – Fort Carson community members may not know it, but a group of Army reservists gather at a relatively modern building on the post’s south side once a month.
In what’s known to them as a battle assembly, close to 200 reservists will meet each month to train, conduct exercises and perfect their craft in preparation for deployments on the other side of the world.
Activated in 2012, the 440th Civil Affairs Battalion, 364th Civil Affairs Brigade, is one of the Mountain Post’s tenant units. It’s part of U.S. Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command (Airborne), a special operations unit whose members work closely in partnership with other government agencies or militaries of allied nations.
“People can think of us as sort of the Army’s diplomats,” said Col. Christopher Creaghe, commander 364th Civil Affairs Brigade. “Soldiers in the 440th (CA Bn.), focus most of their time in the Indo-Pacific area of operations, building civil governance and being the Army’s conduit to civilian governments, non-governmental organizations (NGO) and local populations.”
Unit Soldiers will support brigade combat teams while they are deployed or during exercises — either small exercises or the large named exercises that occur periodically. They also support U.S. embassies in multiple locations. While its Soldiers call Fort Carson home, they train extensively in the systems and cultures of Southeast Asia, as well as the western and central pacific areas.
Typically, unit members deploy in four-person teams to locations such as Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines, to name a few, and they are specialized in one of several skill areas such as law, medical, law enforcement, finance, engineering, veterinarian, linguistics and education, among many others.
“It’s exciting work,” Creaghe said. “Our teams bring those skill sets to bare in order to help out combatant commanders as well as our embassies.”
Lt. Col. Diana Parzik, commander 440th CA Bn., for instance, travels to Fort Carson regularly, but lives and works in the Washington, D.C., area for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Like many of her battalion teammates, she is a former active-duty Soldier who wanted to continue serving, but on her own terms. She said the Reserves and civil affairs have made that possible for many former active-duty Soldiers.
“I was active duty for seven years (as an environmental science officer), and I didn’t have much control over what my next job was going to be,” she said. “My passion stemmed from two deployments to Honduras where we worked with NGOs to build houses across Honduras. I saw the good work the military was doing in the places we deployed, and I knew I wanted to continue doing that.”
Parzik explained that for those who are coming off active duty, but still want to serve in some capacity and find fulfilment, Civil Affairs in the Army Reserve could be the answer.
Currently, the unit includes members who live in places like Texas, California, Minnesota, Washington, D.C., and others, but who travel to Fort Carson for their Reserve duty. In the meantime, unit leaders are hoping to draw in new teammates by explaining the unit’s mission, capabilities, flexibility and opportunities.
“Also, if active-duty units have upcoming exercises and training events, and their leaders would like to have the civil affairs piece integrated into their exercise, we would be happy to support them,” Parzik said. “And we can help figure out ways to help with a unit’s training needs.”