FORT STEWART, Ga. - The home of the Third Infantry Division is making way for a new battalion - the 82nd Civil Affairs Battalion.
The battalion falls under the 85th Civil Affairs Brigade, United States Forces Command's only active duty CA Brigade.
The brigade, based out of Fort Hood, Texas consists of five battalions with each battalion oriented on a specific geographic region.
"This battalion, 82nd Civil Affairs Battalion, is going to be focused on AFRICOM (Africa Command)," said Lt. Col. Michael Oliver, 82nd CA Bn. Commander. "Our major engagements will be through the Army service component command, USARAF (U.S. Army Africa), in Italy."
Lieutenant Colonel Oliver stated that even though other dialects will be taught, the primary target language for the 82nd CA Bn. Soldiers is French.
"Our Civil Affairs Soldiers provide that bridging capability between the U.S. military and the civilian populace within a given area of operation," he said. "They are the cultural experts on any given area. Our Soldiers will be experts on particular countries within the AFRICOM region."
After going through a rigorous and stringent selection and training process, the Soldiers selected to be part of the Civil Affairs Branch continue intensive training courses to optimize their linguistic and cultural capabilities.
"Our Civil Affairs operators have to be a little bit more mature because of the environments that we work in," said 1st Sgt. Rob Nicholson, currently the 82nd CA Bn. senior NCO. "We also represent not just our teams or our [Military Occupational Specialty]; we also represent the embassies that we work out of. In some of these countries, there isn't a major military presence. So, we work out of the embassies in some of these countries. We are still trying to develop what some of our roles are going to be; however, traditionally, we work those four-person teams across the globe, and that's where we have to have that maturity level within our individuals."
The battalion's stand-up date is not until Sept. 16.
"Our current status is that we are in two company areas," said Lt. Col. Oliver, "getting ready to move into our permanent facilities down in the 700 block roughly around the March/April timeframe."
As the 82nd CA Bn. are preparing to activate this fall, their sister battalion, the 83rd CA Bn. are making way to stand-up at the same time in Fort Bragg, N.C.
In 2013, two more battalions are scheduled to activate under the 85th CA Bde. The 80th CA Bn. will stand-up at Joint Base Lewis-McChord and the 84th CA. Bn. at Fort Bliss, Texas.