USARAF Chaplains Combat and Operational Stress Control Program

Friday June 8, 2012

What is it?

The U.S. Army Africa (USARAF) Chaplains' Combat and Operational Stress Control (COSC) program develops the capability of African military chaplains to identify signs and symptoms, and utilize non-therapeutic techniques in prevention or management of Combat and Operational Stress Response. With a growing number of African militaries actively engaged in support of peacekeeping operations or seeking to build capability in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, there is a growing awareness of the effects of significant stressors on Soldiers.

In many African militaries behavioral health capabilities are minimal. Chaplains are often at the forefront as care providers to Soldiers and families, and are thus obvious candidates for developing these skill sets in addition to medical/behavioral health providers. USARAF chaplains collaborated with their counterparts at the U.S. Army Medical Department Center and School to receive COSC education to develop a program to be adapted by African militaries according to culture and need.

What has the Army done?

USARAF piloted its COSC program through a military-to-military engagement with the National Defense Force of Burundi (BNDF). BNDF has a significant involvement in the African Union [peacekeeping] Mission to Somalia and has noted significant stress response among its deploying Soldiers. In December 2011, a USARAF Chaplain Traveling Contact Team (TCT) conducted a COSC Symposium with 30 BNDF chaplains, behavioral health providers and nurses from each of Burundi's military regions. Participants developed skill sets to be used to mitigate stress-related issues throughout the deployment cycle, and can be transferred to leaders across the BNDF. Other African militaries continue to express interest in developing this capability as well.

USARAF chaplains also provided mentorship to their BNDF counterparts on developing capability as staff officers, enabling more effective integration into the military staff process. This event also paved the way for a subsequent TCT engagement in April 2012 for a U.S. Army Chaplain Marriage and Family Therapist to assist care providers in developing their professional skills in counseling BNDF soldiers and family members in other issues related to deployment.

What continued efforts does the Army have planned for the future?

USARAF Chaplains plan to use the COSC program in future military-to-military events in Africa, as well as engagements on related or subsequent issues, like Marriage and Family Counseling, Deployment Cycle Support, Professionalization of Military Chaplaincies, and Advisement of Command on Professional Ethics.

Why is this important to the Army?

Engagements like these build readiness of African peacekeeping soldiers and their families, thus increasing effectiveness of peacekeeping operations. In turn, it ensures regional stability and security. These Chaplain events also open doors for a variety of future engagements, cultivating a growing partnership and cooperation between the U.S. and its African partners.


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