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NEWS | June 18, 2018

Army Reserve Soldiers assist with crisis management planning at Saber Strike 18

By Spc. Daisy Zimmer 221st Public Affairs Detachment

U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers with Charlie Company, 457th Civil Affairs Battalion, and Soldiers with 2d Cavalry Regiment, met with local leaders from the Red Cross and municipal crisis management committee to review crisis response plans in Marijampolė and Vilkaviškis, Lithuania, June 7-8 in support of U.S. Army Europe's exercise Saber Strike 18.

The purpose of these engagements was to determine the role of different organizations in the event of a crisis, help these entities identify gaps in their crisis management plans, and identify where civil affairs could assist with closing those gaps. 

The role of C/457 CA BN during Saber Strike is to present commanders with a broader picture of the battle space. While they might not always have an immediate role in the tactical scenario, civil affairs plays a major role by giving insights on 2CR's training on the civilian populace. 

“War is not as simple as people think,” said William Schlotzhauer, team chief with C/457. “We need to… mitigate the impact of conflict on that civilian population, and, to the benefit of the commander, mitigate impact from the civilian population on his movement and maneuver as well.”

C/457 based out of Wackernheim, Germany, and 2CR based out of Vilseck, Germany, met the Marijampolė Red Cross secretary, Dalia Bakutiene, to gain insight into the organization’s capabilities, limitations and relationship with other relief organizations in Lithuania. 

The team continued the crisis management discussion with Vitas Gavėnas, the Municipal Administrative Director of Vilkaviškis, to discuss the current crisis management plan and learn what exercises the city has scheduled to educate its residents.

The topics converged during a larger meeting with the Red Cross and the Marijampolė crisis management committee, where C/457 Soldiers led the conversation with bridging the gap in communication between different organizations to help them build a better crisis management plan for local citizens. 

“It’s intelligent to be prepared,” said Schlotzhauer to the committee.

The civil affairs team’s recommended actions included growing relationships with transportation and logistics companies, obtaining supplies and volunteers, continuing to educate the public, and reaching out to other municipalities to balance strengths and limitations. 

All three engagements were facilitated by Pvt. Brigita Kymanwtaite, a civil-military cooperation soldier assigned to 801st Company, Lithuanian National Defense Volunteer Forces. 

Kymanwtaite assisted C/457 by translating crisis management plans, scheduling meetings, briefing the Soldiers on local information and serving as the linguist during meetings to ensure all attendees were able to communicate. 

“It’s always great to see [the CIMIC] perspective and how they approach problems,” said Schlotzhauer. “Whether culturally, or how their doctrine functions differently than ours, one hundred percent of the time it enhances our mission.” 

“I’m really enjoying it, to work with professional people” said Kymanwtaite. “I think I’ll learn a lot from this exercise.” 

Conducting assessments of local crisis management plans will provide crucial information for 2CR, not only to navigate Saber Strike 18, but to become familiar with local emergency response procedures and to create relationships with local civil authorities in Lithuania as well. 

“The rapport that [C/457] is building with these leaders is going to help 2CR ensure the local populace is confident that NATO is strong, agile, and ready to deter aggression,” said Capt. John Cappiello, civil affairs advisor for 2CR. “They are a hard working group of civil affairs professionals.” 

457th CA BN falls under 361st CA BDE, located in Kaiserslautern, Germany, which is the U.S. Army Reserve's only forward deployed multifunctional civil affairs unit in Europe providing civil affairs; movement control; human resource; chemical, biological, nuclear and radiological; public affairs and forward engineering support to U.S. Army Europe.

Saber Strike is a long-standing U.S. Army Europe-led cooperative training exercise that helps facilitate cooperation amongst the U.S., Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and 19 other allied and partner nations.