CAMP GRAYLING, Michigan –
Soldiers with the 414th Civil Affairs Battalion are spending their summer annual training conducting a pre-validation exercise to prepare themselves for a rotation at the Joint Readiness Training Center next year.
The main focus of the exercise centers on Charlie Company, which would be the first company in the battalion to be selected for a deployment. While Charlie Company is practicing missions and tactical operations the other companies within the 414th CA are supporting in a variety of ways.
“The entire battalion effort is to run them through an exercise that tests their collective individual and team level skills on a number of civil affairs tasks as well as some general expeditionary company operations,” said Maj. James A. Holley, the operations officer for the 414th CA.
Alongside Charlie Company is Alpha Company roleplaying as local civilians in a foreign country, Delta Company acting as the opposition force to Charlie Company, and Headquarters and Headquarters Company taking care of the behind-the-scenes operations necessary to keep a battalion running.
When it comes to the missions assigned to Charlie Company they face a multitude of obstacles. Their Soldiers find themselves in the fictional country of Fordlandia, and they are tasked with assisting the local government in stabilizing control of a province which is experiencing water quality issues, a lack of infrastructure, displaced civilians and attacks from an insurgent group.
“We represent the civilian populace that doesn't have a voice, and we're here to win the hearts and minds of people,” said 1st Lt. Lemuel Montgomery, a Civil Affairs Team Leader in Charlie Company, 414th CA.
Montgomery also described the job of a civil affairs unit as acting a liason between the U.S. Army and the local population of wherever Soldiers are deployed.
Throughout the exercise the Soldiers of Charlie Company has faced a dynamic set of scenarios, with constant changes challenging them every day.
“We take a situation and we continually shape it based around actions that happen during the exercise,” said 1st Lt. Lamar H. Green, a Civil Affairs Team Leader in Alpha Company, 414th CA.
The final day of the exercise culminated with an event that tasked all of Charlie Company's civil affair teams to coordinate a food distribution point for a camp of displaced civilians. It was the hardest event the company has faced in this exercise, but the Soldiers were able to execute a plan which successfully accomplished their mission.
“I think we all did a really good job of coming together and working together,” said Staff Sgt. William O'Reilly, a Civil Affairs Team Sergeant in Charlie Company, 414th CA.
With the lessons they have learned and the training they have accomplished the past few days the Soldiers of Charlie Company are better prepared to take on any challenges they will face at JRTC, or on future missions overseas.