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NEWS | Sept. 21, 2022

Civil Affairs BN Builds Foundations at NTC

By Staff Sgt. Elizabeth Bryson National Training Center and Fort Irwin

U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers from the 426th Civil Affairs Battalion (Airborne), 351st Civil Affairs Command, United States Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command (USACAPOC), honed their warrior tasks and skills during a field training event Aug. 27, 2022, in Junction City, a part of the National Training Center’s training area at Fort Irwin, Calif.

The number one priority for the U.S. Army, according to the 39th Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Mark A. Milley is “readiness.”

Tough, realistic and relevant training in basic skills develops competent Soldiers, leaders, and formations that support that priority; it results in the muscle memory and proficiency needed in combat to defeat enemy forces, according to Army Field Manual 7-21-13.

One of those basic skills includes the ability to properly convey a report over the radio confidently and accurately, according to Sgt. Jose Chavez, a signal support systems specialist with Company A, 426th CA Bn,, 351st CA Command, USACAPOC.

“Today we are doing mock SALUTE reports,” said Chavez, as he placed
green plastic Soldiers in the dirt to create a makeshift sand table to be used in the training scenario.

SALUTE reports are relayed over the radio during a patrol or mission in order to inform the chain of command of an encountered enemy’s size, activity, location and unit, as well as the time of the incident and any equipment the enemy might have.

“We have the Soldiers identify what they are seeing on the ground standing a little bit away from the table and then send up a report on a live radio,” Chavez said. “It may not be that easy for them to see what is going on from a distance, but that can happen in real life.”

“We just want them to be as accurate and detailed as possible about what they are seeing and to be able to relay that up the chain quickly,” Chavez added.

The event also gave Soldiers a chance to work on their radio etiquette.

“You never know who might be asked to call up a report, whether it be in a training scenario or during a real event,” Chavez said. “Everyone should be able to do it.”

Chavez, who is originally from San Bernardino, Calif., said he enjoys training at NTC because it gets his Soldiers out of their comfort zone and creates a realistic deployment environment.

“The buildings… the desert heat, it has that realism [and] you have to be more aware and mentally prepared,” Chavez said. “It also gets us out here away from the city where we can be isolated and train without any distractions.”

The National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif., hosts thousands of U.S. military service members, as well as other government agencies and foreign military from around the world each year in its 12 mock-up villages that provide visiting training units with a unique, immersive experience in which to hone their skills and develop their leadership abilities.

According to Master Sgt. Jordan Logan, 426th CA Bn., 351st CA Command, USACAPOC, acting first sergeant, Soldiers train as they fight at the NTC.

“When you are in a classroom environment, there is no space…no movement [and] there’s no place to go where you are immersed,” Logan said. “Coming here, the convoy, the heat, the long hours.. being set into a unique environment… you cannot duplicate that back [at your home station].”

Logan, who served in both the Marine Corps and Army as an infantryman and trainer for several years before becoming a member of the civil affairs community, said practicing basic soldier skills, such as how to relay a radio report, is crucial.

Logan explained foundational skills are what come before, during and after everything else— mastering those basics and developing muscle memory to perform them under stress allows troops to expand their knowledge and adapt to new problem sets while still being able to function as a Soldier.

Soldiers from the 426th CA Bn. trained at the NTC throughout the weekend, starting with a skills refresher for Soldiers of A Co., who set up in the field as the rest of their contingency completed airborne operations in Van Nuys, Calif.

They then participated in a comprehensive situational training exercise that challenged their ability to assess situations, move tactically through a village, communicate with various local leaders and solve problems on the ground. Throughout the exercise, teams used the communication skills practiced earlier to effectively report that information back to their higher leadership.

“Growing up as an infantryman, having had that background, I like to see my Soldiers training and taking initiative,” Logan said. “Communication training is critically important … shoot, move and communicate… so we can survive to do our jobs.”