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NEWS | Dec. 4, 2023

Army Reserve civil affairs Soldiers deploy to Africa, strengthen partnerships

By Capt. Philip Regina U.S. Army Southern European Task Force, Africa

In an effort to strengthen partnership and promote stability across the African continent, U.S. Army Reserve civil affairs Soldiers have embarked on a series of nine-month rotations, deploying in support of U.S. Army Southern European Task Force, Africa (SETAF-AF), to execute vital missions.

Civil affairs Soldiers, often referred to as the "bridge builders" of the U.S. Army, play a crucial role in facilitating communication and cooperation between military forces and local communities. Their missions span a wide range of activities, from humanitarian assistance to civil-military projects. These skilled individuals serve as liaisons between the SETAF-AF and African partners, ultimately fostering goodwill and mutual understanding.

“We are a collection of Soldiers from across America, brought together to do this very important mission,” said Capt. Cody Miller, officer-in-charge of the SETAF-AF forward-deployed Civil-Military Operations Center. “Our companies are broken up into several small, 4-6 Soldier teams deployed throughout the continent of Africa. These teams interface directly with the civilian populations with the goal of strengthening partnerships.”

SETAF-AF provides U.S. Africa Command and U.S. Army Europe & Africa a dedicated headquarters to synchronize Army activities in Africa and scalable crisis response options throughout Africa and Europe. A key component to their success is to employ the experience and versatility of Army Reserve and Army National Guard units to execute missions across the African continent.

During their deployments, the civil affairs Soldiers assigned to SETAF-AF are actively engaged in African communities. They collaborate with local authorities, non-governmental organizations, and international partners to address critical issues. Such projects may include improving healthcare infrastructure, supporting educational initiatives, or aiding in disaster relief efforts. By doing so, they not only provide immediate relief, but also help communities become more self-sufficient and resilient in the long term.

"Africa is a continent of incredible diversity, and every country’s mission set is a unique challenge. I've seen firsthand how our work benefits African partners. It's about mutual respect and understanding, and when we can help a community achieve its goals, it's an incredible feeling," said Capt. Dominique Mosbly, SETAF-AF Civil Affairs Team 21 Chief.

The majority of the U.S. Army’s civil affairs capability exists within the Army Reserve. These Soldiers serve part-time, typically one weekend a month and two-weeks a year. When not in an Army uniform, they work as police officers, business professionals, medical providers and school teachers, among many other professions. The SETAF-AF civil affairs teams harness these civilian expertise and skill sets to execute the mission.

"We employ a whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach in our efforts to increase the region's security and stability. We integrate multiple host nation, US, and international partners into our work, which includes countering violent extremist organizations and helping build host nation institutional capacity,” said Maj. Jacqueline Li, Bravo Company Commander for the SETAF-AF Civil Affairs Battalion.

“As Army Reservists, the SETAF-AF civil affairs Soldiers bring a wealth of knowledge and experience from their civilian backgrounds that greatly assists them in their missions. This deployment is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and the Soldiers of Bravo Company are honored to be working with our West African partners," added Li.

Lt. Col. James A. Favuzzi, SETAF-AF Civil Affairs Battalion commander, provides guidance and oversight to the many civil affairs teams operating in Africa. For Favuzzi, the importance of these missions cannot be understated.

"Our Soldiers play a pivotal role in the effective execution of SETAF-AF activities. Their interaction with African partners, as well as the information they provide on civilian populations on the continent significantly contributes to our African strategy,” Favuzzi said.

SETAF-AF civil affairs Soldiers conduct multiple missions on the African continent each year, executing numerous civil-military events in support of the SETAF-AF mission to build capacity and strengthen relationships with African partners.