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Home > UNS > 141104-01


DATE POSTED: November 4, 2014

Civil Affairs validate skills during mission readiness exercise

by 2nd Lt. Charlotte M. White
97th Civil Affairs Battalion (Airborne)

FORT BRAGG, N.C.  (USASOC News Service, Nov. 4, 2014) - The 97th Civil Affairs Battalion (Airborne), based at Fort Bragg, N.C. and 3rd Civil Affairs Group, a US Marine Corps Reserve (USMC-R) unit, joined forces to conduct a pre-deployment Mission Readiness Exercise (MRX). 

The purpose of this exercise was to validate and test the readiness and effectiveness of the civil affairs teams to work with government officials across a range of functions for their upcoming six month rotation in the Pacific region. 

In the exercise, the teams operated in various counties across the North and South Carolina coastal regions, including Pender, New Hanover, Brunswick, Columbus, Horry, Marion, Dillon and Georgetown counties.  The teams worked with numerous county officials to develop their disaster relief and response management skills in preparation for their upcoming deployments.

“Our MRX gives our Soldiers a unique opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge of critical special warfare capabilities in a realistic training environment,” said Lt. Col.  Thomas Matelski, 97th Civil Affairs Battalion (Airborne) commander. “It tests their abilities to understand and adapt to a set of challenges to the local communities we work with.  The local communities of North Carolina and South Carolina benefit from a fresh perspective and potential solutions to existing problems.  The local communities become a part of our ability to address real national security challenges while deployed in Asia.”

Civil affairs teams deploy to build rapport and working relations with local and host nation governments.  The training exercise also employed the aide of the local population by using their real world occupations to engage the teams and companies in scenarios that mimic those found in key leader engagements during deployments. The counties visited during this MRX provided support and training that simulated realistic scenarios.

“County officials can provide the team full access to the county or focus their efforts in a specific area of concern,” said Sgt. 1st Class Arturo M. Balsa, a civil affairs team member. “Building rapport and genuine relationships with senior local officials are crucial and realistic tasks civil affairs teams face during deployment, and this environment is a very effective training alternative.”

In addition to conducting civil military operations, the 97th CAB (A) used this exercise as an opportunity to demonstrate the effectiveness and readiness of the battalion headquarters to deploy in an operational environment. The exercise was comprised of multiple occupational specialties, including communications, automations, human resources, maintenance, logistics and preventative medicine.  The staff of the battalion provided extensive support that showcased the battalion’s ability to deploy rapidly.

The 97th CAB (A) teams partnered with their sister service, 3rd Civil Affairs Group (USMC) enabling the two partners to develop a training program that reflects the capabilities of both units to further expand their civil military operations throughout the world.

“The ability to work jointly is not only a valuable training objective, but a necessary approach to current global conflicts,” said Matelski.

Through the teamwork of the numerous county officials, 97th CAB (A), and 3rd Civil Affairs Groups validated the ability of both units to conduct successful missions in the Pacific region.  The professionalism, technical and tactical expertise displayed throughout the exercise demonstrates how civil affairs teams will shape the future of upcoming military operations.