82nd Civil Affairs Battalion’s Last Deployed Company: Lessons Learned
By: LTC Samuel Hayes Jr. and SFC (Ret) Jerry Patterson
The Army of 2025 and Beyond . . . will leverage cross-cultural and regional experts to operate among populations, promote regional security, and be interoperable with the other Military Services, United States Government agencies and allied and partner nations.
—General Raymond T. Odierno1
In the 2017 Army Posture Statement, General Milley advanced the importance of anticipating the future and adapting to win in an evolving complex environment by capitalizing on opportunities through diplomacy, economic stability, and collective security.2 U.S. ambassadors and geographic combatant commanders (GCCs) recognized the importance for such cross-cultural and regional experts and informed national leaders of the need for Civil Affairs (CA) Soldiers. Since Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), the demand signal for CA support to the General Purpose Forces (GPF) continued to increase.3 Significantly, in a time of changing national priorities between fiscal and right-size force requirements, the path for the CA force experienced rapid growth and structured decline. Most of the CA force is in the reserve component (RC), which comprises 10 brigades; while the active component (AC) has a brigade and a battalion—the 95th CA BDE (SO) (A) that supports Special Operation Forces (SOF) and the 83rd CA BN that supports the GPF.4 With the 85th CA BDE inactivated in 2018, the GPF specifically lacks AC capacity. Leveraging the versatility of AC CA expands the Army’s civil-military capacity and enhances GPF’s ability to operate among the population.
The goal of this article is to show the diversity of mission sets and organizations AC CA supports, develop CA practitioners, as well as inform the larger community of CA’s value. The first section addresses the company and team’s experiences in support of U.S. Africa Command (USAFRICOM), U.S. Army Africa (USARAF), U.S. Air Forces Africa (USAFAF), Special Operations Command Africa (SOCAFRICA), and the U.S. Agency for International Development in West Africa Regional Office (USAID-WA) objectives. The final section addresses insights from these CA Soldiers’ unique perspectives (i.e., operating with GPF and SOF elements in the joint environment, working with the RAF and the U.S. country team, conducting regional exercises and assessing HN CMO capacity, validating HN CA forces institutions and setting the conditions for regional exercises with U.S. and NATO partners, coordinating among the DOD, DOS, and the international community, and supporting the teams and managing civil information), which currently may not reflect the view of others.
Delta Company, 82nd CA Battalion’s Experience
The 82nd CA BN was AFRICOM regionally-oriented and was deactivated in Fort Stewart, GA. Its mission was to train, equip, and deploy forces rapidly to conduct civil affairs operations (CAO) in support of USARAF, U.S. Army Forces Command (FORSCOM) units, or Joint Task Forces (JTFs) to achieve the desired effects of the supported commander (CDR) and support the political objectives of U.S. Embassies on the continent. As the last deployed company in Africa from July 2016 to April 2017, the Delta Badgers’ missions covered support to AFRICOM, USARAF, USAFAF, SOCAFRICA, and USAID-WA objectives.
This section includes the company’s pre-mission training (PMT), BN validation exercise, and the teams’ deployed experiences. Such experiences include review of what was known and unknown about these missions, followed by the teams’ experiences among USAFAF Base Operations Support-Integrator (BOS-I) missions in Niger, Regionally Aligned Forces (RAF) BOS-I support in Cameroon, exercise support in Malawi, the CMO survey in Benin, CA support in Senegal, Mauritania, and USAID-WA support in Ghana, and Civil-Military Operation Center (CMOC) operations in Italy. Last, the teams provided lessons learned based on their experiences.
Following the guidance of Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Malizia, Jr. and Command Sergeant Major (CSM) Lewis, the company’s PMT contributed significantly to the teams’ success. The training included the foundation on four training priorities: (a) CA skills focused on negotiations, relationship building towards consensus, adaptability, critical thinking, using social network analysis to understand the civil domain, depicting the civil domain within the common operating picture (COP), and developing targeted CAO, (b) language, regional expertise, and cultural (L-REC) skills specific to their assigned region and becoming a student of the civil domain, (c) survivability and tactics focused on small unit operations in austere conditions, and (d) physical and mental fitness (i.e., running, executing foot marches, and swimming to SOF standards) focused on mission accomplishment. Applying these priorities over a six-month period allowed the company to craft a PMT cycle that resulted in deployment ready teams.
This tailored training focused on the individual, team, and collective tasks model. Individual training focused on language in Italy and Atlanta, GA, survival evasion resistance and escape (SERE-C), weapons qualification (M2, M240B, M249, and M9) with a focus on engaging from a concealed position, negotiations at Emory University, advanced situational awareness training at Fort Benning, GA, counter threat finance training in Washington, DC, and nuclear biological chemical training. Team-level training focused on regional area analysis, tactical combat causality care, veterinary tasks, jungle warfare in Hawaii, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) civil-military cooperation (CIMIC) in Germany, the International Terrorism Awareness Class in Washington, DC, and design thinking at Special Operations University at MacDill, Air Force Base, FL. Last, collective training focused on several company exercises that tested team dynamics through tough mission-focused scenarios. Also, the teams spent a week in the National Capital Region to strengthen relationships between the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Department of State (DOS), the 1st Information Operations Command, the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP), Voice of America, Spirit of America, the Asymmetric Warfare Group, and other key agencies to include African academic scholars. As a result, the teams were well prepared for the BN’s validation exercise in North Florida.
After PMT, the BN leadership transitioned to LTC Mcgraw and CSM Burns. All teams were validated before deployment through a mission ready exercise (MRE) in northern Florida. The 82nd CA BN worked closely with several county officials in government, police, emergency management, and medical fields to develop a real-world exercise with existing real local problems that the teams would address. Each team deployed from Fort Stewart, GA and operated independently, in a county by themselves, through local government officials, to accomplish local political objectives in concert with the BN’s objectives. The exercise allowed the BN leadership to understand better how the CA teams would operate in a foreign country. As a result of the BN’s rigorous, in-depth exercise, the company received validation to deploy. The teams remained flexible and leveraged their adaptability to face a variety of mission sets supporting GPF and SOF units, which proved to be extremely valuable to their individual missions. In the following sections, the teams describe their relevant deployed experiences.
CA Operating in the Joint Environment: BOS-I Niger by CPT DeAndre McDonald and SFC Robert Duke
In supporting AFRICOM, CA team Niger adapts to and thrives in the joint environment. CA team Niger worked with the Government of Niger (GoN), Embassy of Niger, USAID, USAFAF, USARAF, 3rd Special Forces Group (SFG) (A), non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and others operating in the region. Whether in support of GPF or SOF, AC CA has the skillsets to operate in a complex operational environment.
Developing an Effective Campaign Strategy in Agadez, Niger
Since 2012, Boko Haram, the Islamic State of Iraq in the Levant-West Africa (ISIL-WA), and other violent extremist organizations (VEOs) extended their regional footprint across the Sahel. In 2016, the GoN formally agreed to allow the U.S. government to build a temporary base in central Niger to assist its West African partners with combatting VEOs in the Sahel.5 This particular project, led by AFRICOM, became known as the largest U.S. Air Force troop labor project since Vietnam. In the summer of 2016, CA team Niger deployed to provide CA support to USAFAF’s BOS-I, Niger and assumed the mission with four tasks: (a) develop a comprehensive Civil Military Operations (CMO) plan, (b) conduct and facilitate key leader engagements between host nation (HN) populace in the region of Agadez and USAFAF personnel, (c) identify sources of civil instability, and (d) implement humanitarian civic action projects.
With these four tasks, the team conducted rigorous mission analysis and planning to identify engagement objectives within three specific areas to gauge and influence how the HN populace viewed an increased U.S. presence in the Agadez region. While developing the proposed programs and activities, the team wanted to ensure to maintain the previously established relationships with the principal influencers to facilitate a seamless transition of operations. Each activity was specifically designed to aid the team’s ability to gain and maintain a persistent presence among the populace to begin the process of setting the foundation for future elements to develop a strong civil network. Additionally, the team nested its operations with AFRCIOM, USAFAF, USARAF, and the U.S. country team in Niger to integrate and synchronize the team’s engagement strategy with each organization’s interests and strategic objectives.
As the team developed its strategy, the goal was to ensure that the implementation of the comprehensive CMO plan would complement the task force capabilities. CMO includes definition as the activities of a CDR performed by designated civil affairs or other military forces that establish, maintain, influence, or exploit relationships between military forces and indigenous population and institutions (IPI), by directly supporting the attainment of objectives relating to the reestablishment of maintenance of stability within a region or HN.6 The team had to assure that each program and project took a whole-of-government approach to enhance persistent CA engagement to gather information for the operational process. With this understanding, the team knew that establishing the correct foundation was essential for follow-on elements as the mission in Agadez continued.
The team conducted livestock, education, and medical development programs with the purpose of developing a permissive operational environment to advance both current and future objectives of the Department of Defense (DOD) and DOS. In conducting civil engagements (CE), the team cognitively aimed to (e.g., inform, facilitate, coordinate, collaborate, de-conflict, resolve, mitigate, influence, and develop) and physically assisted with (e.g., distribute, deliver, contract, supervise, construct, conduct, and sustain) addressing civil vulnerabilities and gathering civil information to illuminate the civil terrain.
Shaping the Environment
The team, alongside an American NGO, Spirit of America, and the local Ministère de l’Elevage (e.g., Ministry of Livestock), financed and facilitated a regional vaccine drive to reach pastoral nomadic herders. The program included the vaccination of over 20,000 cattle, which enabled the team to conduct messaging among a group that historically resides in the ungoverned areas of Niger. The team’s message of countering VEOs to at risk population groups traveled throughout the region. The team knew that targeting different population groups had to produce a change in how the HN viewed an increased U.S. presence. In addition, it aided with shaping the environment for AB 201.
Throughout pre-deployment, the team’s research revealed that Niger invested limited resources in education. Specifically within the Agadez region, Wahhabism continued to grow; therefore, the team decided to implement its education program in concert with the U.S. Embassy Niger integrated country strategy. The “literacy rate of males between the ages of 15–24 at 52.4% and the literacy rate of females in the same age group at 23.2%.”7 To address the civil vulnerability, the team nominated an Overseas Humanitarian Assistance Shared Information System (OHASIS) project that built 500 desks for two secondary schools with more than 5,000 students from both schools. This particular project assisted the team in establishing a platform for the GoN and other U.S. government assets to build resiliency among Agadez youth against VEO recruitment.
The partnership with the village of Tsakatellum was designed to deny VEO access to the AB 201 southern flank and develop an early threat-reporting network. During a CE with the village chief, the team discovered that the expansion of the AB 201 increased difficulty for the local clinic workers to travel from the village to the city of Agadez for continued medical training. The location of the airbase is along the historical Trans Saharan trade route leading from Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Chad, and Libya.8 To address this challenge, the team’s medic, alongside two Air Force public health officers and a general physician, conducted a Medical Knowledge Exchange (MEDKEX) with the village’s clinic staff. After executing the MEDKEX, the team could gather enough civil information data to determine a way forward for a regional MEDKEX to assist USAID and the GoN’s ability to enhance resilience and nutrition.
The team came to the conclusion at the end of their deployment that developing a comprehensive CMO plan to be transitioned to the 724th Expeditionary Air Base Squadron (EABS) on AB 201 did not require the full capability of a CA team. However, the team saw an opportunity within phase zero (i.e., shape the environment) of an operation to “provide relevant, timely, and sufficient civil dimension and information into the CDR’s decision-making process.”9 This opportunity illustrated to the AF the importance of expanding its CMO’s capability to build on established programs and projects in its AOR. Before relief in place / transfer of authority (RIP / TOA), the team created the possibility to increase the operational footprint by conducting a joint three-day operation throughout the Aäir Mountains with a Special Forces Operational Detachment Alpha (SFOD-A) from 3rd SFG (A). The operation set the framework for follow-on elements to increase their operational reach into other unknown areas to understand civil issues.
The team utilized JP 3-57 CMO as the framework for conducting all their operations. Doctrine is a parameter and guideline to ensure mission success. However, joint doctrine can be improved to assist CA forces and CDRs better to visualize, conceptualize, and direct operations. The importance exists for CA forces, active or reserve, to understand the environment, and leverage available assets and relationships within the joint, interagency, intergovernmental, and multi-national (JIIM) and SOF environment to facilitate CF / SOF / JIIM interoperability to achieve unity of effort to accomplish the mission.
Although the team had an overall successful rotation, challenges existed. To gather critical atmospherics concerning tribal dynamics, the team leveraged relationships established during the National Capital Region visit that contributed to unknown trafficking routes used to shape USARAF’s civil COP. To bolster a positive U.S. presence, the team established the AF’s CMO programs tied to HN efforts. To influence key areas, the CA team forged joint working groups among Operational Detachment Alphas (ODAs), military information support teams (MISTs), and a civil military support element (CMSE), transferring insights gained to shape the GPFs’ counter VEO messaging that decreased recruitment. Overcoming the challenges of a joint environment, supporting various organizations, and operating in a semi-permissive environment, the team attributed it to its rigorous process from the Civil Affairs Assessment and Selection to the BN’s MRE.
Civil Affairs Operations and Civil Military Operations BOS-I Garoua, Cameroon
By CPT Ken Carroll and SFC Ivan Aguirre
The DOD emphasized three pillars to its defense strategy in the Quadrennial Defense Review 2014.
- Protect the homeland to deter and defeat attacks on the United States and to support civil authorities in mitigating the effects of potential attacks and natural disasters.
- Build security globally to preserve regional stability, deter adversaries, support allies and partners, and cooperate with others to address common security challenges.
- Project power and win decisively to defeat aggression, disrupt and destroy terrorist networks, and provide humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
All three pillars directly support through the CAO and CMO. Such operations remain nested with the U.S. Embassy Cameroon integrated country and DOD strategies in Africa.
Continuing to maximize the impact of a relatively small U.S. presence in Africa by engaging in high-return training and exercise events; negotiating flexible agreements; working with interagency partners; investing in new, effective, and efficient small footprint locations; and developing innovative approaches to using host nation facilities or allied joint-basing.10
This section documents the experiences of CA team Cameroon conducting CAO and CMO in support of the BOS-I mission in Cameroon from July 2016 to March 2017. The team’s mission in Cameroon aided GPF units under RAF. Currently, RAF assigned to AFRICOM rotate between active duty Army brigades on an annual basis. The RAF Soldiers assigned to missions within AFRICOM received limited regional training before deployments, while a significant portion of CA Soldiers spend most of their careers focusing on a single region. However, from the rotations of units, as well as varying home bases, RAF and CA teams rarely could train together.
The initial CA team set the groundwork for what the task force CDR should expect, and articulated the role of the team in supporting the BOS-I mission. CA team Cameroon continued the mission in Cameroon in July 2016. The team supported two different task force headquarters during its time in Cameroon, Task Force Mamba (3ID Fort Stewart, GA) from July to September 2016 and Task Force Toccoa (101st ABN DIV Fort Campbell, KY) from September 2016 to March 2017. The previous CA team discovered prior to deploying that funding for CAO and CMO was not available. While not uncommon, the CA team would therefore have to ensure its engagement strategy was a true whole-of-government approach to coordinate resources from other entities.
CA team Cameroon maintained a relationship with the country team. Traveling to the North Region had been problematic for the country team because of the threat level. The county team continued to offer its services in support of CA team Cameroon’s efforts. The U.S. Embassy had individuals to directly represent within the capital of the North Region. The CA team had the opportunity to utilize resources from the U.S. Embassy, and RAF personnel could be utilized for projects, donations, and other events. Positive task force visibility was the keyto the team’s CAO and CMO engagement strategy.
BOS-I Garoua’s CAO and CMO engagement strategy included division into several facets, with emphasis on youth within the BOS-I Cameroon area and the North Region of Cameroon as a whole. It was not all-inclusive, but focusing on youth allowed the team to provide a positive effect on the future leaders of the North Region, support country team goals, in addition to gaining access to current and emerging leaders within the area. CA team Cameroon established access and influence in the youth populations and civic leadership of the North Region of Cameron. A large part was accomplished by maintaining weekly engagements at the American Corner Garoua, a U.S. Embassy funded library and American cultural center. The team also conducted events at two orphanages on a bi-monthly basis and established relationships with schools through desk and school supply donations, accomplished by incorporating RAF personnel, as well as partner nation civilian and military leadership.
The American Corner is a partnership between the Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy in Yaoundé and the library in Garoua, Cameroon. CA team Cameroon and RAF personnel attended two meetings at the American Corner on a weekly basis. The first is Discover America, where different members of the task force talked about their hometowns and various aspects of American culture. The second is the English Club, where task force members assisted local nationals with learning conversational English. The American Corner members particularly enjoyed speaking with Americans, resulting in the Discover America and English Club meetings averaging 20 local citizens per event with a high of 60 Cameroonians attending one meeting. The team developed a close relationship with the director, who was very influential with local religious and civic leadership. Through the U.S. Embassy PAO, the American Corner posted photos and short write-ups on the positive interaction with U.S. service members, seen not just in the region, but also nationally.
The team sustained a relationship with two orphanages, the Centre Norte Dame De L’Accueil De Bidzar (CENODA) and Saare Jabbaama. CENODA located near Guider, Cameroon along the border with the Extreme North, cares for approximately 70 children between the ages of 6 months to 16 years old. CENODA provides housing, food, and a solid moral foundation for children vulnerable to influence by Boko Haram. Saare Jabbaama is in Garoua and not only cares for up to 24 children between the ages of 10 to 16 years of age, but is also an outreach center for displaced personnel. Saare Jabbaama is in direct contact with hundreds of youth from the Extreme North, Chad, and Nigeria. In most cases, the youth, and occasionally families, escaped violence from Boko Haram. This population is extraordinarily vulnerable, and through targeted CMO, afforded the task force the opportunity to address their issues. The team received clothing and food donations from different charitable organizations to give to both orphanages.
CA team Cameroon received schools supplies from NGOs, the U.S. Embassy, and locally purchased desks using OHASIS project funds. The purchase of desks and school supplies locally had an enormous economic impact. The team focused on large institutes that had little resources, as well as smaller rural schools around the airbase. Several of the school supply purchases were the largest ever made at various distributors. The team met with local political and educational leaders to determine which schools would benefit most from new desks and supplies. The relationships that CA team Cameroon established through these meetings offered the RAF immediate access to the main influencers in the North Region. The resulting donations positively affected over 10,400 children and countered violent extremism in vulnerable populations in the North Region of Cameroon.
Despite not training together with the RAF, the CA team became the vital link between the civilians and the military. Through CA team’s skills, they strengthened the relationship between the task force and the country team, which was crucial to the success of the CAO and CMO engagement strategy. The weekly participation in Discover America and English Club meetings, school supplies, and desk donations, and orphanage engagements provided the task forces positive visibility and access to a diverse population of local nationals. Many of the children at the schools and orphanages are part of a youth population susceptible to violent extremist influence. All positive interactions between task force personnel and local nationals generated long-term positive relations and goodwill toward the U.S. government presence in Cameroon. Cameroon became a model country for its neighbors—Nigeria, Niger, and Chad—in the fight against Boko Haram. It is important that good partner nation relationships be maintained with Cameroon to advance the terrorism fight and to assist with their stability efforts. If Cameroon becomes unstable, it weakens the region for Boko Haram.
USARAF Exercise Support/Theatre Security Cooperation Assessment By CPT Adam Wiley and SFC Chris Smith
CA team FAB had the opportunity to support AFRICOM, and more specifically, USARAF in several different capacities. Operating from Vicenza, Italy, USARAF conducts sustained security engagement with African land forces to promote security, stability, and peace. The first opportunity was in support of the exercise Southern Accord 2016, and the second was by conducting a CMO assessment of the forces armées béeninoises (FAB). The two vastly different operations made it possible to gain a better understanding of how CA skill sets can be applied in support of the GPF and the missed opportunities because of the 85th CA BDE deactivation.
AFRICOM, in concert with interagency and international partners, builds defense capabilities, responds to crisis, and deters and defeats transnational threats to advance U.S. national interests and promote regional security, stability, and prosperity. Through the African Horizons initiative, USARAF coordinates with regional leaders and security organizations to develop complementary and collaborative solutions to shared security challenges. USARAF adapts its bilateral engagements to achieve a regional effect, hosts regional and pan-African summits to foster candid dialogue, and tailors joint exercises annually to train, assess, and adapt regional response capabilities. One way in which USARAF supports AFRICOM is through exercises conducted with regional partners. These exercises seek to increase the interoperability and capacity of the participating military, civilian, and NGOs to respond to United Nations (UN) and African Union mandated peace operations throughout Africa.
In August 2016, CA team FAB provided exercise support for Southern Accord 2016 for its first mission. This particular exercise occurred in Salima, Malawi and consisted of the 15 member states of the Southern African Development Community, as well as NATO partners. The exercise was a command post exercise with the goal of increasing the capacity of U.S. HN partners to participate in the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MINUSCO) mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. CA team FAB was tasked to support the G9 CIMIC cell. Partnered with Dutch counterparts, the possibility existed to leverage NATO CIMIC training, knowledge gained as part of the PMT, to lead, coach, and mentor U.S. African partners through the staff operations of the G9 as applied to the real world MINUSCO mission.
Southern Accord 2016 and other such exercises continue to be conducted annually throughout Africa and other GCCs around the world. With the elimination of the 85th CA BDE, support for these exercises will likely shift to the RC CA or be lacking altogether. It is already apparent that the Netherlands has a strong hold on CIMIC and is the go-to source for CIMIC training as the host for the NATO CIMIC Center of Excellence (CCoE) at The Hague. With the closer of the 85th CA BDE, the CA branch would have an opportunity to fill positions that historically have not been filled. The belief is that this branch should be represented at the CCoE to add another skill to its skillset and aid the U.S. partner nations that conduct CIMIC operations throughout the world. The argument could be made that the CA branch needs to focus on its core tasks and cannot spare the manpower to fill new positions. One would argue that with the reduced forces of the 85th CA BDE, it is the perfect time in U.S. history to seek out new positions of influence. Additionally, CIMIC falls right in line with the CA core tasks, more relatable to all U.S. NATO partners.
In March 2017, the team conducted its second mission through the USARAF’s Theatre Security Cooperation, a CMO assessment of the FAB. This mission was an opportunity to support the GPF in an entirely different manner. This time, the team traveled to Benin to assess its forces to identify the capacity of its CMO and pinpoint an audience for future training opportunities. For this operation, the team leveraged its inter-agency experience gained during PMT to facilitate its assessment through the U.S. Embassy of Benin. The team used the relationships built with the U.S. DOS partners at the embassy to gain access to several high-ranking HN officials and military leaders. Based on the information gleaned from the meetings, the team recommended future FAB training to the U.S. Ambassador to Benin, which was well received.
For CA team FAB, the importance existed to capture these lessons learned. First, the plan was critical for an all-encompassing PMT because of the ever-changing mission faced. When conducting exercise support, the team must reach out to the supporting unit as early and oftenas possible. This communication is crucial to ensure to provide the best support possible and that the skill set can be utilized to its fullest potential. To continue supporting the GPFs to the team must show its value to commanders at the highest level. By conducting CMO assessments of U.S. partner nations the need exists to continue to shape the environment in which the United States operates and builds HN capacity.
FORSCOM Civil Affairs Teams Effecting Relationships in USASOC AOR’s
By CPT Barbara Harrington, SFC Aboubacar Sissokho, SSG Chad Ballestrazze, and SPC Robert Bernabucci
Army SOF can adapt to an ever-changing operational environment. Since 2003, VEOs developed and spread throughout the world, notably within the continent of Africa. Over a six-month period, CA team Senegal included the task of two mission sets by several commands within AFRICOM and SOCAFRICA. Each mission was particular in its own way, which allowed the teams to approach the problem of countering VEOs based on different requirements, reporting procedures, and expected outcomes. Throughout the entire process for each mission, although challenging, the team’s focus never changed and was always to counter VEOs throughout the given area of responsibility (AOR). The team defined success by its professionalism, problem-solving skills, ability to multitask, and most of all, comradery. SOCAFRICA utilized two approaches to combat VEOs, defined as the inside and outside approach.11 The team’s application of SOCAFRICA’s inside approach with HN partners was an effective tool to leverage relationships in a positive way by working through, with, and by U.S. HN partners.
Although requiring much coordination, this approach provides the HN with legitimacy for its local governments and law enforcement, which in turn, enhances security for the bordering regions. Without utilizing the inside approach, the possibility exists to run the risk of failing to achieve the strategic impacts for the mission. The outside approach has the potential to be successful, not allowing for immediate effects that can be reported from the tactical level back to operational or the strategic level commanders, however. The team took this approach and utilized centric and threat-focused approaches that set the conditions for improved security. CA team Senegal from Fort Stewart, GA deployed on short notice in support of an operation, which encompassed the closing of continuous CA operations throughout the Senegal AOR. What was a simple task, turned into setting the conditions for future autonomous operations in and around the Senegal AOR. The team leveraged the existing relationships that allowed for the successful completion of that operation. Immediately following,CA team Senegal deployed to Mauritania in support of Flintlock 2017. The primary mission was to establish relationships with Dutch Special Forces, and set the conditions for a successful Flintlock encompassing multiple African nations and U.S. NATO partners in Northern Mauritania.
Collaborating with Other SOF
The mission for the Senegal deployment was to complete a culminating exercise for an on-going program by several teams. Each team was instrumental in building the program in phases; and the team’s mission was to end the program and ultimately close persistent operations in Senegal. CA team Senegal conducted the CMO training with the Senegalese Army to identify the future potential and sustainability of the action civilo-militaire (ACM) program. CA team Senegal advised the ACM specialist course consisting of 15 Soldiers, one of whom is the first female ACM Soldier, which is an instrumental step forward for equality. A trained female Soldier provided the HN more flexibility and lateral limits when operating in the various zones throughout Senegal. Senegalese ACM non-commissioned officers (NCOs) instructed 26 courses consisting of 120 hours of classroom instruction, practical exercises, and a culminating exercise. Advising the ACM training directly supported SOCAFRICA’s lines of operation and the Embassy’s integrated country strategy. The Senegalese Soldiers displayed their ability to think critically during the exercises and the Soldiers were pushed into making real time decisions under stressful simulation scenarios they would potentially face in the performance of their duties, consisting of a culminating exercise in which all graduates performed CMO unilaterally. The development of their understanding of military operations was developed, the capacity to withstand stress was built, making sound decisions increased, and their ability to complete a successful mission was boldly demonstrated.
Since 2013, the Army Civil Affairs and ACM worked together collectively. The teams working in Senegal worked in every zone, established access to a wide area, and set the conditions for the ACM to work independently. The ACM program started with one NCO working with Army Civil Affairs throughout Senegal and as of this writing they have 44 NCOs and Soldiers qualified to conduct operations. The course proved the conditions were set for the ACM to work unilaterally, and throughout the development of the course, the team ensured Americans did not teach the course; it was a Senegalese course taught by Senegalese professionals and its success marked a new step in the Senegalese-American partnership.
Throughout the training and mission, the team faced three main challenges. First, the training and hosting the culminating exercise that trained Senegalese Soldiers from the Army, Air Force, and Commandos in CA. The second challenge was in coordinating with the U.S. Embassy and U.S. Army commands with the closing process of an over 10-year enduring mission, happening faster than the team anticipated. Third, the planning for a follow-on episodic mission involving the HN and allied partners. Team members completed each task in the required time and set the conditions for the episodic upcoming missions. The flexibility and training the team had prior to the deployment displayed the level of flexibility the 82nd CA BN has in regard to missions. Overall, the time spent in Senegal allowed the team to complete an exercise and bolster the Senegalese military with 20 Soldiers trained in CA, which garnered the attention of their commanding officers and ministry officials.
The final mission involved a working partnership with the HN and NATO partners to plan a regional exercise for Flintlock 2017. The team’s main purpose was to act as a facilitator between the NATO partner and the HN. During the two-week mission, the three groups conducted essential mission planning. While part of the mission was short, it set the conditions and enduring partnership between the United States the HN, and NATO partners. The partnership is vital not only for the Flintlock mission, but also for future missions focused on areas besides annual training. CA team Senegal’s episodic engagement with Mauritanian ACM Forces evaluated and secured sites to be used for Flintlock 2017. The country team cooperated with the outgoing team with a good understanding of the mission and team capabilities, which allowed the team to meet immediately with the Mauritanian ACM and conduct operations. CA team Senegal understood the various forces working within the country and worked with a 3rd group ODA and NATO forces to establish a foundation for relationships and continue a working partnership for future episodic engagements.
CA team Senegal completed all missions in October 2016, which started with an accelerated PMT of 3 months, 4 months deployed, and set the conditions for episodic engagements for Senegal and Mauritania throughout the areas of operations. CA team Senegal established bilateral training with Senegalese and Mauritanian ACM with key influencers that maintained regional effects that enhanced countering violent extremism activities in Africa. The 82nd CA training displays the versatility of teams in support of FORSCOM and U.S. Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) operations. The ability to react to different missions and AORs is vital to being a CA Solider and allows commanders to use mission command. As CA Soldiers, the teams’ missions focused on the civilian populace to ensure integration was positive or did not result in adverse effects to hinder future episodic engagements. Overall, the lessons learned must enhance the future operations of CA regardless if with a conventional or special operational mission.
Collaborating with the State Department: USAID and SOCAFRICA in the Lake Chad Basin
By CPT Barbara Harrington
The CA Team Senegal team leader had a unique opportunity to transition immediately as the Special Operations Command Africa (SOCAFRICA) liaison officer (LNO) to USAID-WA to confront the challenges occurring regarding violent extremism in West Africa. Since 2007, violent extremism in West Africa increased in complexity based on the growing number of extremist groups. The environment is uncertain and volatile, which equates to challenges for the government, law enforcement, military, and international donors. Boko Haram and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) overwhelmed the Lake Chad Basin communities, creating a high volume of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees who further strain local governments. Conflict in the tri-border region of Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger continues to increase, allowing violent extremist groups to move freely among three countries to carry out attacks that destabilize the regions and overshadow any of the other development issues they face. To confront these challenges, SOCAFRICA has an inside and outside approach to countering violent extremism (CVE) amongst other lines of effort.12 The inside aspect is to work “through, with, and by” U.S. partners using a regionally centric and threat focused approach that aims to set conditions for good partner nation governance and security. Security is achieved by disrupting, degrading, and defeating the VEO threat. The outside approach is to work through, with, and by U.S. partners using a regional approach to block and interdict external factors destabilizing good governance and security in the country. The holistic nature of the inside and outside approach requires a significant level of coordination with national level governments and a depth of counter-terrorism experience and resources; therefore, an effective campaign is only possible if the DOD, USAID, and SOCAFRICA units continue to nest their lines of efforts.
To work on the West African challenges, the DOD and USAID decided to work together with a current interagency initiative in Africa. History reflects the collaboration the DOD and USAID have to advance national security and foreign policy interests, such as the Marshall Plan, and provincial reconstruction teams (PRTs) during OEF and OIF.13 This collaboration evolved over time based on the need to incorporate non-kinetic stability operations to fill the void created by successful security operations.
SOCAFRICA provided a LNO to the USAID Regional Peace and Governance Office (RPGO) within the West Africa Regional Mission in Accra since 2014 to ensure the non-kinetic efforts synchronized with DOD operations. The scope of work for the SOCAFRICA LNO to USAID-WA is to facilitate collaboration and operational integration between SOCAFRICA and USAID, develop a common operational picture focused on population-centric activities, and contribute to the broader U.S. government strategy for CVE within the SOCAFRICA AOR. The LNO focused primarily on the geographic overlap between the SOCAFRICA and USAID West Africa AORs, with particular emphasis on the countries included under Trans-Sahel Counter- Terrorism Partnership (TSCTP).
Ensuring a productive and collaborative engagement for USAID during Exercise Flintlock 2017 was a primary focus for the LNO since November 2016. SOCAFRICA and USAID recognized that a spectrum of interventions from CVE activities to counter-terrorism (CT) operations was necessary to control the spread of terrorism in West Africa. The LNO ensured USAID collaborated with SOCAFRICA in formulating a senior leadership seminar that gathered approximately 60 senior representatives from North and West African military forces, civilian governments, civil society, and multilateral institutions, as well as select U.S. government and European partners for a frank and open dialogue in a non-attributional environment. The program included organization into plenary and working group sessions. Throughout the seminar, facilitators explained the number of possible push factors (including social exclusion, protracted local conflicts, and a lack of systems to address grievances) as well as pull factors (such as economic gain, prospects of fame, ideological appeal, and coercion) that can lead to the rise or spread of the appeal of violent extremism or insurgency. This type of facilitation and interaction the LNO assisted with was the first exposure to these concepts for many members of the audience. This event led to the establishment of coordinated efforts necessary to handle new developments resulting from SOF successes. The challenges discussed within the seminar required SOF integration in a whole-of-government approach. In the end, the discussions and collaboration between USAID and SOCAFRICA defined strategies and policies necessary to achieve mutual goals and objectives and proved the relevance of a LNO to be present to ensure conducting future seminars within a joint agency perspective.
The topics throughout the seminar led to dialogue that encouraged interagency coordination and military professionalism by setting military CT operations in the broader context of a whole-of-government approach to CVE. In addition to the seminar, USAID amplified the positive civil-military dialogue from the traditional leader engagements by replicating the conversations in civil-military round-table discussions and broadcasting these discussions through their partner radio stations in each outstation and nationally. The 3 weeks of combined civil engagement between the SOCAFRICA CMSE and USAID provides a model for how these two elements can work together more closely outside of a particular catalyst, such as the Flintlock Exercise.
The support for Flintlock in 2017 demonstrated how, with the assistance of the LNO, USAID and SOCAFRICA were able to move away from a simple exchange of goods or funds and towards a framework in which collaborative activities supported the achievement of collective and individual objectives. USAID support to Flintlock 17 leveraged the exercise and associated traditional leader engagements and CMO events to achieve the objective of increasing community resilience against violent extremism while helping SOCAFRICA meet its objective of improving civil-military cooperation and trust. It is important to emphasize that the partnership is productive in assisting each organization to achieve its own stated and directed objectives. Outlining the alignment of these objective structures and articulating the means by which the partnership facilitates each must be at the forefront of internal communication.
However, a significant gap exists within the CVE spectrum that the LNO highlighted and tried to express to USAID and SOCAFRICA. CVE research does not contain enough qualitative data to prove if the CVE programming within the African continent is improving with the developmental assistance. To look at CVE in another light, USAID’s Regional Peace and Governance Office has a 1 year pilot program, the Vulnerability-Resilience Assessment Initiative (VRAI) with the goal to build an assessment tool that can be used to assess the level of CVE resistance.14 Discussions during meetings were held on several occasions, and research unknown to the other agencies was conducted. Collectively, empirical research needs to be shared among the U.S. agencies and international community, holistically, for a clear understanding of CVE to be made within SOCAFRICA and USAID. A regional platform for USAID, the Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI), and the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA), can be formed for interagency sharing and a more reliable way to have donor mapping. The sharing of empirical data needs to be at the forefront because of representing on a small scale what occurs throughout the area in U.S. programs. SOCAFRICA and USAID cannot decisively say whether the data is useful or not yet because it has not been shared and they are not allowing programming to prosper given the nature of the unknown.
The regional office just completed the second CVE workshop, which is a start to ensure interagency collaboration that hopefully will prosper to a larger audience in the upcoming years. Furthermore, within the defense, diplomacy, and development (3D) approach, the recent CVE strategy does not incorporate the DOD and allows a gap to arise in the programming within West Africa. A SOCAFRICA LNO can bridge that gap, attend regular meetings, and maintain emails with all three agencies to capture the efforts the DOD continues to establish within West Africa. Overall, the SOCAFRICA LNO can bridge the gap within the interagency and enhance the extent to which the DOD and USAID are mutually beneficial to provide sustainable solutions for HN countries to counter violent extremist organizations in support of government objectives.
Civil Military Operation Center Forward and its Efforts with Civil Information Management and Effective Knowledge Management
By CPT Sean Adams and SFC Kevon Humphreys
The Civil Military Operation Center Forward (CMOC FWD) had the opportunity to augment not only the capabilities of the teams’ in communicating products to USARAF, but also identified external entities that could benefit from the information gathered in the teams’ areas of operation. Whether in support of CA teams or USARAF, conducting effective civil information management (CIM) had its challenges.
Understanding the Environment
Developing a common operational picture is important to aid the CDR in understanding the complex environment. The CMOC FWD determined and analyzed important civil factors for Africa and produced a document with several layers interactive for the CDR. It depicted all of CA’s efforts aligned with USARAFs’ and AFRICOMs’ priorities. As the first civil component common operational picture product for USARAF, it aided with decision making and was shared with other commands.
Operating in the informational environment is not an easy task. To understand this environment better, the CMOC FWD identified these vital outside resources that proved to be invaluable in broadening the audience on CAO and CMO activities being executed throughout Africa. One key organization was the USIP and its ability to gather, visualize, and share timely information about the current environment within a designated area with the Open Situation Room (OSRx; osrx.org/). Such capability scraped social media on various topics, which provided insight into the local sentiment based on the information being shared online to make possible the ability to use the information gathered from these scrapes to inform the teams on various local issues being voiced by the local population within its community. The biggest problem for the CMOC FWD was the limited OSRx’s usability because of the small social media footprint in austere environments that the U.S. teams operated. As proof of concept, while still in the initial stages of incorporating into the CIM process, it was still value added to both the teams and CDRs.
Some other key organizations, such as the USARAF Public Affairs Office (PAO), as well as various NGOs, were also utilized to push U.S. civil information imagery and reports to an external audience and induce positive U.S. messages into the informational environment. Because of the limited resources the teams had upon arriving on the continent, they had already reached out to various NGOs for support during their pre-deployment train-up. These NGOs were eager to receive imagery and information on how their goods and services were being used to provide for the local populace. Thus, they were ensured that the efforts of the teams to increase the support of the U.S. presence within these communities was shared throughout the DOD, DOS, and various NGOs, and were not just going to the CMOC FWD and USARAF. The first task was assisting in the creation of a repository of the information gathered.
USARAF’s Program of Record
INTELINK was the program of record used when working within the USARAF.‡ However, it was in the early stages of being implemented throughout the command, which resulted in very low inside and outside traffic to the page where all the civil information was stored. The USARAF CIM Distribution Flow Chart figure was developed included development to show how the various reports being receiving were distributed from the teams deployed throughout West Africa.
This product is not something new, completed by every CA CMOC to some degree. However, standardized reporting should be a requirement for all documents relating to the civil domain. The more the information flow is standardized within the civil domain, the more people will draw from its knowledge base, which will create a better overall understanding of the civil domain. Also, as INTELINK is solely an information-sharing site, definite drawbacks did occur regarding its capability to analyze information, mainly geo-referencing that required the use of additional software to create a COP that could be utilized at both the tactical and operational /strategic levels. Some of the specific drawbacks and benefits experienced with the information management (IM) capabilities of INTELINK for the teams’ needs follow.
- Access requirements limit the number of outside agencies capable of utilizing the information on the site. This information needs to be as accessible as possible to increase usability.
- A limited number of people knew the URL of the site. However, IM alone without the target audience being able and willing to access the information is meaningless.
- Individuals were required to request access to that particular site. Although this request for access was remedied, it did drastically limit the audience for over 8 months.
- Has both a non-classified internet protocol router network (NIPR) and secret internet protocol router network (SIPR) site, which increased the ability to share the information with outside organizations.
- Can be used by U.S. federal agencies and appropriately vetted state, tribal, and local officials. INTELINK was established to share the information on the site with outside entities.
- Is user-friendly and includes the possibility to create a page scaled to individual needs.
- Is known and used extensively within the Intel community. Any IM system is only useful if people use.
Civil Information Management
The CMOC FWD’s CIM challenges are not unique. It was determined in 2012 that the Army CA force lacked a comprehensive, standardized, and interoperable CIM capability for managing and disseminating civil information.15 Currently, no single application or program will address and resolve all the IM problems of an organization. However, steps have been taken to improve this issue.
In 2015, a committee discussed the way forward concerning CIM. This committee consisted of 16 voting members from the across the CA force and various other organizations in addition to nine non-voting members who represented external agencies. The purpose was to ensure that the Joint Civil Information Management System / Civil Information Management Data Processing System (CIMDPS / JCIMS) meets the needs of the stakeholders by fairly weighing all requests and acting impartially to accomplish shared vision and goals and to expand the current sharing capabilities of CIMDPS.16 On July 20, 2016, a JCIMS request for information (RFI) went out to the private sector to provide solutions for the next generation of CIM. This five-page document included definition of everything required of this new program of record. Four focused capabilities include description in the following sections.
Retain Legacy Performance Capabilities: backwards compatible with CIMDPS data. SOF JCIMS must be able to use CIMDPS stored data or have the ability to migrate the current CIMDPS data as usable and searchable data.
Query Functionality: Support user-defined queries based on geographical location and/or keyword and/or semantic attributes, from both internal and external data sources, including searching through the metadata.
Civil Information Elements: Software able to interface SOF JCIMS data with other databases, such as DOD intelligence, federal agency, and other NGO databases, as appropriate, to support CMO.
Operational Suitability: The capability must be suitable and efficient in the use of tools to create mission planning, reports, surveys, assessments, and Change Over Time civil information estimates to enable and inform mission command tasks. Conditions should be assumed effective, equally, in garrison and tactical environments.17
Even though it was only a RFI, information gained by the private industry on its capabilities to meet U.S. needs for CIM is a starting point from which it is necessary to proceed.
Even though conducting CIM within USARAF had its challenges, the CMOC FWD made a big impact. At the team level, it captured and highlighted strategic effects and shared its positive effects through the PAO. It mentored the teams through operational challenges due to the company conducting split operations between Italy, Africa, Germany, and Fort Stewart, GA, while the rear element focused on deactivation tasks. At the company level, it developed and implemented CIM standard operating procedures (SOP) and CAO PAO SOP, and forged relationships with key USARAF staff members: G9, G3, and G2. These relationships allowed the CMOC FWD to improve its ability to inform various entities on the civil domain; however, it was limited in audience. This limited audience and the stove piping of information will be eliminated once CA designs a way to manage its civil information at the branch level versus the unit level. Done correctly, CA will establish itself as the intelligent organization regarding civil domain; a domain becoming more strategically important than ever to Combatant Commanders in today’s complex environment that U.S. forces work in throughout the world.
Reflecting on the collective experiences from AFRICOM, USARAF, SOCAFRICA, USAFAF, USAID, and various U.S. country teams, the company leadership provides some insights. The overarching themes from the teams’ missions shaped the environments and their skillsets enabled them to be flexible towards diverse mission sets. Whether preparing for a joint environment, future CMO training, exercises with partner nations, or establishing future NATO touch points in a region, collaborating between the DOD and DOS, many of their actions were in phase zero (i.e., shaping the environment). These insights can be useful in addressing the Army’s CA support for the GPFs, specifically nesting these capabilities within the newly created Security Force Assistance Brigades (SFABs), charged with advisory missions. For instance, each SFAB could have a CA BN assigned to its formation, which would help with cultural training, working with foreign armies, deployed operations, and leveraging civil networks. The future operating environment includes the focus on stable and instable areas dealing with resource scarcity, environmental conditions, and natural or man-made disasters.18 With the understanding that the population will become more relevant, a long-term investment is required to assist the GPFs with AC CA forces.
The Army’s need for AC CA support to the GPFs became clearer because of its versatility for a GCC, JTF, or U.S. Ambassador; especially, as the future operating environment increasingly becomes more population-centric and complex. CA is the Army’s force designed to handle civil-military interactions, yet the right solution has not been determined regarding CA support to the GPF. As senior leaders determine the way forward, consider the experiences, lessons learned, and insights from the Soldiers of Delta Company to inform these discussions. As the environment transforms, and CA adapts to meet this change, a new paradigm that better leverages AC versatility may be required with change agents to implement the uncharted path to anticipate the next conflicts.
1 United States Army, The Army Vision: Strategic Advantage in a Complex World (Washington, DC: United States Army, 2015), 11.
2 Mark A. Milley, “2017 Posture Statement of the U.S. Army,” United States Army, February 24, 2016, https://www.army.mil/article/163561.
3 Samuel L. Hayes, Jr. and Ken Nguyen, “CA 2025: The Strategic Design of Civil Affairs” (master’s thesis, Naval Postgraduate School, 2015), 119; Gregory Grimes, “Civil Affairs: Gathering the Reins,” Small Wars Journal, 2009, http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/journal/docs-temp/199-grimes.pdf?q=mag/docs-temp/199-grimes.pdf.
4 Hayes and Nguyen, “CA 2025: The Strategic Design of Civil Affairs,” 50.
5 Emma Farge, “U.S. Building $100 Million Drone Base in Central Niger,” Reuters, September 30, 2016, http://www.reuters.com/.
6 “Home Page,” accessed March 12, 2017, http://www.soc.mil/swcS/. 7 “At a Glance Niger: Statistics,” accessed September 16, 2016, https://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/niger_statistics.html.
8 Hein De Haas, “Trans-Saharan Migration to North Africa and the EU: Historical Roots and Current Trends,”
Migration Policy Institute, November 1, 2016, http://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/trans-saharan-migration- north-africa-and-eu-historical-roots-and-current-trends.
9 “Home Page.”
10 United States Department of Defense, Quadrennial Defense Review (Washington, DC: United States Department of Defense, 2014).
11 United States Special Operations Command, SOCAFRICA Foundational Documents (Macdill Air Force Base, FL: SOCAFRICA, 2017), 1–67.
13 Moses T. Ruiz, “Sharpening the Spear: The United States’ Provincial Reconstruction Teams in Afghanistan” (PhD diss., Texas State University, 2009), iv.
14 United States Special Operations Command, SOCAFRICA Foundational Documents, 1–67.
15 Office of the Chief Army Reserve, Official Release of the Office of the Chief Army Reserve (OCAR ) AR 5-55 Study: Civil Affairs Capabilities Based Assessment (CBA), Conducted by the U.S. (Washington, DC: Office of the Chief Army Reserve, 2013).
16 USAJFKSWCS, “CIMDPS/JCIM Steering Committee,” All Partners Access Network, May 20, 2015, wss.apan.org.
17 Jerry McGhee, “Joint Civil Information Management System (JCIMS),” GovTribe, July 20, 2016, https://govtribe.com/project/joint-civil-information-management-system-jcims/activity.
18 National Intelligence Council, Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds (NIC 2012-001) (Washington, DC: National Intelligence Council, 2012), iv.