Relief in Place: Charlie Company Takes Reigns
Members of Bravo Company and Charlie Company, 407th Civil Affairs Battalion, conduct a sync meeting Aug. 21, 2014 in the civil affairs conference room at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti. Charlie Company is taking over missions in support of Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa as Bravo Company Soldiers prepare to return to Arden Hills, Minn., following a nine-month deployment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Dillon White)
U.S. Army Sgt 1st Class Jacob Olson, Charlie Company 407th Civil Affairs Battalion senior medic, shares medical best practices with cadets during a splinting course at the Arta Interservice Military Academy Aug. 22, 2014 in Djibouti. Olson arrived from Arden Hills, Minn., recently to begin a nine-month deployment as his Company relieves their sister company, Bravo Company, 407th Civil Affairs Battalion, also from Arden Hills, Minn. Also participating in the day’s exercises and English Discussion Group were Soldiers from the 2/16th Infantry Battalion. (U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Daniel Halsey)
The Civil Affairs Soldiers are hot-desking again.
NCOs are getting blood types, officers are scheduling sync meetings and the top-floor shipping container-turned office is what U.S. Army Spc. Andrew Paget calls the New York Stock Exchange.
“We’ve been running non-stop since they got here trying to get all the missions over to them so they don’t have to start at ground-level,” Paget said, himself a Bravo Company, 407th CA BN medic. “Overall we’ve had a good schedule. They’re getting a lot of information thrown at them and they’re picking it up quick.”
The Rosemount, Minn., native, has been deployed to Camp Lemonnier nearly nine months and before that was in training to re-class from a civil affairs specialist to a medic – specifically for this deployment – in January 2013.
“It’s great to know the hard work we did will continue after we leave,” he said about the transition. “We really wanted to have a good RIP and have everything on paper. We started continuity binders a while ago so we could just continuously add to them so we weren’t scrambling at the last minute. I also made CDs for the medical courses we taught and have been handing them out so everybody can have a baseline … they don’t have to do all this on their own.”
Among the Charlie Company medics rotating in is U.S. Army Sgt 1st Class Jacob Olson. Olson is the senior medic for the Company and assigned to Team 4.
“From outside looking in at CA in years past, this is a lot more hands-on than I expected,” Olson said, comparing his deployment with Civil Affairs to previous deployments as a flight medic. “It’s quite a bit different first-hand. It’s a good experience. We’re instructing and meeting people, talking to people – completely different mission set.”
Olson said turn-over has been thorough from initial briefings on Camp Lemonnier to missions in Djibouti and his time so far has been rewarding.
“We’re doing tactical combat casualty care at [Arta Interservice Military Academy] today, which is an officer candidate school for them -- and English discussion groups,” Olson said. “I’ve done a total of five days of missions. I have nothing to complain about, this is a nice place to be deployed to.”
While the missions will remain, some reorganization is occurring to match teams with missions and their respective operations tempo.
“The change is based on prioritization of effort and will ensure we are resourcing the priority projects with as many people as possible while not neglecting essential missions in Djibouti,” said Capt. Craig Webb, Charlie Company 407th CA BN, Team 0734 Chief. “Benefits are we can identify and prioritize missions. So in Arta, there is a lot going on so we wanted to have separate teams to handle it. Teams that will be more active downrange in Africa are assigned to missions that have less tempo in Djibouti so when they are gone it won’t leave so much of a vacuum.”
Webb explained the missions themselves and how the teams conducting them will remain the same.
“Bravo’s handed off a lot of great projects,” he said. “We use Bravo Company’s experiences to improve Charlie Company’s performance. Seeing what they’ve done, we can work to refine their initiatives.”
“I’m thrilled with my team’s response to the mission and how they’ve adapted so far to the requirements of civil affairs.”
Webb said the RIP has been a challenge but both companies have adapted and worked well through it. The companies ran periodic sync meetings to de-conflict issues at a macro level and the teams’ relationships have been great.
“They’ve been great partners,” Webb said. “There has been a lot of stress and a lot to do but those relationships and meetings have really helped.”
As the RIP concludes, the teams go separate ways and each member marks their events -- first times and last times -- from the mundane to the spectacular.
Each one has a new beginning ahead of them.
“It’s an exciting opportunity to spend eight months getting to know a different country and a different culture,” Webb said. “It’s certainly something that we’re all embracing.”
For Bravo Company, Soldiers commented on the last time they drive to a mission or eat tacos on a Tuesday at the Doris Miller Galley.
The last several weeks of a deployment is also about staying focused so they can return home safely to loved ones and their civilian life. They also reflect on their experience.
“I got to see a lot and experience different cultures and events I wouldn’t have anywhere else,” Paget said. “It’s been a good learning experience."
Rest and relaxation may be on the books for some, but for Paget, there is a semester to begin.
“My replacements are taking over more, so I had some downtime and called my counselor to sign up for Fall semester. I’ll start school right when I get back.”