407th CA creates CIMIC Soldiers in Djibouti
Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa conducted Civil Military Co-operation training with members of the Djibouti military at Bat Hill 2, in Arta, Djibouti, Dec. 1-19, 2014.
Members of the U.S. Army 407th Civil Affairs Battalion, Charlie Company, Team 0733 trained 34 members of the Djibouti army and navy during the two-week course in preparation for their upcoming deployment to support the African Mission to Somalia (AMISOM).
The CIMIC course is designed to train service members on how to interact with the civilian population, learn their needs and bring those needs back to their leadership. The ultimate goal of CIMIC training is to provide non-lethal alternatives for combatant commanders.
“CIMIC is about saving lives rather than taking lives,” said U.S. Army Capt. Clemeunt Douglass, 407th CA BTN, Charlie Company, Team 0733 officer in charge. “Our goal is to ensure service members understand how to analyze the situation in their area of operation, how to best gain support for AMISOM and, more importantly, legitimize the government of Somalia in the eyes of the local populace.”
CIMIC training is conducted in two main phases. The first phase takes place in the classroom, where service members learn how to interact with the local population, assess local conditions and available resources, collect data and report the information to the commanders on the ground.
The second phase consists of practical application exercises. One of the exercises teaches the students about key leader engagement. Members of Team 0733 play the role of local leaders. The students‘goals are to meet with those local leaders, assess the situation and bring the information back to brief their commander. The course instructors evaluate the reports and provide feedback.
“The Tactical CIMIC course enables students to be the liaison between the civilian populous and the combatant commander,” Douglass noted. “CIMIC service members represent their unit and liaise with the national population, local authorities, as well as national, international, and non-governmental organizations and agencies.”
An important addition to the regular CIMIC course material was a lesson titled “Gender Issues in Conflict and Disasters.” Although cultural challenges make gender issues a difficult subject to teach, it is important for the student to understand the proper moral and ethical behavior expected from a professional fighting force. To assist with this task, Team 0733 enlisted the help of U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Bonnie Skinner, CJTF-HOA senior enlisted leader to teach the course.
“Your upcoming mission in Somalia is extremely important,” Skinner said during her lesson. “As members of the Profession of Arms, it is critical that each of you treat all with dignity and respect. This is regardless if the person is female, a child, or elderly. What you learn in this course will give you the tools to neutralize the threats to peace and stability in East Africa.”
CIMIC training is an evolving program built upon lessons learned from AMISOM operations. Although there were only 34 students in this class, Douglass says the intent is for each of the students to pass on what they learned in the course to their fellow service members. This will assist in accomplishing the AMISOM mission and create “African solutions to African Problems.”