Army Thanks Pilot for Role in Training
At this year's Pinelander Appreciation Day, the Army thanked The Pilot for its help training soldiers engaged in psychological warfare and civil affairs.
Teams of student soldiers visited the newspaper as part of their final training before joining Special Forces and being deployed as Civil Affairs teams (CAT).
Pinelander Appreciation Day is an annual picnic where the Army thanks civilians from 15 counties for their work playing roles as residents of an imaginary country under occupation by a hostile force. The exercise, called Robin Sage, has trained future special operations soldiers for some 50 years and is the culminating exercise for future Green Berets.
For the past five years, an added civil affairs component has been Operation Certain Trust, which is the capstone event for the U.S. Army Civil Affairs Qualification Course. That field training exercise takes place at the end of the nine-week qualification course preparing officers and noncoms to carry out civil affairs missions -- more and more a vital part of current conflicts.
Certain Trust has two phases, the Army says. The first is a tactical portion that occurs during the initial 36 hours of the exercise, and the second a field exercise that takes place over three days following.
Both phases, like Robin Sage, take place within the fictional country of Pineland: a post-conflict setting where students must deal with issues arising between various factions vying for local or regional power. Cultural role players pretend to be representatives of different ethnic and political groups.
Local officials and other role players from surrounding counties present challenges and opportunities for student teams to deal with concerns, conflicts and problems affecting the local populace.
That's where the newspaper and Muir-field Broadcasting have come in, meeting with teams of six to eight students visiting broadcast studios and the newspaper offices as if they were in Pineland.
Students can range in rank from sergeants to lieutenant colonels. Sometimes international students from countries such as Germany, Jordan, Mongolia, France, Moldova and Taiwan participate as well.
In a letter thanking The Pilot -- framed, and formally presented during festivities at Pinelander Appreciation Day -- Maj. Gen. Thomas R. Csrnko, the commanding officer of the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School at Fort Bragg, expressed gratitude for the paper's help.
"During this fifth year anniversary of Operation Certain Trust, your exceptional level of volunteerism has contributed immeasurably to the command's responsibility to train Civil Affairs and psychological operations soldiers," Csrnko said. "Your contribution of time and subject matter expertise are forever invested in our troops who learned their newly acquired skills and apply them during global deployments. We thank you and are proud to have you as a part of our training team."
The award was presented by the school's deputy commander, Brig. Gen. Bennet Sacolick. Sgt. Maj. Walter D. Finch Jr. and Lt. Col. Kyle M. Riedel, a Civil Affairs battalion commander, also presented the newspaper with a certificate of appreciation for help to 3rd Battalion, 1st Special Warfare Training Group (Airborne) with Operation Certain Trust.
Typical Certain Trust missions -- conducted at Camp Mackall to begin with -- include negotiating with local militia for access to bridges, assisting refugee groups and investigating poisoned water sources.
At times, Department of State (DOS) embeds provide strategic context to the CATs, ensuring they supported the U.S. strategic plan for stabilizing Pineland.
All DOS participants take part in the tactical portion -- marching through the woods and encountering role-playing scenarios through night and day, while sometimes coming under "hostile fire."
Every march ends when the participants are most exhausted in a simulated village block where teams rotate through high-pressure meetings with a shady mayor, an aggressive police chief, a grieving mother and other role players.
The field exercise portion takes place across five counties surrounding the camp.
Each CAT had an area of operation requiring assessment of local infrastructure, site surveys for displaced persons camps, and economic viability of local businesses. DOS members use specific skills to help the CATs accomplish missions and address the strategic goal of the exercise, which is always "a stable Republic of Pineland with increased participation in legitimate governance and increased equality of access to economic opportunity."
According to the Army, it is crucial for civilians to work alongside the military in a transitional, post-conflict, or stabilization environment, demonstrating not only nonmilitary functional skills but also the whole-of-government partnership that such operations require.
Contact John Chappell at 783-5841 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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