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THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 26, 2015  06:21:43 AM

Civil affairs-qualified: Above the zone, below the radar

Email   Print   Share By Staff Sgt. David House, 85th CA Bde. Public Affairs
February 6, 2014 | News
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Special Operations candidates conduct tire-flipping drills as part of their enhanced physical training regiment while training for Special Forces Assessment and Selection with the Special Operations Recruiting Battalion at Fort Hood. Soldiers continue to train and develop their skills before they are allowed to proceed to the course at Fort Bragg, N.C. Courtesy photo
Above the zone but below the radar, a little-known military occupation specialty, civil affairs, is looking to recruit motivated male and female Soldiers – enlisted, as well as officers. To do so, the Special Operations Recruiting Battalion at Fort Hood has developed a program to ensure candidates’ success.

The program, developed and conducted by the Special Operations Recruiting Battalion, concentrates mainly on preparing candidates physically as well as mentally by helping develop a proper mindset in initiating the switch to civil affairs and other special operation career fields.

“The thing with CA is that many people do not know that we exist,” said Sgt. 1st Class Robert Bentcliff, a CA team sergeant on assignment with the SORB. “So I came down here to help spread the word about who we are and what we do. Most of all, I am able to identify an opportunity within the Army.”

Civil affairs Soldiers are specially trained to work directly with civilian and military organizations of other nations to perform common tasks in support of embassies, nation building and humanitarian assistance, all while enabling the civil-military operations of the supported commander.

“Like many others, I had no idea what civil affairs was until I heard about when I was attending the Warrior Leadership Course,” said Spc. Robert Golliher, a mechanic assigned to the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade. “After learning more about it and what they do, I was definitely motivated to switch over.”

Part of the process of becoming CA-qualified is an initial 10-day assessment, followed by the qualification course that can last up to a year, capped off with completion of a foreign language course.

“The assessment was much harder than I anticipated,” Golliher said. “(It was) very exhausting, not only physically, but also mentally, as they test your ability to think outside of the box and being able to react quickly.”

Golliher credited his success of passing the initial assessment to the physical training program conducted by the SORB. Candidates are put through a strenuous physical training regime from 5:30 to 7:30

a.m., which incorporates not only traditional workout methods but introduces the use of logs, tires and sand bags, all built around team work.

“While it is not for everyone, it is something that will enable a Soldier to not only stay (in the) Army in light of the current drawdown, but be able to expand their overall knowledge and develop extremely marketable skill sets,” Bentcliff said.

Candidates are also prepared for the day-to-day operations of Civil Affairs by being selected for a special duty to work at the SORB, while awaiting official orders for a class date. Working at the recruiting office, they are not only preparing themselves for the future, but are helping pave the way for future candidates.

“Being able to work alongside those that are already civil affairs training is a big help in preparing myself,” Golliher said. “I can thank Sgt. 1st Class Bentcliff for answering all of my questions and setting me up for success.”

For others, it is about continuing a tradition.

“Well, I have Family that is already in the special operations community,” Spc. Daniel Sutton said. “And after learning about civil affairs, I felt it would be a good way to give back to the community, (both) military and civilian.”

Sutton, a heavy equipment operator with the 36th Engineer Brigade, has been in training with the SORB since August and is awaiting a class date in 2014.

“I hear it will be tough, but the training we are doing will help prepare me,” Sutton said. “An intense program that will get me physically fit and motivated so that (I) won’t fail my battle buddies or myself. This program will definitely get your mind prepared and get your body prepared. When you come here, they will break you off.”

Service members interested in becoming civil affairs-qualified should contact the Special Operations Recruiting Battalion at 288-5324 or drop by their office located on the corner of 42nd Street and Old Ironsides.
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