By Pacific Ocean Division Public Affairs
FORT BRAGG, N.C. -- A new partnership was forged when staff members from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) participated in an initial exercise planning workshop with the 95th Civil Affairs Brigade (Airborne) Jan. 20-21 at Fort Bragg—home of the U.S. Army Airborne and Special Operations Forces.
This was the first time ever for any USACE team to engage in a civil affairs mission.
Rounding out the Corps team, which traveled to Fayetteville, N.C., for the workshop, were Pete Gitto, Pacific Ocean Division (POD) military planner, and from Headquarters USACE were Lt. Col. James Moses, of G3 Training; Chief Warrant Officer 5 Michael Gamble, senior logistics officer; and Sgt. Maj. Mark Andrews, G3 Sergeant Maj.
USACE and the special operations’ civil affairs community collaborated to integrate USACE Pacific Ocean Division’s 62nd Forward Engineer Support Team (FEST) into a civil affairs mission readiness exercise.
Maj. Jason Buursma and Sgt. 1st Class Jose Garciapena lead the 62nd FEST, which includes six civilian engineer volunteers and is assigned to POD’s Alaska District.
According to POD’s military planner, participation of the 62nd FEST in the exercise will further this new partnership and serve as the unit’s certification exercise as they prepare for a deployment in support of the U.S. Central Command.
“The 62nd FEST will demonstrate that USACE Field Force Engineering assets can provide valuable support to the civil affairs mission with technical engineering capabilities, and that is expected to pave the way for future USACE and civil affairs training opportunities and contingency missions,” said Gitto.
“During the exercise the engineers of the FEST will enhance their readiness by planning and executing hands-on training while conducting route reconnaissance, bridge and infrastructure assessments, and construction design projects, all in direct support of civil affairs missions,” added Gitto.
According to a briefing by the brigade’s plans officer, the mission of civil affairs forces is to influence governments and populations through non-lethal actions to protect U.S. interests and partner nation sovereignty in support of Theater Special Operations Command commanders and U.S. ambassadors.