Allied Spirit is a series of U.S. Army Europe-directed, 7th Army
Training Command multinational exercises. Allied Spirit VII included
approximately 4,100 participants from 10 nations.
The CA team from the Michigan-based 415th met with the mayor within the
simulated town of Enslwang, as a means to gain situational awareness and
open communication pathways between U.S., partner nation forces and the
local populace. The mayor and other residents within the fictional town
are JMRC role players.
“Part of our goal was to gain situational awareness on activity in the
town, because right now we have limited means of secure communication”,
said Sgt. Alyssa Malott, a civil affairs noncommissioned officer
assigned to the 415th.
This was not the first time the team met with the local populace
throughout the simulated area of operations. Within the few days of
being in the area, the team met with multiple leaders and established a
close relationship with the populace of another town, Uebungsdorf.
“We have good relations with the mayor of Uebungsdorf, where we’ve been
housed and accepted as part of the community,” said Malott. “We’re like
family now and we all look out for each other.”
These relationships are an essential part to shaping SOF operations as
they provide the incoming unit with a clear view of the environment they
and other military units will be operating in, including political and
“They can help build support and rapport in a town so if we do come in
there, there is already a baseline established that helps to shape our
operation,” said a U.S. Army Special Forces Soldier participating in the
exercise . “It’s a whole bunch of moving pieces working together, and
they are kind of the roots of that.”
The motto of Army Civil Affairs is “Secure the Victory,” and they help
military commanders by working with civil authorities and civilian
populations in the commander’s area of operations to lessen the impact
of military operations on them during peace, contingency operations and
declared war. Civil Affairs forces support activities of both
conventional and special operations forces, and are capable of assisting
and supporting the civil administration in the area of operations.
Within the first week of operating in the simulated area of operations,
the ground-level civil affairs team’s efforts were able to affect not
only the SOF operations, but the larger conventional forces taking part
in the training exercise as well.
“There has been a huge ripple effect,” said Sgt. Rachel Nanning, a civil
affairs NCO and exercise planner from the 457th Civil Affairs Battalion
assigned to the Joint Multinational Readiness Center. “At this point in
the scenario the Civil- Military Operations Center and SOF unit are
beginning to communicate back to conventional forces and provide vital
information to assist in what conventional forces are doing.”
As the U.S. CA and SOF teams worked side-by-side with NATO Allied units
throughout the exercise, both had the opportunity to overcome real-world
obstacles and increase interoperability.
“The civil affairs team here is working through language barriers and
cultural differences which has been good for building interoperability
and communication pathways with our partners,” said Nanning.
“Training on a multinational level has been effective because you’re
training on interoperability,” said Sgt. 1st Class John Wessely, a civil
affairs NCO and exercise Observer Controller assigned to the 457th CA
Bn.” We get to see how each other work, we get to train partner nations
and help them with something that isn’t normally their focus.”
Beyond the limits of the training scenario, the exercise proved to be an
invaluable experience for the Soldiers of the 415th CA Bn.
“I think one of the main challenges we’ve faced as a reserve unit is not
having SOF experience prior to the exercise,” said U.S. Army Cpt.
Courtney Pace, a civil affairs team chief assigned to the 415th. “Now
these guys have a whole new set of skills that they can teach to the
rest of unit to show them this side of civil affairs that they can use
if they’re working with SOF.”
Through training on new skills and facing obstacles such as
communication and cultural differences, the civil affairs team proved to
be an essential force multiplier for SOF operations within Allied
Spirit VIII and a reflection of the capabilities of civil affairs for
“There are a lot of different uses in the SOF world for civil affairs,”
said Nanning. “Civil affairs is that link between the military and
civilians and so they can be utilized and shaped in many ways in order
to support civil-military operations.”