Sunday, February 25, 2007

Civil-military operations center gets star power

Spc. Chris McCann
2nd BCT PAO, 10th Mtn. Div. (LI)

RADWANIYAH PALACE COMPLEX, Iraq — A coalition forces general visited the civil-military operations center at the Radwaniyah Palace near Camp Striker, Iraq, Feb. 23, calling it “good stuff.”
Maj. Gen. H. L. ‘Buz’ Altschuler, a native of Boston, Mass., and the commanding general of the U. S. Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command (Airborne), toured the facility that overlooks Camp Striker during the visit, meeting with civil affairs officers from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) and the 414th Civil Affairs Battalion that coordinates operations at the CMOC.
“He came to see the operations of the CMOC, and learn how we interact with the local nationals and what we do here,” said Sgt. 1st Class Juan Perez of Freeport, N.Y., the CMOC’s noncommissioned officer in charge. “He’s very interested to see our operations with the Iraqi nationals. Civil affairs is key to winning hearts and minds and winning the war.”
The CMOC clinic has treated over 1600 patients since opening less than a year ago, said Perez, and sees about 70 people each of the three days a week it is open. Soldiers are also available at the clinic in case of after-hours emergencies.
“There are no hospitals in this area,” said Perez. “We’ve already saved lives here. We’re the link between the local residents and the combat support hospitals.”
Maj. Ron Vogus, a native of Fayetteville, N.C., and the commander of the 413th Civil Affairs Company, explained much of what the Soldiers had done.
“It gives him visibility on all the excellent stuff the 2nd BCT, 10th Mountain is doing in non-lethal operations, which affects the lethal side. This is just one small piece. All the civil-military efforts are synchronized with the maneuver battalions. Bringing it all together is what the CMOC does,” said Vogus.
This is an integral part of civil-military operations, and other operations within the 2nd BCT’s sector. We have to work together to meet the brigade commander’s intent. We want to bring the eastern part of southern Baghdad together with the western part to get them involved with the nahia council and get the locals to bring the local governance together.”
Maj. Felipe Moon, a native of Modesto, Calif., and the civil-military operations officer for the 2nd BCT, said he was pleased by the visit.
“This is an opportunity for (Altshuler) to see, hear and experience his civil affairs efforts are capable of accomplishing these counterinsurgency operations,” he said. “The 413th Civil Affairs Company has been able to deal with every aspect of CMO, from negotiations and engaging sheiks to assessing clinics and developing civil service infrastructure in areas that have been war-stricken since 1991.”
Altshuler himself was impressed by the troops’ work.
“This is an example of a classic civil affairs ‘storefront,’ he said, noting that the battalion commander can work with the indigenous population through the CMOC.
“It’s a proven outlet for local nationals to communicate with the commander and enables him to fulfill the requirements to safeguard the population and still be able to carry out the mission,” said Altshuler. ‘The clinic, claims office and playground are near the secure facility but still accessible to the neighborhood. Nongovernmental organizations and other groups are able to be secured and protected, but still close to the population.
“In short, it’s just good stuff,” he said.

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