The 85th Civil Affairs Brigade trained Army Reservists last week in civil information management.
The weeklong course used a bridge as an example of gathering information about a community.
“A bridge could be a critical infrastructure to an area,” said Master Sgt. Tony Reis, of the brigade’s civil information management section and course instructor. “We want to make sure it’s safe and usable, and if there was a disaster, make sure it’s still sturdy.”
Four reserve soldiers from different companies of the 490th Civil Affairs Battalion, 351st Civil Affairs Brigade, out of Grand Prairie, participated in the course. The culminating training event required the soldiers to act as a four-person civil affairs team to evaluate a bridge within the Fort Hood training grounds.
Civil affairs soldiers are constantly deployed to remote areas in Africa and South America, where they are often operating independently, Reis said.
“If you don’t know a lot about bridges, take pictures and let the professionals figure it out,” said Reis, as the team began their evaluation Thursday morning. The civil affairs team looked at the bridge from various angles, determining its length, the width of the waterway and the amount of traffic crossing the bridge. The graffiti also was considered important to determining potential gang activity.
Capt. David Cang, who serves as a Department of Veterans Affairs police officer in Dallas in his civilian job, recently transferred from an active-duty military police officer to a civil affairs reservist and was new to this type of training.
“I’m still learning about civil affairs,” he said.
He said he assumed bridge assessment was something engineers did, but it made sense for civil affairs, considering the unit could be the only asset in an area to gather the information.
“You want to learn military information, but also economical and social,” said Staff Sgt. S. Ilicgodfrgy, reservist and economist with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in Washington, D.C.
She has deployed to the Horn of Africa before, and said this training was similar to what would be done on a real mission involving bridge assessment.
“To bring four people from different backgrounds to one team for a short-period of time to execute a mission tells you how flexible and capable a small civil affairs team can be,” Ilicgodfrgy said.
The participating Reservists said they will now take the training back to their respective companies.
“It’s a benefit multiplier,” Ilicgodfrgy said.