Posted By: Jon

Jon Tracy

I spent March 3rd and 4th visiting and participating in training at the United States Army’s National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California. Located in the High Mojave Desert, Fort Irwin is the Army’s preeminent training center for soldiers. It provides realistic training for commanders and soldiers to prepare them for success in actual conflicts. The unique invitation to observe and engage in training at Fort Irwin allowed CIVIC to learn from the U.S. military and offer our perspective on how the military can do a better job of providing honest recognition to civilian casualties on the battlefield.

During my visit, the staff for the Third Brigade of the First Armored Division was participating in a week long training exercise. The entire brigade staff was there to write their campaign plan for the brigade’s 14 day stimulated battle that will occur in two months. This campaign plan will serve as the brigade’s primary set of standard operating procedures they will follow for the full spectrum of their operations. I had an opportunity to brief the primary members of the brigade staff including the brigade commander and all of the battalion commanders. I offered CIVIC’s perspective on the importance of establishing a comprehensive and successful claims and condolence payment program. The brief provided specific details on how the brigade could then implement that program “on the ground.” A healthy dialogue continued throughout the brief. I also had the opportunity to provide more specific details on creating and implementing a claims and condolence payment program with the brigade’s judge advocate.

I also spent time briefing and informally talking with several members of the NTC staff who conduct the training at Fort Irwin. We talked about potential methods to better train units on the proper way to run a claims and condolence payment program. CIVIC hopes that this dialogue will continue. Our goal is to ensure that all commanders and soldiers understand the importance of treating civilian casualties in a just and humane manner and to offer concrete ideas about how to do this.

Image courtesy of CIVIC