Posted By: Marla B.

Today, with Jon Tracy, I visited Ft. Belvoir to participate in one of their training sessions. A satellite campus for the Army’s Command and General Staff College, Ft. Belvoir supports the CGSC’s mission to educate and develop leaders for full spectrum joint, interagency and multinational operations. It reminded me once again of the importance of dialogue between civilian and military folks.

The students (mostly Army Majors) were tasked with creating a plan for deploying to a fictitious place to protect and hold one country’s border from a bellicose group of fighters in an ajoining country. As they carried out the exercise we interacted with them as we would ‘in the field’.

Jon and I were accompanied by our counterparts from the State Department, USAID and a couple of other NGOs, eight in total. In two groups of four we rotated through three ‘classes’. In each of the classes we were able to talk to the planners and emphasize what they already know – avoid civilians at all cost – but also to go further and touch on the two programs that are available through the US military to help civilians who are harmed. We emphasized the importance of working this into their planning process ensuring that the appropriate commanders and JAG officers were trained and briefed so that if and when civilian harm happened they knew immediately and exactly what to do. Our suggestions were on almost all fronts met with interest and a keen understanding of the strategic importance of this concept to their mission.

I was impressed by the men and women we met at the training and was pleased to be invited back to participate in the next round of training in three months

Image courtesy of CIVIC