About the Author: Ted Kanamine serves as the Senior Planner and Infrastructure Advisor in the Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization.
Deploying to Afghanistan necessitates being able to operate and execute a mission in an austere and very stressful environment. In order to sufficiently prepare members entering into unique and challenging field locations, where they often work in very close coordination with the U.S. military, deploying civilians are required to expand upon their usual classroom-based courses by participating in joint civil-military, exercise-based training in Muscatatuck, Indiana.
Designed by the Department of State and the Department of Defense and managed with the support of the Foreign Service Institute and the Indiana National Guard, the week-long course in Muscatatuck simulates full immersion into a military forward operating base in Afghanistan. Through realistic role-playing exercises with Afghans, civilian students from many different government agencies not only become familiar with the Afghan culture and the myriad of stakeholders that will be key to their mission, but they develop an important awareness of what living and working with military members in a non-permissive, tactical environment is like.
Subject matter experts (SMEs), civilians from a range of different U.S. Government agencies, including individuals from State's Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction & Stabilization (S/CRS), who have recently returned from Afghanistan, provide students unique pre-deployment preparation and training by teaching them how to realistically engage Afghan officials and function in a variety of military tactical situations. Ongoing participation of these returning members offers students access to the most current information and most useful advice so they can effectively navigate Muscatatuck's realistic simulations and, eventually, succeed in the field.
During training, students also learn what civilian-military planning and coordination really entail. As students practice acting in an integrated command team, they must address issues from both the military's security perspective and the civilian's governance and development priorities in order to collaboratively plan how to execute the mission and effectively partner with their Afghan counterparts on the ground. During these simulations, students have the unique opportunity to learn the challenges of coordinated planning and the importance of adapting and/or re-shaping perspectives in accordance with U.S. objectives in order to develop solutions and empower the Afghan government to provide security and economic development in Afghanistan.
As of April 2010, more than 300 civilians from State, USAID, Agriculture, Treasury, and Justice have been trained at Muscatatuck. The July 4 Washington Post Magazine profiles a USAID employee who is participating in civ-mil training at Muscatatuck in preparation for deploying to Afghanistan. The article can be found here.