Civilian Prepare for Deployment At Camp Atterbury
EDINBURGH, Ind. - Silence settles over a simple conference room as the Afghan Chief of Police greets visiting U.S. civilian workers accompanied by a military security force. Through an interpreter he gets to know a little bit about each worker, their role while overseas and what they think of his country. After introductions, he begins to discuss issues in the province and possible improvements while his secretary, her hair covered by a traditional scarf, records their interaction.
Though it sounds real, this setting is merely an immersion class conducted for students of the Civilian Expeditionary Workforce (CEW) during their training at Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center in Edinburgh, Ind.
Students of CEW undergo a comprehensive one to two-week training course beginning at Muscatatuck Training Range, a subsidiary of Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center, and ending at Atterbury before deploying to their respective theatre.
The most recent class began training on Nov. 4 in preparation for deployment to Afghanistan.
Students of the Civilian Expeditionary Workforce participate in a military convoy around the Muscatatuck Training Range to simulate traveling conditions while deployed in Afghanistan.
Photo: Ashley Roy Atterbury-Muscatatuck Public Affairs
According to Martin Reutebuch, CEW Project Manager at McKellar Corporation, and Mike Johnson, CEW Site Training Coordinator, the training provided through Atterbury and its Muscatatuck Training Range is important because of the resources available and the interactive platform students are exposed to.
Civilians who deploy through CEW are volunteers selected by the Department of Defense to fill openings overseas. While some are former military or experienced government workers, many have never worked with the military before, which is why the training is so important, said Johnson.
During training students learn about national and personal security procedures, how to work with military forces and how best to work in a diverse group, among other things. The classroom portion of training is only the beginning as students progress to interactive sessions that include traveling in a convoy and aircraft and taking part in vignettes designed to fully immerse students in deployment scenarios.
Unique to CEW is the opportunity for students to interact with native Afghan cultural advisors. Role players come from across the nation to help students understand culture and traditions, language and what to expect while deployed.
"We use Afghans for the training, we don't use people dressed up as Afghans. They're [students] able to interact with the Afghans in their native tongue. They are put into scenarios that are realistic; that they might face. It is easier to make mistakes in Indiana than to make mistakes the first time they get in country. They have the chance to make those mistakes and learn," said Reutebuch.
Role players are eager to help students learn customs, and cultural immersions demonstrate potential situations beforehand so the students are not as culture shocked when first arriving in country, said Ivan Evancho, CEW operations at McKellar Corporation.
McKellar Corporation is contracted to provide training for CEW. The partnership McKellar has with Atterbury is vital to providing high-quality training. With the many forces that are available at Atterbury and the Muscatatuck range, McKellar provides a realistic training simulation to the students, said Reutebuch.
Established in 2009 by the Department of Defense, the CEW program is an integrated part of Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center. Since the inaugural class of 16 students completed their training course at the installation in January 2009, the program has deployed thousands of civilians in support of wartime missions in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as other military operations around the world.
What started out as a two-week course responsible for deploying one group of civilians per month, has grown into an ongoing program that adapts to fit the needs of overseas requirements and the civilians that are deploying according to Johnson.
"With theatre requirements needing more civilians, the CEW program has gotten to be where we send civilians every week," said Johnson. Evancho said many past students contact them about their experiences once deployed. Having these connections allows CEW to take their comments into consideration when shaping new training, and helps them stay current on trends overseas to provide the most realistic and applicable training possible.
J. Edward Fox, former Assistant Secretary for the Department of Homeland Security, provides a class on national security to the students and believes CEW is important to success in overseas missions. "I am hoping and expecting that CEW will become a permanent part of our national security apparatus and be available to help us out wherever we face challenges," said Fox.
While the current class will complete their training Nov.18, the Civilian Expeditionary Workforce is not done and will continue to train civilians for as long as needed. "You're still going to have the civilian support role no matter where we're at," said Johnson.
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