NEWS | March 9, 2019

U.S. Army Seeks Greater Cooperation with Regional NGOs

By Sgt. Linsey Williams Task Force Spartan

Under the bright February morning sun, four soldiers dressed in civilian attire head to downtown Kuwait City for a meeting at the Kuwait Red Crescent Society (KRCS) headquarters. At first glance, this might not appear to be a military mission, but these men belong to the U.S. Army Central and Task Force Spartan Civil Affairs teams.

From artillery to explosive ordinance disposal experts, U.S. soldiers supporting Operation Spartan Shield have been working side-by-side with their Kuwaiti counterparts to build military interoperability. The goal of bringing together soldiers and the KRCS is to build civil and military coordination so that in times of disaster or war, the organizations involved can work together seamlessly to assist the civilians who are affected.

“Generally, in stabilizing operations, civil affairs would work with non-governmental organizations to provide food, water and basic needs,” explains Capt. Pil Jeon, Civil Affairs deputy for the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division which is deployed in support of Task Force Spartan. “What we’re doing here now isn’t a combat mission, but we are reaching out in case we should be called upon to support disaster-relief efforts. We want to understand the Kuwait Emergency Management Center capabilities and build interoperability [with them].”

Inside the KRCS building, the soldiers were greeted warmly by the Director of Disaster Management, Youself Al Merag, and Operations Center Coordinator Iman Haidar. Merag, Haidar, and the Civil Affairs team discussed how the Red Crescent helped those in need after the historic flooding in Kuwait in November 2018; the kinds of training the U.S. Army and KRCS might participate in together; and how the KRCS operations center tracks disasters around the globe in real-time. The headquarters is not unlike a military operations center, tracking its troops around an area of operations.

Lt. Col. Charles Moore, Civil Affairs staff officer for the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division, described the importance of this first meeting. “In times of peace, it’s important to establish relationships. We want to reduce friction on the battlefield and make sure people are taken care of. In times of military conflict, natural or manmade disaster, we’re trying to ensure that civilians suffer least and speed up the process of recovering their lives.”

All agreed that the meeting was a positive first step towards cooperation to ensure assistance reaches those who need it in times of emergency.