Nicholette and I recently returned from supporting US military training at Fort Bragg, NC. We participated as role players in the culminating exercise for the Special Operations Civil Affairs Qualification Course (CAQC), Operation SLUSS-TILLER. Civil Affairs (CA) officers and NCOs act as liaisons between the military and civilian authorities and populations using their regional expertise, political and cultural awareness, and professional skills to address local issues. As a former CA officer, I was excited to participate in this training and was impressed by how far the course and the exercise had progressed since I was a student and participated in Operation Certain Trust. The name of the exercise was changed from to Operation SLUSS-TILLER in honor of a member of the Civil Affairs regiment killed in action in Pakistan shortly after graduating the CAQC.During this field operation, CAQC students “deploy” to the fictional Republic of Pineland for an intense and immersive scenario-based exercise where they seek to assess the problems facing this fictional country, navigate complex ethno-religious dynamics, develop solutions to a myriad of issues. This is the fourth time that Spirit of America has supported Operation SLUSS-TILLER. SoA is able to bring tremendous value to the exercise by injecting real-world examples and processes into the fictional scenario. One instructor stated “Your [SoA] involvement in this exercise has really helped to push the Civil Affairs methodology all the way to project development with Measures of Effectiveness and Measures of Performance in order to determine effects which again has been rare at SLUSS-TILLER. Great job.” At the same time, it is a great opportunity for the SoA field staff to meet and connect with future and former partners and to practice and refine our own briefings, project development skills, and organizational procedures. Building relationships and educating our partners on SoA’s mission and capabilities is a key to our success. Operation SLUSS-TILLER is a great place for us to do both before the students graduate and move on to their units and missions across the globe. Chris VanJohnson Africa Field Operations Manager
Chris is a US Army veteran having served as an Armor officer with a deployment to Baghdad in 2008-09 and then as a Special Operations Civil Affairs Officer with multiple deployments to Nepal in 2011-12.