State News

May 11, 2014

’Warrior-diplomats’ hone skills at Fort Stewart

 The Humvee quickly came to a rest as four heavily armed gunmen surrounded the U.S. soldiers’ vehicle.

A barrage of questions from the apparent leader of the armed men came next:

“Who are you?” the man asked the Humvee’s driver. “What are you doing here? Do you have a passport? How do I know you are who you say you are?”

After a short conversation the topic turned to food: “Do you have any food, any water? We need you to give us your food.”

Five minutes later the soldier arming the .50-caliber M2 machine gun in the vehicle’s turret tossed the armed man a candy bar, and the Humvee sped off into the distance.

Although the scenario Thursday morning was only training on the Red Cloud Range in the middle of Fort Stewart, it was exactly the kind of situation that could come up for the soldiers in the Humvee — with the Coastal Georgia Army post’s 82nd Civil Affairs Battalion — when they’re deployed.

The unit, activated in 2012, primarily focuses on providing humanitarian assistance, disaster relief and assistance to nations in Africa.

“We pretty much act as a liaison between the local government and the military,” said Army Spc. Drew Franklin, a civil affairs medic with the unit. “It’s a really interesting part of the Army... You get the opportunity to do a lot of different things.”

Still, the soldiers — known as warrior-diplomats — must maintain proficiency at operating under combat conditions, said Lt. Col. Simon Gardner, the battalion commander.

“You have to treat everything that happens to you as a combat patrol. If you’re driving down the street . in Africa, you may have to go 30 miles to a gas station, and you don’t know what might come up,” he said. Everything is a combat operation . We’re civil affairs and we have different missions, but you have to get where you’re going to do that mission.”

That’s why the training mission’s organizers did not advise the soldiers what obstacles they might face Thursday.

The armed gunmen — actually military police officers with Fort Stewart’s Special Reaction Team — who set up an “illegal roadblock” were a complete surprise to the soldiers in the Humvees, said Sgt. 1st Class William Weyandt.

“I think all-in-all being held in the dark is actually good because in a real scenario you’re held in the dark anyway,” said the noncommissioned officer who serves as a civil affairs team sergeant. “The training kicks in, so the more you do it, you don’t even think about it. It just happens.”

The unit spent four days in the field, focusing their training on both combat operations — shooting, maneuvering and evacuating casualties — to more diplomatic operations such as engaging local leaders and hosting community meetings.

Repetition, whether it’s firing an M4 rifle or negotiating with tribal leaders, said Weyandt, is the key for soldiers’ successes and why such extensive training is necessary.

“That’s why we’re out here today, to make sure we’re doing it the right way so when it does happen, we’re ready,” he said. “It’s a long week, it’s tiring, but it’s worth it so that when we’re deployed we know we’re completely ready.”

Text Only
State News
  • One charged in death of Dalton woman, another sought

    A Dalton woman found dead in Calhoun earlier this month is believed to have died of a drug overdose after two Calhoun residents abandoned her in a car behind the VFW on East Line Street, Lt. Tony Pyle with the Calhoun Police Department said Wednesday afternoon.

    June 18, 2014

  • Guard shot at FedEx center to undergo 14th surgery

    A security guard critically wounded when a gunman went on a rampage at a FedEx facility is scheduled to undergo his 14th operation Tuesday.

    May 27, 2014

  • Arson ruled out as cause of chemical plant fire

    Police say investigators have been able to rule out arson or foul play as the cause of a massive fire at a chemical plant outside Atlanta that spewed black smoke and flames visible for miles.

    May 27, 2014

  • Teen tied to shopping cart drowns in lake

    Georgia Department of Natural Resources officials say a teen has died after being tied to a shopping cart and pushed into Lake Allatoona.

    May 25, 2014

  • Underground tattoo artists frustrate officials

    The work of tattoo artists whose living rooms double as body art studios might come cheap, but experts say the unsterile -- and illegal -- work environments could leave clients in pain long after the initial sting of the needle subsides.

    May 25, 2014

  • No runoff lets Republicans focus on Rep. Barrow

    While Georgia Republicans have to wait until July to settle runoff races for the U.S. Senate and three open House seats, one of the biggest GOP victories in the primary elections last week went to Augusta businessman Rick W. Allen.

    May 25, 2014

  • Audit probes juvenile justice turnover rate

    A state audit cites low pay, long hours and management concerns as reasons for a relatively high turnover rate at the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice.

    May 25, 2014

  • Atlanta schools ex-tech director to be sentenced

    After his relationship with the superintendent of Atlanta’s school system soured, a former technology director for the district set up a kickback scheme to pad his pockets before he left his job, according to court documents.

    May 24, 2014

  • Georgia veteran, 92, honored at surprise ceremony

    Family and friends surprised a 92-year-old World War II veteran from Georgia on Memorial Day by honoring him and presenting him with the World War II Victory Medal.

    May 24, 2014

  • Police: Massive chemical plant fire extinguished

    Authorities say a massive fire at a chemical plant outside Atlanta that spewed black smoke and flames visible for miles has been extinguished.

    May 24, 2014