Story and photo by Andrea Sutherland
As Command Sgt. Maj. Aaron A. Miller slipped the casing off the guidon for the 440th Civil Affairs Battalion, there was a metaphorical sigh of relief from commanders.
“We’ve come a long way in the last year,” said Maj. George Meyer, 440th Civil Affairs Bn. “A year ago we had five men huddled around a cubicle. … We started it from scratch.”
After more than a year of planning and preparing, the civil affairs unit officially activated Saturday during a ceremony at Founders Field.
“The 440th Civil Affairs Bn. is forging a beginning,” said Lt. Col. Damone Garner, commander, during his remarks to the audience. “Today … the 440th Civil Affairs Bn., like others before us, have a rendezvous with destiny.”
Garner spoke about the history of civil affairs units, dating back to the Civil War.
“Civil affairs was originally created as an ad hoc from the forces available to handle the vast and cumbersome civilian issues that were being created by a military force conducting operations throughout populated areas in response to loss of life, property damage and military government,” he said. “During World War II a civil affairs division was created and for the first time, civil affairs and military government staff sections were added to theater army, corps and even division level. As a result of this creation, civil affairs Soldiers were called governors as they led and managed the Marshall Plan.”
Garner said the role of civil affairs units is no longer to conduct military government operations, but to support military commanders by engaging civilians in the operational environment.
“In addition, our mission is to support the civil administration, which includes humanitarian assistance, disaster response and emergency assistance, population resource control and military civic action,” he said.
A reserve component of the U.S. Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command (Airborne), the 163 Soldiers from the 440th come from numerous backgrounds including public safety, medical and engineering fields.
During his remarks to the commanders and Soldiers of the 440th, Col. Steve J. Ford, commander, 364th Civil Affairs Brigade (Airborne), Portland, Ore., praised the men and women who chose to serve.
“Being a citizen Soldier isn’t easy,” he said. “You must balance your life between your Family, civilian job and your life as a Soldier. Train hard and challenge yourself to be the best in all that you do.”