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Civil Affairs battalion activates

Unit designed to help with humanitarian assistance in Pacific

Northwest Guardian

Published: 01:48PM October 10th, 2013

A new unit rose out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord like the phoenix emblazoned on the group’s insignia and coat of arms.

The 84th Civil Affairs Battalion, also known as the Phoenix Battalion, officially became active Oct. 3 during a ceremony at Watkins Field on Lewis Main. Lieutenant Colonel Dominic Kusumoto, battalion commander, and Col. Daniel Soller, commander of the 201st Battlefield Surveillance Brigade, uncased the unit’s colors.

The unit is the last civil affairs battalion to be activated as part of the 85th Civil Affairs Brigade in Fort Hood, Texas, with the mission to organize, train, equip and deploy forces through the Asian Pacific countries.

“Our primary focus is humanitarian assistance to disaster relief,” Kusumoto said. “Our second focus is to help build partnership capacity within our host nations to deal with civilians, advising on different systems, interfacing with U.S. ambassadors and executing their plans to bring U.S. diplomacy into those countries.”

An influx of Soldiers is expected to make the unit 233 service-members strong. Its Soldiers will have language skills ranging from Mandarin Chinese to Vietnamese.

“The importance is now the Pacific Command and the United States Army Pacific have a dedicated active duty civil affairs force that can help work with the civilian population and as their support for their command,” Kusumoto said.

Kusumoto said the unit will take part in exercises like Talisman Saber in Australia and Ulchi-Freedom Guardian in the Republic of Korea to prepare for future deployments to countries in the Pacific region.

All deployments to the Asian Pacific region are expected to take place within the next two years, Kusumoto said. With the missions and exercises on the other side of the Pacific, JBLM was the logical home for the 84th CAB.

“Because of I Corps being a realized force in the Pacific Rim, it’s home for us and they’ve been a good host to us in helping establish our forces here.”

The unit has been working for several months, supporting the 7th Infantry Division’s effort to integrate civil affairs operations among the brigades.

Soller said the 84th CAB already has built a relationship with the 201st BfSB, bringing “new light” on the potential for integrating civil affairs with reconnaissance, surveillance and intelligence support.

“With our partners in the Asian Pacific region, your successes will be measured one project and one handshake at a time,” Soller said during the ceremony. “You are essential to building lasting and strong bonds with America’s neighbors to the West.”

The 85th CA Bde., formed at Fort Hood in September 2011, along with its first battalion — the 81st CA Bn.

Sister battalions to the 84th CA Bn. include the 83rd at Fort Bragg, N.C., the 82nd at Fort Stewart, Ga., and the 80th at Fort Bliss, Texas.