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JSOTF-P Selected for Civil Affairs Evaluation Test Program

Feb 18, 2010

By Lt.j.g. Theresa Donnelly, Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines Public Affairs

ZAMBOANGA, Philippines -- U.S. service members and supporting contractors from the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) Joint Test and Evaluation (JT&E) Program selected the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P) as the location for a 30-day field test of newly developed civil information management procedures Jan. 15-Feb. 15.

The Joint Test (JT) began at Camp Navarro in Zamboanga, Philippines. As with all of the OSD's JT&E projects, the driving force of this JT was finding ways to improve joint mission capabilities for the war fighter.

The Joint Civil Information Management (J-CIM) JT project was established in Aug. 2008 with sponsorship by the U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM).

The project is largely driven by the Army civil affairs community's recognition of the need to standardize civil information collection, consolidation and sharing among military agencies, inter-agency organizations, international groups and Non-Government Organizations (NGO).

The J-CIM JT test developed Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures (TTP) for civil information management will help achieve unity of effort and a whole-of-government approach to challenges teams face while performing their duties.

"This program is about elements on the ground collecting physical data about the civil domain meaning infrastructure or economic development. This is the first step in trying to standardize how we collect assessment data, so the right people can get the right information at the right time," said Army Col. Donald Jackson, J-CIM JT director.

"Additionally this program is not just a military-centric operation. For example, here it is about empowering and supporting the Philippines and the Philippine government and working with non-military agencies that are supporting this theater," he said.

Jackson also said that for military commanders to understand the ground operation they need to be able to paint a picture of the environment and civil information helps them to do that. He also explained that this is not just limited to the Army Civil Affairs Teams, but that all branches of service, U.S. government agencies and NGOs can use civil information to make decisions about the needs of a particular area.

Other examples of the data teams may want to gather include demographics of a particular region, the number of elementary schools, key community leaders or how many engineering projects have been completed in a particular barangay (community).

The eventual outcome is to develop standardized data-collection, consolidation and sharing procedures which can be accessed via an unclassified database. Currently, civil information is stored in several locations, varying formats and often cannot be shared with different government agencies. Additionally, much of this open-source information is only available on government secret computers.

Creating a centralized mechanism for all key stakeholders to obtain agreed-upon information can help commanders plan infrastructure projects, medical and veterinarian missions and examine best practices.

The J-CIM JT team was accompanied by six Army Soldiers from the 95th Civil Affairs Brigade, headquartered at Fort Bragg, N.C. The team traveled to Basilan, Cotabato, Marawi and Sulu, collecting data on how the JSOTF-P forces executed their missions using the J-CIM developed TTPs.

Although JSOTF-P was the platform for the J-CIM program, the TTPs used in this program will be used by all services and government agencies such as United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and others that are operating within a joint military environment.

In fact, USAID signed an Administrative and Procedural Agreement on Dec. 15, signifying the partnership to develop best practices in recording information on humanitarian construction projects. Additionally, this is the first time an inter-agency has been on a charter for a joint test.

For the teams on the ground here, going through the evaluation process gives the civil affairs team encouragement that this way of consolidating agreed-upon information will greatly enhance their capabilities to effectively carry out the mission.

"This has been a great way for us to develop a way forward for all the agencies that we work with," said Army Staff Sgt. Jason Duffield. "Having a hand in that process was actually kind of cool, and I can really see how this will enhance what we do here."

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