The 96th Civil Affairs Battalion (Airborne) held a ceremony celebrating the presentation of the Operation RESTORE HOPE campaign streamer, June 12, 2015, at the battalion headquarters, Fort Bragg, N.C.
On September 18, 2014 the Secretary of the Army authorized the Armed Forces Expeditionary campaign streamer for Operations RESTORE HOPE and UNITED SHIELD. The campaign streamer was awarded in recognition of the efforts by members of C Company, 96th CAB during their tour of duty in Somalia.
Arriving in Mogadishu in Dec. 1992, the six civil affairs direct support teams and a company headquarters element were to provide security for the overall humanitarian relief effort occurring at the time.
“Their mission was ill defined,” said Lt. Col. William H. Wilkins, commander, 96th CAB (A), “but they were hard charging, innovative and adaptive thinkers who made the mission a success.”
While deployed, C Company’s teams arranged travel and synchronized communication for non-government organizations, conducted meetings with Somali officials and military leaders, negotiated access to refugees at the Somali national university, conducted engineer and medical assessments, identified key leaders and gauged public sentiment, and a host of other tasks.
Retired Col. Dennis J. Cahill and retired Lt.Col. Dennis Kennedy were civil affairs team leaders during that deployment.
During the ceremony they shared many of their experiences on that deployment and provided a historical perspective on the campaign and what the streamer represents and why it is important to the civil affairs community.
Cahill described how the civil affairs teams were distributed throughout the Army and how the planning progressed to get the teams involved in Somalia.
“This was an open ended security mission,” said Cahill. “When we left Green Ramp we didn’t know when we were coming home and it was the first civil affairs mission for the majority of us. In those days the 96th was the only active civil affairs unit in the Army.”
RESTORE HOPE was the first of the large scale ground force mission known as peace missions where the mission did not involve war,” said Cahill. “This seemed to define the U.S. deployments throughout the 1990s moving into Rwanda, Haiti, Bosnia and other deployments.”
“This mission changed my life,” said Kennedy. “When I went into civil affairs I was not sure of how this thing would turn out. Even though the deployment to Somalia and other locations were tough in those very austere areas, these experiences provided other opportunities for me. It really changed my life.”
“We continue to evolve as a regiment every year,” said Wilkins during the ceremony. “We get better and better for the work that was done by those who came before us– who set the foundation of what civil affairs teams do.”
First Sgt. Steven Welsh, 96th Civil Affairs Battalion (A) was narrator during the Somalia Campaign streamer ceremony.
Retired Col. Dennis J. Cahill (left) joins retired Lt. Col. Dennis Kennedy and the 96th Civil Affairs Battalion Commander, Lt. Col. William H. Wilkins, at the Somalia Campaign streamer ceremony, June 12, 2015.