Starting Strong: Civil Affairs Specialist (38B) Prospect

"Alanna thinks the Army can help her pursue a career in humanitarian relief. Will this former Peace Corps volunteer choose to become a ""warrior diplomat?"""

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The show you are watching is real. These people are not actors. You will follow a potential Army recruit with a backstage pass. At the end, they’ll make a life-changing decision. Join the Army, or remain a civilian. This recruit’s journey starts now.

I’m here on Fort Bragg, North Carolina, where you’ll find a unique breed of Soldier – the Civil Affairs Specialist or 38 Bravo. Around the world, these highly trained Soldiers are the link between the Army and local civilians. It’s a unique and challenging military occupational specialty, and that’s what one young woman considering Army service is about to find out.

I am Alanna Mingay. My passion lies in working in disaster relief. My interest in the Army lies mostly in helping others. It’s another way to volunteer like in the Peace Corps.

I would say, generally speaking, nobody would want me to join the Army. My Peace Corps friends, my graduate school friends, what do you think?

I have mixed feelings.

I really want to get involved in disaster relief. It’s not because I want to run around and shoot guns.

Alanna is starting her journey to find out what it takes to become an Army Civil Affairs Specialist. But first she’ll meet the Army mentor who will guide her training and decide if she measures up.

I’m gonna introduce you to Alanna Mingay. She’s going to be training with us for the next couple of days to see what it takes to become a civil affairs Soldier.

Alanna’s first challenge will be a realistic civil affairs training mission. Welcome to Freedom Village, a simulated town where civil affairs teams can test their skills.

Your task is to conduct an initial village assessment.

The team is met by trained Army role players, acting as the village mayor and his bodyguard.

I have been to communities where they see you and they say, “Oh, you’re an American. Give me lots of stuff.”

In this exercise, the team is sent to check out a village that has been hit by a flood, to see if and how the Army can help.

Well, we need a generator, we need some…

Hold on, hold on. We have to look around and we have to see what’s going on.

[In Spanish] The flood is what’s affecting us.

I was, I was nervous. I’m trying to think, what would I do as a Peace Corps volunteer, what would I do as military personnel.

[In Spanish] Please bring your wives and children first for the medical supplies.

For now we’re at the advanced air assault obstacle course. It’s pretty much made to make or break you.

You don’t have a fear of heights, do you?

I have a fear of falling.

Counting it by one, six feet, let’s go. Jump. Big jump. You got it. You got it. Here you go, big jump. Don’t look down, don’t look around.

Thank you for reminding me.

Throw a leg over.

Here you go.

Put a foot down, foot down. Good job.

Go. Here you go.

Pull, let’s go, here you go. You’re halfway up already.

Here, if you need it.

I can’t wait to see what civil affairs has for me next.

For her final exercise, Alanna’s leading her team back to Freedom Village, delivering medical supplies in a conflict zone.

It is extraordinarily intimidating to think about bringing in humanitarian aid, coming in with all these guns and weapons. That’s definitely not familiar territory.

I’m right here with you.


We brought some medical supplies.We brought some medical supplies.

Oh, you have them with you in your vehicle?

We have them with us.

We can survive with the medicine you people brought us, thank you. We can probably use that to…

[Inaudible shouts]

What are you doing first, Alanna? Let’s go.

Get ‘em out of here!

I hear something going off, I don’t know what the hell to do. My guy was down, he was right next to me and he just went down.

Got a couple of minutes to live. He’s gonna die. He’s gotta be choking. You’ve got to be kidding me. That man is gonna die, because you’re too weak to pull him.

These guys are amazing. They are highly trained Soldiers.

Now been in contact for six minutes. We should get moving.

Take him with you, get him first aid, we gotta go.

I have a newfound respect for what the Army does and how they protect our freedoms.

Hi Alanna, it’s good to see you again.

Good to see you too.

Alanna, you’ve had an incredible opportunity.

You were exposed to the high standards of the United States Army.

Now it’s time to make your final decision. Do you want to join the U.S. Army or remain a civilian?

I’m very, very interested in disaster relief. It’s been really difficult to reconcile the use of force with the humanitarian aid.

I like the challenges, I like moving outside of my comfort zone. That’s the only way you’re gonna grow. On the other hand, there’s a lot of danger, there’s a lot of violence, and that’s something that I really have to come to terms with. At this point, I’m really struggling with making a decision.