Army

June 28, 2012

4th Stryker Brigade paralegal on fourth NTC rotation but still learning

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Sgt. Christopher M. Gaylord
5th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

Sgt. 1st Class Charles Davis, senior paralegal for Headquarters, Headquarters Company, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, provides compensation to an Afghan role player in the form of 50,662 Afghani – or 1,050 U.S. dollars – at the National Training Center June 11 after Soldiers in a convoy notionally hit the local’s vehicle. The 4th Stryker Brigade is currently prepping at NTC during most of the month of June for a fall deployment to Afghanistan – the brigade’s first deployment to the country.

Riding through the sand in a Humvee away from an entry control point on the National Training Center June 11, Sgt. 1st Class Charles Davis embraced one of his most cherished sentiments.

“There’s always something you can learn,” said the senior paralegal for Headquarters, Headquarters Company, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division.

Davis, currently stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., has served as an Army paralegal for 15 years.  He has deployed to Kuwait once and to Iraq twice, and he’s been to the expansive training center four times.

But still, he said, he’s doing things that, even in the bulk of his extensive career, have never much crossed his path.

“I’ve predominantly punished Soldiers who have committed offenses,” he said.

But now, he’s learning to deal with Afghan locals – role players from the country who offer units at NTC a realistic experience. His main focus: pay them compensation if the Army damages any of their property or kills any of their farm animals.

“Accidents happen,” said Davis, a native of Williamston, N.C. “We have a lot of vehicles, a lot of Soldiers on deployments for the first time that may not have the experience driving vehicles and things of that nature.  But when those things happen, we have mechanisms in place to compensate for them.”

The scenario in this case: pay a local 10,500 Afghani – amounting to 217 U.S. dollars – for damages to his vehicle after Soldiers in a convoy accidentally ran into it.

“It shows our maturity and responsibility,” he said. “If we were just destroying stuff, and we weren’t owning up to it and actually compensating people for it, I think that would be a worse thing.”

“We want to make right with the public, so I think that’s awesome,” said Spc. Elisabeth Barnett, Davis’s driver and assistant for his June 11 mission and a paralegal herself.

Barnett held Davis’s rifle as he met with the role-playing Afghan local – one of his first real encounters with the traditions of Afghan culture.

Afterward, he talked about some things he could have done better, noting that he should have returned the local’s traditional greeting, “As-Salamu Alaykum.”

In previous rotations at the training center, Davis has never dealt with claims for local nationals, and while at JBLM, he said, civilians handle claims for residents of the surrounding communities.  But here he has some time to work out all the kinks before the brigade’s Afghanistan deployment.

“With any job you do, no one ever knows everything,” Davis said. “There’s always something you can improve on, that you can learn to make you a better person and add to your toolkit.”

That’s especially the mentality out here, where curveballs are thrown, missions can change at a moment’s notice and the learning never ends.




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