Civil affairs

Civil Affairs (CA) is a term used by both the United Nations and by military institutions (such as the US military), but for different purposes in each case.


United Nations Civil Affairs

The UN uses the term "Civil Affairs" differently from other - mainly military - institutions. Civil affairs officers in UN peace operations are not military officers but are civilian UN staff members who are often at the forefront of a mission’s interaction with local government officials, civil society, and other civilian partners in the international community.

Definition: "UN Civil Affairs components work at the social, administrative and sub-national political levels to facilitate the countrywide implementation of peacekeeping mandates and to support the population and government in strengthening conditions and structures conducive to sustainable peace.",[1]

There are currently around 500 UN Civil Affairs Officers in 13 UN Peacekeeping Operations worldwide. Civil Affairs components perform one or more of three core roles, depending on the UN Security Council mandate given to a particular peacekeeping mission. In each role the work of Civil Affairs intersects with, supports and draws upon the work of a variety of other actors. Depending on the mandate, the three core roles are:

i. Cross-mission representation, monitoring and facilitation at the local level;
ii. Confidence-building, conflict management and support to reconciliation;
iii. Support to the restoration and extension of state authority.

US Military Civil Affairs

A civil affairs soldier with the 411th Civil Affairs Battalion assesses the reconstruction of sewage lines in Baghdad June 11, 2003. The 411th was the first Reserve Civil Affairs unit to enter Iraq, and the first to return for a second rotation.[2][3]

According to the U.S. Army, "Civil Affairs units help military commanders by working with civil authorities and civilian populations in the commander’s area of operations to lessen the impact of military operations on them during peace, contingency operations and declared war." [4] With their expertise in civil matters, they are the principal unit in assisting a commander in the conduct of civil-military operations.

CA units act as a liaison between the civilian inhabitants of a warzone or disaster area and the military presence, both informing the local commander of the status of the civilian populace as well as effecting assistance to locals by either coordinating military operations with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and IGO's or distributing directly aid and supplies.

Consisting primarily of civilian experts such as doctors, lawyers, engineers, police, firemen, bankers, computer programmers, farmers, and others, CA soldiers provide critical expertise to host-nation governments and are also able to assess need for critical infrastructure projects such as roads, clinics, schools, power plants, water treatment facilities, etc. Once a project has been decided on, a contract is put out at a civil-military operations center for local contractors to come and bid. CA teams will periodically check up on the status of the project to make sure the money is being well-spent.

CA provides the commander with cultural expertise, assesses the needs of the civilian populace, handles civilians on the battlefield, refugee operations, keeps the commander informed of protected targets such as schools, churches, hospitals, etc., and interfaces with local and international NGOs and private volunteer organizations, which provides the commander with a unique battlefield overlay of all civilian activity, ongoing infrastructure projects, and the presence and mission of NGOs in the area.

History of US Military Civil Affairs

U.S. Military Civil Affairs is based upon the principle that civilians in a battle zone cannot be ignored, with a legal basis that includes the Lieber Code, the Hague Accord, the Geneva Conventions, and international law. Throughout U.S. history the U.S. Army was involved in Civil Affairs and civic action. Civil Affairs has its origins in military governments that were and are established when a country is occupied during war.

United States Air Force

The Air Force has deployed united in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom that have directly integrated into Army Civil Affairs Battalions. Such units include the 16th Squadron, 732nd Expeditionary Air Wing (Civil Affairs/Public Works) which was assigned to the 411th Civil Affairs Battalion. During the 402nd Civil Affairs BN deployment to Iraq in April 2006 to April 2007, members of the United States Air Force provided Airman for logistical support for HHC and for the Provincial Reconstruction Teams throughout their area of operations.

United States Army

Spc. Danielle Curtis with the 401st Civil Affairs Battalion, Webster, New York, demonstrates to students the proper way to apply a field dressing during a basic first aid class at the Mehry Girls School in the city of Herat, Afghanistan, April 29, 2004.

96% of the Civil Affairs personnel come from the United States Army Reserve and are usually tasked to support regular Army units upon mobilization. This allows combatant commanders to utilize reservists with civilian skill sets such as lawyers, city managers, economists, veterinarians, teachers, policemen, and other civilian occupations who are more knowledgeable and better suited for restoration of stability and reconstruction (nation building) tasks than soldiers from the active military.

The remaining 4% of Civil Affairs personnel are active duty soldiers assigned to the 95th Civil Affairs Brigade, stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, which is a rapidly deployable unit that supports the Army Special Operations Command. Active CA are Civil Affairs Generalists, selected from around the Army.

Friends Of Civil Affairs or "FOCA" is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to the soldiers and families, present and past, of 95th Civil Affairs Brigade (Airborne), of the United States Army Special Operations Command (USASOC).

CA is task organized between four reserve Civil Affairs Commands (CACOMS) which integrate at the strategic and operational level with theater commands and joint/combined task forces (JTF/CJTF). CA brigades comprise these CACOMS and integrate at the corps. At the tactical level, active duty maneuver divisions are augmented by the CA battalions. The four CACOMs are the 350th CACOM, the 351st CACOM, the 352nd CACOM, and the 353rd CACOM.

Typically, a CA battalion will contain a headquarters company, and one CA company for each maneuver brigade. Each CA company contains CA teams (known as CATs) which integrate at the maneuver battalion level. There will usually be one CA team per maneuver battalion. In this manner, the division will have OPCON (operational control) over a CA battalion, a brigade will have OPCON over a CA company and an infantry battalion will have TACON (tactical control) over a CA team. The CA battalion retains ADCON (administrative control) for its elements deployed in theater.

The CA battalion and its subordinate companies and teams become organic parts of their maneuver unit, augmenting the unit's S-9 or G-9 Civil Military Operations Cell, providing cultural expertise, functional specialty expertise, direct support tactical civil affairs, and establishing civil-military operations centers (known as CMOCs, CIMICs or CMCCs, depending on the doctrine in use) and Provincial Reconstruction Teams for the geographic area the maneuver unit is responsible for.

FM 41-10, Fig 3.1, Typical Levels of CA Support
Iraqi farmers stand outside a rural school while it's inspected by a U.S. Army Civil Affairs team for possible reconstruction funds (near Baghdad, April 2005).

Within the United States Army, Reserve CA units are administered through United States Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command (Airborne), or USACAPOC(A), a subordinate of U.S. Army Reserve Command. USACAPOC(A) contains psychological operations (PO) and civil affairs (CA) units, consisting of Army reserve elements. USACAPOC(A) was founded in 1985. It is headquartered at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

On 1 October 2006, USAR Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations units realigned from falling under the United States Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) to the United States Army Reserve Command (USARC) for ADCON (administrative control). Training and doctrine relating to USACAPOC(A) is still provided by USASOC's subordinate command, the United States Army John Fitzgerald Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School (USAJFKSWCS).

US Army Civil Affairs Training
  • Initial Entry Training (IET)

Upon completion of basic training, a soldier slotted in a Civil Affairs Unit will attend the 10-week Civil Affairs Advanced Individual Training (AIT) course at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School (Airborne) located at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. The 3rd Battalion of the 1st Special Warfare Training Group (Airborne) is responsible for the training. Both Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations trainees are assigned to Alpha Company. Upon completion of the 10-week course, (the original 13-week course was lengthened to 15 weeks in 2008, then shortened to 10 weeks in 2010) the student will be able to interpret U.S. and foreign maps; conduct civil, governmental, humanitarian, and defense assistance; apply organizational and leadership skills required in field operations; and conduct research on documents and other aspects of urban and regional studies. The instruction is conducted by lecture, discussion, and practical exercises such as map reading, land navigation, communications, and civil affairs planning.

The American Council on Education recommends college credit be awarded in the lower-division baccalaureate or associate's degree category two semester hours in map-reading, three in public administration, and one in military science for this training. The soldier is awarded the Military Occupational Specialty designation of 38B10. All active duty enlisted will attend airborne school and language school, while reservists will have a chance to compete for these slots.

  • Reclassification

•Active Duty enlisted soldiers in the rank of sergeant and staff sergeant who have a valid security clearance are considered for training. Those soldiers selected to reclassify to Civil Affairs must attend the 44-week Qualification Course (CA SPEC) offered at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. During this course, soldiers learn to prepare, execute, and transition CA core tasks, CA operations (CAO), and civil-military operations (CMO). Training is mission-oriented and encompasses language and culture, allowing for maximum hands-on use of CAO/CMO doctrinal procedures during practical exercises (PEs) and a culminating exercise (CULEX) that exposes students to realistic operational situations and environmental elements.

•Reserve enlisted soldiers wishing to reclassify to Civil Affairs must attend the Civil Affairs Reclassification Course which is offered at several posts throughout the country. Currently, training for combat, combat support, and combat service support is organized through regional training commands. The six Civil Affairs schoolhouses report to the 3rd Brigade (CA/PO) 100th Division, located at Fort Totten, New York. These units are the 5th Battalion (CA), 95th Regiment, of Fort Sill, Oklahoma; 5th Battalion (CA), 98th Regiment of Fort Dix, New Jersey; the 12th Battalion (CA), 100th Regiment of Fort Knox, Kentucky; the 4th Battalion (CA), 104th Regiment, of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington; and the 5th Battalion (CA), 108th Regiment of Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

The training conducted is offered over an abbreviated period of four weeks. Newly enlisted Civil Affairs soldiers attend a fast-paced 13-week course, which includes land navigation training (mounted and dismounted), weapons training (rifle and pistol), night vision device training, negotiations training and an extensive field training exercise held at Camp Mackall, North Carolina, located 50 miles outside of Fort Bragg. As of 2005, only one of 10 Soldiers that enlisted in the Army qualified for Civil Affairs/Psychological Operations MOS. Since 2008, the drill sergeants that made the AIT one of the toughest in the United States Army, have been no longer a part of the AIT course (the AIT course did not fall under normal Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) commands like every other AIT). Students must complete the Nasty Nick (Special Forces) Obstacle Course before graduation.

  • Officer Training

For officers, Civil Affairs is considered a Functional Area and therefore newly commissioned officers are not eligible to begin their career as a CA officer. Once officers have completed their Basic Officer Leadership Courses (BOLC I and II) and that in their respective branches (BOLC III), they may apply for selection to the Civil Affairs Qualification Course, which is located at Fort Bragg.

The training consists of a distance learning phase plus five weeks of resident learning. Upon graduation, active duty Civil Affairs officers will be assigned to the 95th Civil Affairs Brigade (Airborne) which reports directly to United States Army Special Operations Command (Airborne). Reserve Officers may forgo the language training and be assigned directly to a TPU Reserve Civil Affairs unit.

Additionally, the recently established 1st Training Brigade, USACAPOC(A) conducts Mobilization Civil Affairs Courses under the direct leadership of the 2nd Battalion, 1st Training Brigade. These mobilization courses are for Army and joint service Officers. The course itself is modeled upon the current Civil Affairs Qualification course Program of Instruction; consisting of 8 weeks of classroom training and a final week long culminating field training exercise. Upon completion of the MCAC Soldiers, Sailors and Marines may deploy in GWOT operations as joint fills for US Army Civil Affairs Officer Requirements.

United States Marine Corps

The Marine Corps currently has two permanent CA units: 3rd Civil Affairs Group (3d CAG) and 4th CAG. Both are in the Marine Corps Reserves. 5th and 6th CAGs were created provisionally in 2005-06 for Operation Iraqi Freedom, but each were stood down after one deployment to Iraq.[5] Artillery units augmented by Marines from the CAGs also deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan to serve in a civil affairs capacity.[6] Recently, the Marine Corps has added active duty civil affairs detachments and plans on adding two more CAGs in the future.

United States Navy

The Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC) officially established its newest command, Maritime Civil Affairs Group (MCAG) during a ceremony at Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek on 30 March 2007. In an effort to consolidate staffs and resources, CNO Notice 5400 of 9 July 2009 redesignated MCAG and Expeditionary Training Groups as Maritime Civil Affairs and Security Training (MCAST) Command and relocated the command to Virginia Beach. MCAST Command officially stood up 1 October 2009.

Maritime Civil Affairs Teams (MCATs) lessen the impact of military operations imposed during peace and periods of declared war, and increase the impact of humanitarian civil assistance (HCA) and contingency operations in support of theater security cooperation plans.

MCA forces provide assistance with the restoration of local infrastructure in the aftermath of military operations, natural and man-made disasters and regional engagement activities in order to achieve shared mutual interests.

In order to maximize its effectiveness, each deployed MCAT is regionally focused and trained with the necessary language skills and cultural awareness. The teams are responsible for streamlining and coordinating the efforts of the Department of Defense, Department of State, and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

Each Maritime Civil Affairs sailor is responsible for shaping the regional perception of the U.S. and gaining the support of the local populace, preventing it from being influenced by forces of instability, such as terrorism, piracy, crime and natural disaster.

Other Organizations

New York Guard

In the New York State Guard, one of approximately 25 states with State Defense Forces, (not to be confused with the New York Army National Guard), the term 'Civil Affairs' has a slightly different connotation. The Civil Affairs units include lawyers, judges, engineers, doctors and other professionals and paraprofessionals committed to voluntary, part-time military service in support of the New York National Guard and U.S. Military Reserve Units from all branches. When soldiers are called up for duty, the New York Guard makes sure their legal needs are attended to so that they can serve with the peace of mind of knowing that their affairs are in order. Civil Affairs soldiers draft their wills, prepare powers of attorney and other necessary documents, and advise them of their rights as soldiers under federal law and as citizens of the United States. There are five units, one in each brigade of the Guard, including the 5th Civil Affairs Regiment, Yonkers, NY; 7th Civil Affairs Regiment, New York City, NY; 13th Civil Affairs Regiment, Garden City, NY; 23rd Civil Affairs Regiment, Latham, NY; and the 209th Civil Affairs Regiment, Buffalo, NY.

Military Civil Affairs Worldwide

United Kingdom

The British Army has a Civil Affairs Group, formed in 1997 and consisting primarily of Territorial Army personnel. Most personnel are members of the Royal Engineers and the group is administered by the Central Volunteer Headquarters Royal Engineers (CVHQ RE), based at Gibraltar Barracks, Blackwater, Camberley, Surrey. Members of the group have been deployed operationally in Bosnia, Kosovo, Albania, Macedonia, East Timor, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan and Iraq.

The British Army first formed CA units in 1943, and by August 1944 there were 3,600 CA personnel in France with the 21st Army Group.

The Netherlands

The Royal Netherlands Army's Civil Affairs unit is 1 CIMIC Battalion. The staff consist of regular soldiers. Other personnel are reservists with a civilian occupation. Members of the battalion have been deployed to Bosnia; Macedonia; Africa and Afghanistan. The unit is, as of early 2009, based in Apeldoorn.

Civil Affairs in popular media


  1. ^ DPKO/DFS Policy Directive on Civil Affairs (April 2008)
  2. ^ Office of the Adjutant General, United States Army.
  3. ^ Meritorious Unit Commendation, dtd 10 October 4–25 June 5, United States Army.
  4. ^ U.S. Army (1 June 2011). ""What is Civil Affairs?"". Retrieved 11 July 2011. 
  5. ^ Marines magazine. "Unit Profile: 6th Civil Affairs Group, 2nd Marine Division", 34, no. 4, October–December 2005. Marines magazine website, accessed September 3, 2007.
  6. ^ McCullough, Amy. "Civil affairs MOSs being developed for enlisted", Marine Corps Times, February 2, 2010. Assessed April 23, 2010.
  7. ^ Pulitzer Prize by Category -- Novels


  • Sorley, Lewis, A Better War: The Unexamined Victories and Final Tragedy of America's Last Years in Vietnam, ISBN 0-15-601309-6

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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