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Rethinking Marine Civil Affairs

Updated: Feb 8, 2020

Marine Corps Civil Affairs

Photo Above from Hamadulha, Helmand, a leader in the Barackside tribe, speaks with U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. William McCollough, the commander of 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, about district infrastructure improvements during a civil affairs group patrol in the Nawa District of Helmand province, Afghanistan, on July 30, 2009. DoD photo by Staff Sgt. William Greeson, U.S. Marine Corps.

As with their counterparts in the Army, Marine Corps civil affairs is at the cusp of major changes.

In a seminal article in the Marine Corps Gazette, CWO4 James Jabinal and Colonel Valerie Jackson outline the proposal for the future of Marine Corps CA Groups detailed in the Marine Corps Concept for Civil Affairs, the USMC equivalent to the Army's White Paper, Civil Affairs: 2025 and Beyond.

"CA forces are specially trained to conduct civil reconnaissance and civil engagements to inform, influence, and provide information environment battlespace awareness," the article points out. "By building, mapping the human terrain and networks, and identifying infrastructure for humanitarian civic assistance in support of theater security cooperation, CA teams can gain access to critical pieces of terrain for future operations."

It also goes into some depth on the role of CA in the influence and information environment, as well as calls for a reorganization of Marine CA Groups, and a "rebranding" of Marine CA.


Photo Above is U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Amelia Griffith, left, a civil affairs officer with the Joint Civil Military Operations Task Force, reviews a presentation with Philippine Marine Corps Capt. Mike Mortel

"Professionalizing, modernizing, and rebranding civil affairs is essential to integration with operations in the information environment. To compete, fight, and win in the cognitive age, the Corps must modernize and retool its critical civil affairs capability," the article concludes.

Along with Army CA, modernization of Marine CA integral to service modernization plans will be a key discussion item in the workshops at the Civil Affairs Symposium in Tampa, FL, 18-20 October.

If you haven't registered yet and want to attend click on link below:

CA Association Tampa Symposium 2019

About Authors

CWO4 Jabinal is a Civil Affairs Officer and Information Operations Planner with the Deputy Commandant for Information. He has served as a Civil Affairs Team Leader in Iraq, and a Civil-Military Operations Planner in the C9 section of RC(SW) in Afghanistan. As a civilian, he is the Deputy Director for the Marine Corps Civil-Military Operations School and the Occupational Field Manager/MOS specialist for Civil Affairs.

Col Jackson is a communications and civil affairs officer, now serving with the Deputy Commandant for Information. The previous commander of 4th Civil Affairs Group and MWCS-48, she also served with MEB-Afghanistan and as the Operations Officer for the Marine Corps Civil-Military Operations School. Her civilian job is Director of the Brute Krulak Center for Innovation and Creativity at the Marine Corps University.

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