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Roundtable Report: “Civil Affairs: A Force for Winning without Fighting”

The 2023 Civil Affairs Roundtable on April 11th closed out the annual cycle of Civil Affairs intellectual readiness and capitalization, academic credentialing, and professional and force development on “Civil Affairs: A Force for Winning without Fighting.” The online event involving over 300 participants from around the world served to help deepen and broaden the formal processes for CA force development, advance a more strategic, comprehensive, and integrative understanding of civil-military capacities and capabilities, and foster a learning organization that includes allied and counterpart civil-military organizations and interorganizational partners.

Newly elected Association president Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Hugh Van Roosen re-capped the main points of this year’s discussion. First is the relationship between CA and integrated deterrence under the National Defense Strategy; second is how to use CA as force for winning without fighting; and the third is fostering a better understanding of CA as an information maneuver force and not just an enabler or force multiplier. The goal of the discussion was to draw out lessons, observations, and recommendations to guide the way forward for not just the development of the CA Corps but the development of the Association, he pointed out.

As every year, the Roundtable shifted the CA Corps’ annual force and professional development discussion towards how to best ready CA forces within the context of new strategic and policy guidance, this time on the CA role in integrated deterrence and strategic competition as explained by two politico-military keynote speakers: Christopher P. Maier, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict; and Anne A. Witkowsky, Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations (CSO), U.S. Department of State. Additional context came courtesy of the Irregular War Initiative and Army Cyber Institute at West Point. Dr. Stanislava Mladenova, Fellow at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and Dr. Karen Guttieri from the Army Cyber Institute and Department of Social Sciences at West Point explored the relationship between integrated deterrence, irregular and cyber-warfare (respectively), and civil affairs.

Related institutional stakeholders, including the Civil Affairs Proponent, U.S. Army Civil Affairs & Psychological Operations Command (Airborne), 95th Civil Affairs Brigade (Special Operations) (Airborne), the U.S. Army Peacekeeping & Stability Operations Institute, and others responded with respect to their own CA force development and mission readiness initiatives. They also provided updates and reviewed initiatives to foster enterprise learning through an expanded civil-military learning network.

The editors of Warrior-DiplomatsColonel Arnel P. David, U.S. Army Strategist and Association Vice President, Nicholas Krohley, Ph.D., Frontline Advisory, and First Sergeant Sean Acosta, Deputy Editor, Eunomia Journal—provided additional perspectives from their new seminal work on Civil Affairs in the 21st century.

Last, as always, was the open discussion on the next annual theme for the 2023-24 Civil Affairs Issue Papers, 2023 Symposium, and 2024 Roundtable. Later on, with input from numerous partners and CA stakeholder commands, the Association published its call for papers on “Campaigning and Civil Affairs,” with papers due on September 15th.

The Roundtable agenda, slide decks, and other documents related to the discussion are available in the “2022 Roundtable” folder in the Research Library on the Association website. The 2022-23 Civil Affairs Issue Papers and Roundtable Report are also available on the website. Videos of the discussions are viewable on the Eunomia Journal YouTube channel.

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