What is Civil Affairs?

Joint and Army doctrine defines civil affairs as “designated active component and reserve component forces and units organized, trained, and equipped specifically to conduct civil affairs operations and to support civil-military operations,” which in turn support broader U.S. interagency stabilization efforts. CA is the Defense Department’s “primary force specifically trained and educated to understand, engage, and influence the civil component of the operational environment, conduct military government operations, and provide civil considerations expertise.”

 

Far more than a force multiplier, CA is a national strategic land power capability to consolidate military and security gains into political and civil outcomes – before and during as well as after decisive military action. Beyond its more storied role in transition management, from war to peace and from military to civilian lead, it engages partners and others in the “human geography” in support of national interests and policy objectives in all operations, phases, and levels.

In today’s people-centric irregular conflicts of influence and great power competition, CA has even greater importance as a unique economy-of-force capability that helps commanders preserve their combat power and concentrate its lethality only when and where necessary—and make good on the blood and treasure they may have to employ on the nation’s behalf.

 

In other words, Army and Marine civil affairs are an integral part of winning and not just fighting wars, or to “secure the victory,” per the Regiment’s motto.

 

Civil affairs’ enduring values-added stretch back well over a century. You can learn more by looking at the civil affairs briefing and notes on this website.

Civil Affairs Corps

Department of the Army General Order (AGO) 1989-22 established the U.S. Army Reserve Civil Affairs Corps in June 1989.  Since civil affairs was only a branch in the U.S. Army Reserve, the Chief, Army Reserve (CAR) was responsible for developing procedures and policy governing regimental affiliation of civil affairs units and personnel and for maintaining Corps history, awards, honorary positions, and esprit de corps.

Civil Affairs Branch Insignia

All members of the Civil Affairs Corps wear the branch insignia of the Civil Affairs Branch. 

According to Department of the Army Pamphlet (DA PAM) 670-1, Guide to the Wear and Appearance of Army Uniforms and Insignia, 25 May 2017, “The officer branch insignia is a gold-colored globe 5/8 inch in diameter, upon which is superimposed a torch of liberty, 1 inch in height, surmounted by a scroll and sword crossed in saltire. Enlisted personnel have the same design on a 1-inch disk, in gold-colored metal.”

  • The globe indicates the worldwide areas of Civil Affairs operations.

  • The torch is from the Statue of Liberty, a symbol associated with the spirit of the United States.  It also represents the enlightened performance of duty.

  • The scroll and sword depict the civil and military aspects of the civil affairs mission.

The branch insignia was designed and approved coincident with the establishment of The Civil Affairs and Military Government Branch in the U.S. Army Reserve in 1955.  On 30 April 1956, the Office of Civil Affairs and Military Government, which was part of the Army staff at the time, concurred with the design of a gold global background with gold torch, sword and scroll superimposed thereon, and, on 1 June 1956, the Department of the Army General Staff approved the design.

Civil Affairs Commands

The U. S. Army and Marine Corps currently have Civil Affairs units. Click on the links below for more information about the various commands and units.

Civil Affairs Maxims

1. Promise nothing and validate every word with deed
 

2. Influence is your greatest talent and weapon – failure to motivate the expenditure of others’ time and resources towards your objective is a burden of yours alone
 

3. Treat every verbal encounter like hand-to-hand combat, victory comes from mental, physical and moral preparation
 

4. Take no personal credit, but exploit all information systems to advertise progress in the legitimate government’s goals and objectives
 

5. Ensure every action positively and directly affects US national and foreign policy objectives
 

6. Plan and take command and responsibility of the plan on day one – be prepared to relinquish command and transition the plan on day two
 

7. Ours is a target-rich environment – exercise precision in your effects by attacking the part that leads to your objective, not the whole
 

8. Establish the moral high-ground and build an impenetrable fortress around it
 

9. Do no harm – build nothing that is not immediately absorbed and exploited by the indigenous government and its people to ensure political dominance and the preeminence of civil society
 

10. Leave nothing to memory – plan and use all devices necessary to document the environment and operations
 

11. Decide whom to trust by understanding what you have to lose​

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