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Civil Affairs

The work of civil affairs personnel plays a critical role in promoting regional stability, preventing or reducing conflicts and threats, and deterring aggression and coercion worldwide. And in turn, civil affairs capabilities provide a wide range of options for regional CinCs [commanders in chief], ambassadors and policymakers. Civil Affairs has 20 different subspecialties that are mostly related to putting together shattered infrastructure. They have public administration people, public works people, they have waterworks people. The Reserve has 97 percent of the Army's civil affairs assets.

Civil Affairs is a non-accession branch. This means that officers from every branch can become qualified for the slot once they complete a correspondence course and a 2 week resident course at Fort Bragg, NC.

In 1955, The Civil Affairs and Military Government Branch, USAR, was established. For many years prior to the establishment of the Civil Affairs/Military Government Branch as an Army Reserve branch on 17 August 1955, dedicated civil affairs professionals had contributed significantly to the accomplishment of the Army mission. Subsequently redesignated the Civil Affairs Branch on 2 October 1959, it has continued to enhance the traditions of expertise and thoroughness. It has been tasked to provide guidance to commanders in a broad spectrum of activities ranging from host-guest relationships to the assumption of executive, legislative and judicial processes in occupied or liberated areas.

On 30 April 1956, the Office of Civil Affairs and Military Government gave concurrence in the design (gold global background with gold torch, sword and scroll superimposed thereon). The Department of the Army General Staff approved the design on 1 June 1956. The branch was redesignated to Civil Affairs USAR on 2 October 1959. 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 organization's mission. The insignia was authorized for wear by all personnel assigned to Regular Army Civil Affairs TOE units on 13 October 1961.

In 1993, six years after the enactment of the Cohen-Nunn legislation, the Army civil affairs forces were incorporated into the special operations community. This evolution greatly enhanced the breadth of capabilities of our special operations forces. The work of civil affairs units in the gulf, Haiti and Bosnia-Herzegovina demonstrates how well civil affairs units shape the international strategic environment after our traditional forces respond to a crisis.

Equally important is the day-to-day work of civil affairs units before a crisis ripens. Civil affairs soldiers are beginning to play a key role in our humanitarian demining program. Civil affairs personnel serve as liaisons among demining teams, the host government, the Civilian Mine Action Center and the US Embassy. Moreover, the civil affairs forces provide the necessary skills to train host nation personnel to develop indigenous demining entities and maintain self-sustaining, long-term programs, which is the ultimate goal of this critical program.

Civil affairs personnel create immediate, direct, tangible benefits in host countries around the world: Roads and schoolhouses are built, wells are dug, mined fields are made safe, governments are stabilized, chaos and confusion are diffused, and order is re-established. By making a difference in the lives of the local populace, civil affairs personnel are also helping to strengthen the good will of the United States in the eyes of the world -- clearly, civil affairs forces are invaluable diplomacy multipliers.

During the 1990s civil affairs personnel were serving in Rwanda and Namibia as part of humanitarian demining teams, acting as intermediaries with the host country of Mali in a MEDCAP [Medical Civic Action Project] operation, working on small engineering projects such as well-digging and road improvement in Belize, continuing to help plan for elections in Bosnia, coordinating the allocation of humanitarian assistance flowing into Cambodia and assisting the government of Cambodia to establish an infrastructure capable of providing necessary governmental services to its people, and working with nongovernmental agencies and private entities on civic action projects in Laos, where up until a year earlier, no US military personnel had been permitted.

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Page last modified: 05-07-2011 01:35:04 ZULU