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Chapter 1

Introduction to Civil Affairs

Military commanders must consider not only the military forces but also the environment in which those forces operate. One factor of the environment that commanders must consider is the civilian populace and its impact--whether it is supportive, neutral, or hostile to the presence of military forces. A supportive populace can provide material resources that facilitate friendly operations. It can also provide a positive climate for military and diplomatic activities a nation pursues to achieve foreign policy objectives. A hostile populace threatens the immediate operations of deployed friendly forces and can often undermine public support at home for the nation's policy objectives. Operations that involve the interaction of military forces with the civilian populace to facilitate military operations and consolidate operational objectives are CMO.
Civil-military operations are the activities of a commander that establish, maintain, influence, or exploit relations between military forces, government and nongovernment civilian organizations and authorities, and the civilian populace in a friendly, neutral, or hostile area of operations in order to facilitate military operations and consolidate and achieve U.S. objectives. Civil-military operations may include performance by military forces of activities and functions normally the responsibility of local, regional, or national government. These activities may occur before, during, or after other military actions. They may also occur, if directed, in the absence of other military operations. Civil-military operations may be performed by designated Civil Affairs forces, by other military forces, or by a combination of Civil Affairs forces and other forces.


1-1. The U.S. military can expect challenges from ever-increasing missions in a civil-military environment. As such, CA forces offer unique capabilities that not only enhance the mission but also ultimately advance the U.S. political and economic interests. Helping a country in crisis requires skills that promote the U.S. military relationship with government organizations, nongovernment organizations (NGOs), and international organizations (IOs). (See Appendix A for a list of typical NGOs and IOs.) Regionally oriented, language-qualified, and culturally attuned forces support this relationship. CA forces are particularly adept at these tasks and, if employed properly, can be a significant force multiplier.

Civil Affairs are the designated Active and Reserve Component forces and units organized, trained, and equipped specifically to conduct Civil Affairs activities and to support civil-military operations.

1-2. CA forces support missions across the range of military operations. Although the Joint Strategic Capabilities Plan (JSCP) dictates the requirements for CA force structure in support of major theater war (MTW) plans, support to peacetime engagement and emerging operations can only be reached by the proper planning and forecasting of CA force requirements. Early determination of requirements, coupled with properly routed support requests, ensures timely access to CA forces.

Civil Affairs activities are activities performed or supported by Civil Affairs forces that (1) embrace the relationship between military forces and civil authorities in areas where military forces are present; and (2) involve the application of Civil Affairs functional specialty skills, in areas normally the responsibility of civil government, to enhance the conduct of civil-military operations.

1-3. CA units were intimately involved in the planning of the transition phase of Operation DESERT STORM to ensure a smooth transition to authority by the legitimate government of Kuwait. Following hostilities, CA units supported and assisted in humanitarian assistance (HA) operations for the Kurdish refugees in Northern Iraq. Operation PROVIDE COMFORT eventually involved more than 20,000 troops from 6 nations. CA support to theater-level operations during Operations DESERT SHIELD and DESERT STORM included--

  • Coordinating foreign nation support (FNS).
  • Managing dislocated civilians (DCs).
  • Conducting HA and military civic action (MCA) in support of military operations and U.S. national objectives.

1-4. CA units deployed to Somalia in support of Operation RESTORE HOPE. Their mission was to coordinate HA, FNS, and MCA. Specifically, CA teams resolved local labor issues and assisted in identifying local sources of supply. These operations helped to promote goodwill and to reduce tension in the capital of Mogadishu.

1-5. Operation SUPPORT HOPE is an excellent example of a joint task force (JTF) established with a CMO mission. Active Component (AC) and Reserve Component (RC) CA units, working from numerous civil-military operations centers (CMOCs) established throughout the joint operations area (JOA), coordinated humanitarian relief operations for hundreds of thousands of refugees in Rwanda.

1-6. Operation UPHOLD AND MAINTAIN DEMOCRACY in Haiti included humanitarian relief, public safety, and election assistance. When the legally elected government was reestablished, Ministerial Advisory Teams (MATs) deployed to Haiti to advise and assist various ministries (Health, Justice, and Public Works) in establishing functional programs. CA planners also assisted in coordinating more than $1 billion in funding for public works projects from private sources. Democratic elections were successfully held for the first time following years of military rule.

1-7. Figure 1-1 displays CA mission activities that occur across the full range of military operations. Clear requirements for CA forces exist during each phase of an operation. The complexity and scope of specific activities vary with the type of operation.

Figure 1-1. CA Mission Activities Across the Range of Military Operations


1-8. When diplomatic means fail to achieve national objectives or to protect national interests, the U.S. national leadership may decide to conduct large-scale, sustained combat operations. In such cases, the goal is to win as quickly and with as few casualties as possible. Achieving national objectives and concluding hostilities on terms favorable to the United States and its multinational partners are implied tasks. Close coordination between the commander in chief's (CINC's) staff and the U.S. Embassy country team ensures a smooth transition to war should such an event occur.

1-9. The CMO staff, augmented by CA planning teams, develops a plan that uses CA resources to optimize CMO capabilities. Although each combatant command is apportioned CA forces, only United States Pacific Command (USPACOM) has an assigned CA unit. For missions exceeding the capability of this unit, as well as all other operations, the geographic CINCs must request CA resources through the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS). Once CA forces are allocated, the CINC incorporates them into his campaign plan and executes the plan to a successful conclusion.


1-10. Stability and support operations focus on deterring war, resolving conflict, supporting civil authorities, and promoting peace. Stability operations enable and enhance world peace and prevent the need to wage a full-scale war. Army involvement in stability operations often results from U.S. support of international mandates, particularly within frameworks established in the United Nations (UN) Charter, Chapter VI (Settlement of Disputes, Articles 33-38) and Chapter VII (Action With Respect to Threats to the Peace, Articles 39-51). Examples of Army involvement in stability operations include Operations RESTORE HOPE, PROVIDE COMFORT, and UPHOLD AND MAINTAIN DEMOCRACY. After-action reviews (AARs) of these operations illustrate CA-specific involvement.

Working from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in downtown Port au Prince, Haiti, a CA team established a Humanitarian Assistance Coordination Center (HACC) to process requests for support from numerous civilian relief agencies whose operations had been disrupted by the U.S. military intervention. The HACC provided a single source of information and coordination for relief agencies and ensured the smooth flow of relief supplies to areas of greatest need.


1-11. Support operations assist civil authorities. When support operations occur in the United States, they generally fall under Title 32 and Title 10 of the U.S. Code (USC). Army operations during the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew and support to the nation's counterdrug efforts are examples of support operations.

In the aftermath of the disaster leveled on southern Florida by Hurricane Andrew, civil affairs teams were deployed to begin assessing the damage. Working in close coordination with local, state, and federal emergency management agencies, the teams established a CMOC. The CMOC provided the critical interface between the Joint Task Force and the numerous government agencies, civilian organizations, and local volunteers.

AAR, Hurricane Andrew


1-12. Stability and support operations are more sensitive to political considerations, and the military is often not the primary player. The CINCs plan and conduct their political and military missions within the limits defined by U.S. and international law, U.S. national policy, and applicable treaties and agreements. Stability and support operations inevitably require RC unit and individual skill sets not found in the AC.

1-13. The geographic CINC provides guidance to make sure CA activities are consistent and continuous. Although the CINC can delegate the authority to conduct CA activities to any commander, he normally retains authority for such activities as national-level liaison and negotiation of international agreements. The joint CMO staff may assist the CINC in--

  • Conducting national-level liaison.
  • Negotiating international agreements.
  • Formulating CMO policy and guidance.
  • Determining CA force requirements and objectives.
  • Performing CMO analyses.
  • Providing technical supervision and staff management over subordinate CA elements.


1-14. All CA units are oriented toward a specific region of the world. The Unified Command Plan assigns areas of responsibility (AORs) to geographic and regional CINCs: USPACOM, United States Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM), United States Joint Forces Command (USJFCOM), United States European Command (USEUCOM), United States Central Command (USCENTCOM), and Korea. Orientation helps commanders focus their personnel and training. Examples include language, cultural norms, and operational requirements unique to each theater. Regional orientation begins with formal qualification in a language of the AOR and in regional studies. It is constantly enhanced by repeated deployments to the region.


1-15. Army special operations forces (ARSOF) doctrine holds four basic truths as the foundation of the force. CA forces embrace these truths as timeless values that have not changed since World War II (WWII). These truths capture the essence of the CA soldier recruited, trained, and retained to support commanders and ambassadors around the globe. These truths, as seen from the CA perspective, are as follows:

  • Humans are more important than hardware. People, not equipment, make the critical difference. The right people, highly trained and working as a team, accomplish the mission with the equipment available. The best equipment in the world cannot compensate for the lack of the right people.
  • Quality is better than quantity. A small number of people well led, carefully selected, and possessing requisite skills--oftentimes, civilian-acquired--are preferable to a large number of troops, some of whom may not be fully capable.
  • CA cannot be mass-produced. Developing operational units to the level of proficiency necessary to accomplish difficult, specialized CA missions requires years of training and experience. Integration of mature, competent individuals into fully mission-capable units requires intense training in CA schools and CA units. Hastening this process only degrades the ultimate capability.
  • Competent CA cannot be created after emergencies arise. Creation of competent, fully mission-capable units takes time. Employment of fully capable CA elements on short notice requires highly trained and constantly available CA units in peacetime.


1-16. The principles of war are the basis of warfighting doctrine. Although war calls for the direct application of military force, CA commanders must consider all facets of the operational environment. They provide input to the supported unit operation plans (OPLANs) and operation plans in concept format (CONPLANs), focusing primarily on the impact of the military operations on the land and the populace. The following paragraphs describe how these basic military principles relate to CA activities.


1-17. Direct every operation toward a clearly defined, decisive, and attainable goal. A strategic military objective is subordinate to, and must fulfill, a political objective. Likewise, operational and tactical objectives must fulfill strategic military objectives and thus realize political objectives. Once strategic, operational, and tactical military objectives are specified, CA assets support commanders by--

  • Providing information on the political, cultural, and economic situation in the AOR.
  • Coordinating FNS.
  • Performing government functions when local agencies are unwilling or unable to provide for the needs of their own people.
  • Planning for and training foreign nation (FN) personnel who subsequently assume or expand ongoing initiatives.


1-18. Seize, retain, and exploit the initiative. CA forces are combat multipliers. They support offensive operations by--

  • Augmenting the intelligence cycle through direct involvement with the civilian populace. NOTE: Take care to disassociate CA forces with active intelligence-gathering activities and personnel.
  • Minimizing local populace interference with U.S. military operations.
  • Coordinating for logistics support to military units using local resources.


1-19. Place the enemy in a position of disadvantage through the flexible application of combat power. Related to mass, maneuver incorporates flexibility, mobility, and maneuverability. The local populace can either help or hinder maneuver operations. CA personnel plan and coordinate with local authorities to increase maneuver flexibility. CA units assess the availability and operability of airport and seaport facilities. CA units also coordinate for the use of indigenous ground transport. They support maneuverability by--

  • Reducing civilian interference with military operations.
  • Recommending routes that avoid densely populated areas.
  • Identifying nonmilitary transportation assets to support military operations.
  • Assisting in the development of the Protected Target List, including such items as cultural landmarks, hospitals, and museums.


1-20. Mass the effects of combat power in a decisive manner in time and space. The principle of mass requires the quick assembly of forces and resources at a particular place and time. Surprise is the key to the success of operations depending on massing forces and resources. Concealing concentrations of forces from the local populace can be difficult. CA units can recommend secure areas where population density, local support, logistical support, and transportation routes support the massing forces.


1-21. Employ all combat power available in the most effective way possible; allocate minimum essential combat power to secondary efforts. CA units lessen the need to divert combat-ready troops from essential duties by planning for and using local resources to maintain order and provide logistical services.


1-22. Achieve effects disproportionate to the effort by taking unexpected action. The element of surprise is difficult to achieve in highly populated areas. CA personnel can enhance the effectiveness of sensitive operations by coordinating with local authorities. Feedback from the populace indicates the effectiveness of deception measures. CA activities supported by Psychological Operations (PSYOP) can enhance the element of surprise.


1-23. Never allow the enemy to acquire an unexpected advantage. Security includes measures taken by a military unit, an activity, or an installation to protect itself against acts that may impair its effectiveness. CA operations support security by--

  • Providing a conduit for information of intelligence value from the local populace and government human intelligence (HUMINT).
  • Screening local populace groups, separating potential terrorists or enemy special operations forces (SOF) from the civilian populace and larger groups, such as DCs (Appendix B).
  • Identifying potential cultural, religious, ethnic, racial, political, or economic attitudes that could jeopardize the military mission.


1-24. Achieve common purpose and direction through unity of command, coordination, and cooperation. To achieve unity of effort, CA units must have a clear, concise chain of command that maximizes the effectiveness of their mission. During combined operations with indigenous military forces, CA soldiers must stress the requirement for cooperation between indigenous military and civilian organizations.


1-25. Prepare uncomplicated concepts and plans and direct concise orders to ensure thorough understanding. CA relationships are simplified using a single staff focal point. The G5, S5, or joint CMO staff officer can relieve the unit staff of many related functions. CA plans and annexes must be simple and direct. They must also be supportable by the available resources. Early coordination and negotiations with civil authorities can ensure effective, successful operations.


1-26. Analyzing traditional military fundamentals in terms of political, information, and economic factors blends the basic principles of war into military imperatives for special operations (SO). They also prescribe key operational requirements for SO in all operational environments. CA activities planned and conducted in compliance with the SO imperatives support the intent of the principles of operations.


1-27. The operating environment for CA activities goes beyond the military environment and includes civil, political, and informational aspects. Simply knowing facts and figures gathered from an area study is not sufficient. CA personnel must strive to achieve a full-dimensional picture of their operating environment. With this full-dimensional picture, CA personnel can begin to identify and understand the relationships and interaction between variables in the civil environment. From this understanding comes the ability to anticipate not only the impact of specific military actions upon the civil environment, but also the subsequent reactions and potential opportunities to assist the military mission. This imperative also means that CA augmentation teams must understand military doctrine and the standing operating procedures (SOP) of the supported unit. If CA personnel are to facilitate unity of effort, they must understand the unique cultures and procedures of all civilian and military agencies and organizations with whom they may interface.


1-28. Current military operations run the gamut from peacetime engagement activities to combat and posthostility operations. In many of these operations, military acts may have consequences that are other than military. A multitude of interrelated issues, positions, and interests associated with the agendas of various groups or individuals often exist within the civilian environment. Military involvement or coexistence with the civil environment can purposely or inadvertently affect these agendas. All military personnel, particularly CA personnel, must be aware of these agendas and be cautious in word, deed, and actions to avoid communicating activities to the civilian community that are not within the parameters of the military mission or U.S. national objectives. Clearly, personnel cannot know all aspects or agendas, but being alert to the political implications of military acts helps in managing the consequences in a timely way.


1-29. Most CA activities involve the participation of government agencies, as well as policy guidance from those agencies. Interagency involvement is common at the strategic level of conventional combat operations and occurs occasionally at the operational level. During peacetime engagement, peace operations, and humanitarian operations, this involvement can, however, extend to the tactical level. CA personnel can assist units to integrate the military and interagency efforts to achieve a cooperative unity of effort. CA personnel also work with political advisors and military Foreign Area Officers at the strategic and operational levels to translate interagency guidance into unambiguous military tasks.


1-30. The U.S. military can bring overwhelming force upon its choice of objectives. To do so without consideration of the political, economic, and social consequences creates the possibility of needless social instability subsequent to the military operation. Such resultant instability may not be supportive of the long-term objectives following the military mission. CA personnel assist units to assess the consequences of too much force and offer nonlethal alternatives to the use of force.


1-31. Regardless of the type or length of a military mission, some consequences will occur to the surrounding civilian environment. These consequences may have an impact on the political, economic, or social aspects of the surrounding environment and infrastructure. Not all consequences are significant. Some are, however, and CA personnel must consider the long-term effects and advise unit commanders and staffs of these consequences. This aspect of advising and assisting becomes most important when considering how military objectives transition to nonmilitary objectives and, more important, how the military effort lays the foundation for those subsequent objectives. In so doing, military operations at all levels and their related CA plans, policies, and program guidance remain consistent with the national and theater priorities and the objectives they support.


1-32. In modern conflict, legitimacy is a crucial factor in developing and maintaining internal and international support. The concept of legitimacy is broader than the strict legal definition in international law. The concept also includes the moral and political legitimacy of a government and its forces. The people of a nation and the international community determine legitimacy based on their collective perception of the credibility of the cause and the methods used to achieve results. Because CA personnel focus on the relationship between the civil and military environments, legitimacy and credibility are key issues. Within an AO, respect for the dignity, pride, and culture of the populace are fundamental to maintaining legitimacy and credibility. CA personnel must, therefore, consider the perceptions of the local populace to military events. Neutral or unfriendly civilian populations cannot be physically subdued by the military of a democratic government without risking international and home-country outcries of disdain or, worse, by fomenting an insurgency. Ensuring the legitimacy and credibility of the military operation is key to soliciting and maintaining the support of the population.


1-33. Military operations can have a positive or negative effect on individuals and the collective behavior of the civilian populace. Much of the effect may be linked to the perceptions of the civilian populace. Perception often overshadows reality in determining the success or failure of a CA effort. CA personnel must be knowledgeable of PSYOP and public affairs efforts to mitigate negative perceptions. CA personnel must understand these perceptions, as well as the actual realities, and the potential impact of either upon the military operation. They must be aware of the possibility of hostile propaganda and disinformation programs, as well as the misunderstandings and false expectations from poor interpersonal communication, cultural differences, and misinterpreted actions.


1-34. Commanders must avoid the attitude that U.S. military forces can and will do all when supporting a foreign government or dealing with nonmilitary groups. Credit for achievements must be shared with, or given to, the supported government to reinforce and enhance the legitimacy and credibility of that government. Properly planned and executed U.S.-FN military projects--such as school construction, road building, and well drilling--can have a positive influence on the perception of the local populace toward its government.


1-35. Anticipating how various aspects of the civilian environment will interact is a difficult task. Because variables of the environment change, what might have worked one day may not work the next day. Consequently, a CA plan must always have multiple options that can be applied proactively in support of the military mission.


1-36. The U.S. response to conflict varies with the mission. The resourcing of any particular U.S. support effort may also vary. CA personnel should not recommend or begin programs that are beyond the economic, technological, or cultural capacity of the country to maintain without additional U.S. assistance. Such programs can become counterproductive if the population becomes dependent on them and funding is lost. Learning which programs are sustainable by the country begins with a timely, accurate assessment of the environment in which the project is to be conducted. CA personnel must also assist units to understand other efforts being taken by IOs and NGOs. These organizations remain involved long after redeployment of the U.S. military. Any cooperative civil-military effort with these organizations, therefore, has a higher probability of long-term sustainment, even if the country itself does not have the capacity to maintain the programs.


1-37. The traditional, conventional, intelligence preparation of the battlespace often omits economic, political, and social factors pertinent to the CA effort at division level and below. Because of the potential political implications of CA efforts, a need for information on national and theater objectives also exist at the tactical level. CA personnel must, therefore, be specific with their information requirements and identify their requirements in priority. They must identify missions as essential or just "nice to have." Without realistic priorities, the intelligence community can quickly become overwhelmed and disregard CA information requirements.


1-38. Increasing U.S. involvement in stability and support operations confronts the military with operational problems that may have their origins in civil issues. If the military hopes to accomplish its mission, solutions may need to be found within the civilian environment. Some synchronization of civil-military efforts must occur, in turn requiring the sharing of information. To attain consensus and cooperation with civilian organizations existing within or supporting the operational area, CA personnel must balance security and synchronization. Insufficient security may compromise a mission, but excessive security may, likewise, cause the mission to fail.


1-39. SO mission criteria were developed during Operation DESERT STORM to make sure SOF assets were committed only to missions that supported the theater campaign, that were appropriate and feasible, and that had an expected outcome that justified the risk. The following criteria, as they relate to CA employment, are used to assess proposed CA missions:

  • Is the mission appropriate for CA? The best use of CA is against key strategic or operational targets that require CA's unique skills and capabilities. Commanders should not assign CA if targets are not of strategic or operational importance. Commanders should not use CA as a substitute for other forces.
  • Does the mission support the theater geographic combatant commander's campaign plan? If the mission does not support the joint force commander's (JFC's) campaign plan, more appropriate missions are probably available for CA.
  • Is the mission operationally feasible? During the course of action (COA) analysis, the CA commander must realistically evaluate his force. Planners must understand that CA is not structured for unilateral operations. They should not assign missions that are beyond the scope of CA capabilities, limitations, and vulnerabilities.
  • Are the required resources available to conduct the mission? Almost all CA missions require support from conventional forces. Support involves protecting, integrating, and sustaining employed CA. Support may include airlift, intelligence, communications, and logistics.
  • Does the expected outcome justify the risk? Some operations that CA can execute make a marginal contribution to the JFC campaign plan and present great risk to personnel and material. Commanders should recognize the high value and limited resources of CA. They must make sure the benefits of successful mission execution are measurable and balanced with the risks inherent with the mission. Risk management considers not only the potential loss of CA units and equipment but also the risk of adverse effects on U.S. diplomatic and political interests in a failed mission.

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