Army Civil Affairs

Army Civil Affairs

Army civil affairs is a vital branch that addresses critical strategic and operational needs. However, the branch struggles to demonstrate its value and thereby gain priority from higher echelons for training and resources. The reason is that its output is difficult to measure. This may contribute to the relegation of the regiment to supporting roles in operations.

Despite having many names—civil engagement, civil reconnaissance, and the like—civil affairs (CA) is defined by the internal requirements it delivers for supported Commanders. Civil Affairs is a unique economy-of-force capability that helps commanders preserve combat power, concentrate its lethality only when and where necessary, and make good on the blood and treasure they may have to expend on the nation’s behalf.

CA provides a dedicated planning, integration, and assessment capability for the Army at all levels of command from the brigade to theater special operation commands. The CA organization is structured, trained, and equipped specifically to plan and execute CAO across the military operations continuum—to understand and engage indigenous populations and institutions (IPI), conduct military government operations, enable civil-military operations, and support civil administration.

Civil Affairs is also uniquely capable of supporting military governance—establishing sovereign authority by force or agreement over occupied domestic, allied, neutral, or enemy territory and substituting it with rule of law and the capability to govern long after combat forces withdraw (JP 3-57). Civil affairs soldiers provide the critical foundation for this capacity through their understanding of the operational environment, their ability to conduct IPI, and their ability to synchronize the efforts of IPI, unified action partners, and interagency across the operational environment.

In the future, as DOD explores strategic competition with near-peer competitors, civil affairs forces will have opportunities to contribute across the entire competition continuum from cooperation to armed conflict. This requires a whole-branch concept that defines the role, core competencies and functions of the branch—an approach that is anchored in policy, directive, and joint doctrine.


The missions of army civil affairs focus on the impact of military operations upon the civilian populace. Civil affairs soldiers deploy with skills acquired in professions such as lawyers, city managers, veterinarians, teachers and policemen, allowing the Army to support local governance and restore vital services. Civil affairs personnel also possess a unique economy-of-force capability that allows commanders to preserve combat power and concentrate it only when necessary.

Civil information management (CIM) focuses on collecting, collating and analyzing critical civil data and turning it into actionable intelligence for the supported commander. The outcome of CIM flows into the commander’s planning process and the development of the common operational picture through the running estimate, and identifies civil considerations that the Army or joint force may not have considered.

The Civil-Military Operations (CMMO) focus on executing the military government functions during transitional military authority or civil government missions, which require expert knowledge of civilian-military operations and the ability to develop and maintain relationships with indigenous populations and institutions. CMMO is accomplished through the planning, integration and execution of civil-military operations to achieve or sustain stability. The Army’s CMMO capability includes civil-military engagements, conflict mediation, deconfliction operations, and information management activities. Field manual 6-0 describes the commander and staff’s roles in understanding, visualizing, and describing the operational environment; making and articulating decisions; directing, leading, and assessing military operations.

Army Civil Affairs' Qualifications

Army Civil Affairs’ Qualifications

Civil Affairs is a unique capability that supports commanders in the conduct of military operations. It provides them the means to understand, interact with and deliberatelly shape the civil environment in support of strategic end states and to enable interoperability with other organizations.

Civil affairs soldiers possess specialized knowledge of their designated regions and are primary advisors to other branches of the military on all aspects of international engagement activities, from operations planning to training. They have a vast understanding of the political, economic, social customs and history of their assigned region, which allows them to build effective relationships with government agencies and militaries.

The qualifications for an army civil affairs specialist begin with passing the ASVAB and attending basic training, or “AIT.” Upon completion of AIT, a soldier receives his military occupational specialty as a 38B10. Airborne-qualified active duty enlisted soldiers also attend airborne school and language school.

In order to be a civil affairs officer, you must have a valid passport or visa and meet the physical requirements for the armed forces. You’ll then go through Civil Affairs Assessment and Selection, where you undergo a rigorous assessment process. After completing your selection, you’ll be sent to Fort Bragg for AIT and then to your unit. Depending on your unit’s assignment, you may attend language and negotiation courses as well as regional studies.


Those who work in army civil affairs often find themselves gaining skills that translate well to civilian jobs after military service is over. These include learning to write clearly and concisely, working with foreign governments and militaries and learning new languages and cultures. These skills, combined with the ability to travel and a willingness to learn how other countries function, can make working in this field an appealing option for some.

Active component civil affairs soldiers undergo a rigorous assessment and selection process and extensive training to enable them to operate as small teams in hostile or austere environments in order to achieve strategic end states. They receive advanced language training, survival training, higher-level planning courses and non-standard weapons and off-road mobility and evasive driving courses. Upon completion of their training, they are assigned to one of the five Civil Affairs battalions that are regionally aligned to the Department of Defense’s geographic combatant commands: SOUTHCOM, CENTCOM, EUCOM, and AFRICOM.

In addition to training within their unit, civil affairs reservists are trained at the Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations School (Airborne), a subordinate of USASOC. This facility is responsible for training Civil Affairs Soldiers and identifies and integrates civil considerations into tactical planning processes and tactical execution. In October 2019, the Smithsonian Institution signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command (Airborne), or USACAPOC(A), to begin providing training in protecting and preserving cultural property to Army Reserve civil affairs personnel.