View Full Version : Civil Affairs

George L. Singleton
03-24-2009, 01:14 AM
Amen to today's SWJ non-reply to Blog comment by the Colonel on the topic of the need for more and better Civil Affairs.

See my remarks on same in talking about early USSOCOM computerized wargamming and the important role, back then, we gave to Civil Affairs.

You guys are on the ball!

03-24-2009, 02:33 AM

During the work-week my mind is usually places other than SWJ...however...I caught your post tonight and being a CA-Bubba who has both thought about this subject once or twice as well as spent some time doing the work, I will suggest that a comparison of pre and post-WWII history is in order. In my opinion at least, we have concrete evidence of what funded/resourced/enabled Military Government/Civil Affairs Forces can do: Germany and Japan post 1945.

The US Army provides a helpful link (http://www.history.army.mil/books/wwii/civaff/index.htm) to get us started on this journey.

The title of this volume may not convey the precise scope of its contents but the authors could think of no other that would be more suggestive without being overponderous. Broadly speaking the volume deals with U.S. Army and Anglo-American planning and operations in the sphere of relations with civilians in certain liberated and conquered countries in World War II. Although far more than mere difference in nomenclature was involved, the Army manuals generally referred to occupational operations in liberated countries as civil affairs and to those in conquered countries as military government.1 In both types of occupation the range and complexity of the problems to be dealt with were as great as in the whole scope of modern government. In liberated countries the Army needs and Allied aims could be satisfied largely through existing governmental regulations and personnel, but in enemy countries drastic changes in laws, institutions, and administrators were necessary. Whether old or new governmental machinery was used, civil affairs doctrine emphasized the desirability of indirect control. In spite of this emphasis, in areas of military government Allied officers, whether from necessity or impatience, sometimes performed various governmental functions and in any case closely supervised them. In the liberated areas their intervention was far less direct, but, under the paramount authority residing in the theater commander by either the laws of warfare or by international agreement, they advised or assisted the indigenous authorities. Thus, in various senses and degrees, soldiers became governors.

The long and crowded history of Allied civil affairs activities, like the history of tactical activities, may be divided into the operations that took place before and those that took place after the military drive into the main enemy areas-Germany and Japan. The scope of this volume encompasses only the pre-Germany-Japan phase of the war, in which the Army prepared and organized for its tasks, conducted its first belligerent occupation (in Italy), and carried on the liberating occupations in France and northwest Europe preliminary to invasion of Germany. It was in this phase, in short, that the Army initiated and gained maturity in its civil affairs responsibilities. The omission of Germany and Japan may well disappoint some readers insofar as the operations in those countries were the largest and most consequential of the war. But the basic aims and methods took form in the earlier operations, and the occupation of Germany and Japan, however distinctive in some respects, cannot be adequately understood except in the light of what went on before.

This weekend I will further consider COL Grimes' well written piece to see if there is anything that I can add that might be of value and will be glad to discuss/debate it further with you if you so wish.



03-24-2009, 09:33 AM
COL Grimes article is an excellent contribution to the debate. What I do not see in this article or the recent CSIS study is a critique on the application of CA doctrine. Why is it that we do not have a Joint Civil Military Operations Task Force (JCMOTF) in theater (or better one in Iraq and one in Afghanistan) that would orchestrate all CA operations (CAO) from theater to tactical, ensure the right mix of CA capabilities and application of all the CA functions.

Perhaps a doctrinally correct command and control structure would be able to synchronize CAO and ensure the components of the Joint Task Force are properly resourced (or decisions are made based on the JTF commander's priorities to allocate the scare CA resources). We should study why we have the provincial reconstruction teams (PRT) (which were developed by a reserve Special Forces/Civil Affairs Officer in Afghanistan in 2002). The reason they were developed was out of necessity because there was no Civil Affairs structure that should have brought together the military and civilian assets to conduct the PRT mission.

It is a good thing that we all recognize the importance of Civil Affairs. It is a bad thing not to correctly employ this critical but still scarce resource. Until we actually execute the doctrine we should not be trying to reinvent the wheel. Of course if we do execute doctrinally correct operations and they do not meet our needs then we will need to get to work on the wheel.

George L. Singleton
03-24-2009, 09:46 AM
As a retired reserve officer (6 active and 25 in the reserve, last 8 with USSOCOM/formerly USREDCOM) I am glad to read of your several interests and experiences with CA and hope more will join in.

To me, perjudiced view of course, I am also interested to read that the CA program in Afghanistan was ginned up by a reservist.

Major General Burford, a reserve Army type, now on active duty with HQUSSOCOM is from this area and while I don't personally know him several of my retired regular Army friends here locally know him well and say he is doing a good job. He is of course reserve special forces background.

Today's military does not exist without the mix of regular, reserve, and Guard folks, which is why we have all three components.

To jump start hoped for more discussion here on SWJ the CA programs separately in both Afghaninstan and Iraq had to be unique to each separate country as each is a different field of action...I as now only a mere observer find Afghanistan very unique and it's CA needs are very tough, indeed, due to the religion/cultural differences within and among the Pukhtun majority and the several minority tribes which are not Pukhtuns.

To repeat myself on one point from this past weekend here on SWJ, our basic alliance began and still depends in large part on the so-called Northern Alliance in Afghanistan who are essentially non-Pukhtuns, whereas the majority of the Afghan population are Pukhtuns.

We also have the issue of many of the Colonels and Geneals (older in age, literally) were trained up under/during the USSR occupation of Afghanistan. Direct feedback I get from friends (all younger than me of course, but still personal and family friends) in theater in Afghanistan is that the older senior Afghan officers are an "issue" unto themselves and not in their private view much of a helpful part of the CA solution. This is a tough subject and perhaps bears light handed commenary on SWJ in the open.

The cost of a Japan/German style of CA as involves Afghanistan, which has no meaningful natural resources, which Iraq does have, oil, is a huge factor...and in these economic hard times and pressing insurgency times is quite different, my view, than an aceeded and flatly defeated Germany and Japan style of CA. Our CA in Afghanistan is literally still under hostile fire, and as is and has been the case in Northern Pakistan, it is hard, sometimes physically impossible, to building roads, bridges, schools, etc. while under fire or when after you build same, the terrorists come along and blow same up all over again. This is a tough nut to crack.