The Future of U.S. Civil Affairs Forces
February 20, 2009
Within the United States, there is an emergent political consensus on the need to improve civilian capacity for diplomacy and development missions, including stabilization and reconstruction. In addition to such needed civilian capacity, the nation will require military civil affairs capabilities to meet defense security cooperation goals, combat requirements under international law, and a U.S. capability for reconstruction and stabilization in contested environments or sectors. Civil affairs forces are designed to provide expertise to military commanders in their interface with civil societies, including in the fields of rule of law, economic stability, governance, public health and welfare, infrastructure, and public education and information.
The recommendations in this report seek to marry the Defense Department’s rhetorical commitment to excellence in civil-military operations—including stability operations, counterinsurgency, and aspects of irregular warfare—with concrete improvements in military capability. Absent such progress, the military may find itself, as it has so many times in the past, ill-equipped for missions outside its conception of “traditional warfare.”