Secrecy News

Army Views “Civil Affairs” Operations

The crucial interactions between military forces and the civilian environment in which they operate are the domain of “civil affairs,” a subject of urgent interest to the U.S. military in Iraq and elsewhere.

Civil affairs operations that promote cooperation between the military and the local population help to advance the military mission. Activities that generate friction or inspire opposition are not helpful.

“A supportive civilian population can provide resources and information that facilitate friendly operations. It can also provide a positive climate for the military and diplomatic activity a nation pursues to achieve foreign policy objectives,” according to U.S. military doctrine.

“A hostile civilian population threatens the immediate operations of deployed friendly forces and can often undermine public support at home for the policy objectives of the United States and its allies.”

“The problem of achieving maximum civilian support and minimum civilian interference with U.S. military operations will require the coordination of intelligence efforts, security measures, operational efficiency, and the intentional cultivation of goodwill.”

“Failure to use CA [civil affairs] assets in the analysis of political, economic, and social bases of instability may result in inadequate responses to the root causes of the instability and result in the initiation or continuation of conflict.”

Earlier this month, the U.S. Army issued a revised “how-to” manual on the conduct of civil affairs. That manual has not been approved for public release and is not readily available. But a copy of the prior edition from 2003 was obtained by Secrecy News.

See “Civil Affairs Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures,” U.S. Army Field Manual FM 3-05.401, September 2003 (535 pages, 16 MB PDF file).

A more concise treatment of the same subject was given in another recent manual. Though not approved for public release, a copy was obtained by Secrecy News. See “Civil Affairs Operations,” U.S. Army Field Manual 3-05.40, September 2006 (183 pages, 4 MB PDF file).