By Robert Feidler, Director, Defense Education
The Defense Education Forum, together with George Mason University and the Civil Affairs Association, held a two day conference on Civil Affairs in Irregular Warfare: One Profession, One Victory. The event was held on the campus of George Mason University on Oct 30 and 31 and marked the thirteenth event in this series of programs that began three years ago.
This topic could not have been more relevant as our country and our allies review the demands of peacetime cooperation and civil-military considerations of our complex national security environment. Recent changes in U.S. military doctrine have only heightened the importance of civil affairs in all operations, but especially in irregular warfare (IW) operations.
Irregular warfare has been defined as: A violent struggle among state and non-state actors for legitimacy and influence over the relevant population(s). DoD Directive 3000.07, 2008
Most recently, in response to a Congressional inquiry about the DoD’s perception of critical issues facing Civil Affairs, DoD reported to Congress in April, 2009 that:
“DoD force development guidance for civil affairs will account for global, long-duration irregular warfare operations, including counter-terrorism, counterinsurgency, unconventional warfare, foreign internal defense, and stability operations within countries vital to U.S. security interests.”
It was with this as background that the two day conference, that was attended by over two hundred people, and which had a faculty of 29 speakers, both heard from distinguished civilian and military leaders, and also conducted five breakout sessions to delve into key issues in more detail. Powerpoint presentations from the event are available at the DEF programs page of ROA's website. Further information and visual presentations will be made available by the middle of November.
The event began with introductory remarks from Professor Dave Davis of GMU, Bob Feidler from ROA (the Director of the DEF programs), and COL Alan King, President of the CA Association. They were followed by keynote addresses from Dr. James Schear, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Partnership Strategy and Stability Operations, an office with the Assistant Secretary for Special Operations/Low-Intensity Conflict and Interdependent Capabilities (SOLIC), and Major General David Blackledge, USAR, the Commanding General of the Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command (USACAPOC). They reviewed broadly the recent report sent by DoD to Congress on Civil Affairs and future plans regarding force structure, training and education.
Although most CA assets reside in the Army Reserves (about 90% at present), because the Navy and Marine Corps also have CA assets, the Secretary of Defense recently designated the Special Operations Command to by the Joint Proponent for Civil Affairs. This becomes very important since CA is expanding rapidly both in the AC (where an new Battalion is being added to the 95th CA Brigade and an entire new Brigade may come on line in the next four years as well) and in the RC where twenty additional CA companies will come on line in the next few years. Ultimately, the AC will represent 26% of the CA capacity in the Army.
Major themes discussed at the conference included the necessity for a “whole of government approach to foreign development and stabilization”; the need – or lack of need – for functional specialists; unique operational and tactical aspects of irregular warfare; the role of the Navy in maritime civil affairs operations; force development issues; and what a vision for civil affairs in 2015 might be.
The conference was highlighted by a dinner attended by the Chief of the Army Reserve, LTG Jack Stultz, at which he was presented a signed copy of the World War II classic A Bell for Adano signed by the author John Hersey, and the real life protagonist of the book, a civil affairs hero who addressed the needs of the people of Adano, Italy. LTG Stultz was asked to find a proper “home” for the book and he indicated that it may well be the future headquarters of the USARC at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina.
The Conference pointed out the major – seismic – changes that are occurring in the CA community ranging from force structure increases to proponency issues. It is clear that DoD is taking significant strides to address both the short and long-term capabilities and gaps in CA. Both the AC and RC will see significant increases in personnel dedicated to the CA mission. It is clear that as DoD continues its transformation efforts related to irregular warfare and a whole of government approach to stability and reconstruction operations, that Civil Affairs is high on their agenda and that the contribution of RC units of the Army, Navy and Marine Corps are recognized and deeply appreciated.