2020 Civil Affairs Symposium Report

2020 Civil Affairs Symposium Report

March 30, 2021


On the heels of a highly successful Roundtable, the Civil Affairs Association’s1 annual fall Symposium on Monday–Wednesday, 5–7 October 2020, introduced an expanded, multi-component, interservice and interorganizational platform for rich intellectual capitalization of civil affairs (CA) professional and force development. The theme for the 2020–21 Civil Affairs Issue Papers is: “Civil Affairs: A Force for Influence in Competition.” 

From its experience at the 2020 Roundtable, the Association decided to make the Symposium a web-based event. (Given the continuing pandemic, the next Roundtable will also take place online, on 14 April.) This format, the Association has learned, casts the net out to an expanding community to have input in an iterative force development process. This has also served to improve intellectual readiness. Being no- or low-cost, it has enabled greater participation, especially from reserve and younger CA leaders. The results have been dramatic. The record 700 registrants shows that attendance was not hampered by the change of format.

At the same time, the Association has now institutionalized four workshops that are representative of the critical constituencies of the CA Corps: the CA proponent; the major CA command; noncommissioned officers (NCOs); and junior leaders. By always having a place at the discussion table, they can provide more anticipatory and deliberate input. In addition to the Civil Affairs Issue Papers,2 OneCA Podcast3 and Eunomia Journal,4 the fourth workshop especially gives greater voice to younger CA professionals in current and recent operations on the future of the enterprise in which they have the greatest stake. 

Meanwhile, this year’s panel webinars also facilitated greater focus on enduring issues such as gender considerations in CA operations (CAO) and allied and multinational perspectives. 

This year’s discussion picked up on the previous conclusion that CA can find better integration as a force for influence, collaboration and competition for convergent threats and challenges for Multi-Domain/Information Operations (MDO/IO) in support of Joint All-Domain Operations (JADO). As the nation’s “warrior-diplomats,” the CA Corps must modernize, especially for gray-zone competition, by fostering a learning organization within and beyond military structures. It must reinforce supported command understanding of JADO-relevant CA core capabilities and must seize opportunities to be a greater force for influence through national strategic initiatives like the Stabilization Assistance Review5 and the Global Engagement Center.6 And, it must help build an industrial base in applied social sciences and related technologies.

To help provide contextual backdrop for the conversation, in August 2020, the Association published a Spotlight paper with the Association of the United States Army (AUSA), with which it partners. This report asserted that, to win in the competition continuum, the Army needs to “expand the battlefield” beyond physical domains to cognitive capacities, such as CA.7 These full-spectrum capabilities to engage and influence the strategic and operating environment in decisive ways are as essential to war-winning as combat forces and do not exist merely to set conditions for victory in conflict or return to competition:

The Army’s ability to influence populations and leaders through an effective narrative, combined with unified actions and informational power, are critical to holistic MDO. . . . It must not only build partner institutional and governance capacities and joint, interorganizational and multinational (JIM) networks in order to see, understand, shape and influence the operating environment.8 

To win in moral competition, it must also grow the needed strategic and operational capital that relationship-building creates—that also shapes success in crisis response—and meet nonlinear challenges like hybrid warfare.

Operationalizing integrated physical and informational power, however, requires institutionalizing it. The Army does not holistically manage its capabilities for competition in the moral dimension with the same energy that it does for those capabilities in the material dimension. The U.S. Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command (Airborne), or USACAPOC(A), a clear example of both the problem and much of the solution, is not optimally structured for success in the competition continuum. To remedy this, the Spotlight recommends that the Army:

. . . should establish an engagement or influence warfighting function, with its own unified command structure, such as a U.S. Army Engagement Command. . . . It should also establish a center of excellence to organize all the forces and activities—with strategic direction from the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA)—that should be able to maneuver in competition the same way that infantry and armor do in combat. Above all, it must invest in people more than platforms.9

Keynote Speakers

Following opening remarks by Association President Colonel Joe Kirlin, USA, Ret., Lieutenant General Charles Hooper, USA, Ret., former Director of DSCA, started the discussion with “Beyond Random Acts of Kindness: Coordinating Military Engagement in the Era of Multi-Domain Operations.” With moderation by Association Vice President Major General Daniel Ammerman, USA, Ret., Hooper talked extensively of CA’s critical role in one of the main objectives of the most recent National Security Strategy and National Defense Strategy; namely, to “strengthen alliances and attract new partners,” a theme frequently cited at the Symposium.

As one of the nation’s foremost experts on security cooperation, foreign military sales and the Chinese military, Hooper stressed that the unique strategic comparative advantage of the United States has come from its approach to a security cooperation that earns rather than buys friends, and from the understanding that by strengthening alliances and providing consistent long-term strategic, political and economic value to its partners, the U.S. strengthens its own security. Much of this has come through interpersonal connections that activities such as CAO enable. Persistent military engagement, now more important than ever, should be an alliance management tool of first resort, at operational and tactical as well as strategic levels. “The challenge is not attracting new partners; it is about retaining partners,” he noted. 

As a diverse force, CA is singularly suited for this type of civilian, civic and military engagement that is ordered to gaining and maintaining influence in competition. Key U.S. military engagement resources—such as CA, psychological operations (PSYOP), information operations (IO), foreign area officers (FAOs) and state partnerships—under the direction of DSCA (as noted in the AUSA Spotlight), must become coordinated and synchronized. “Our engagement with our partners must be persistent, not episodic, to build the long-term relationships that provide our partners with the value they desire and [to] build human capital.” Normalizing a CA element at embassy country teams could also help with this. “We’re not building nations anymore,” he concluded. “We’re building networks.”

Lieutenant General Jody J. Daniels, former CA officer and the first woman selected as Chief of Army Reserve and Commanding General, U.S. Army Reserve Command (USARC), followed up with remarks on “Civil Affairs and the Future of the Army Reserve.”

As it is an integral part of every major military operation involving the Army Reserve, she recognized that USACAPOC(A) provides the preponderance of conventional CA, PSYOP and IO support, with 90 percent of Army CA, 100 percent of its PSYOP and the DoD’s only strategic CA engagement capability. This highly diverse force for full-spectrum irregular warfare support to MDO provides critical cultural understanding, access and influence. In recognition of its contribution to the CA force and to professional development, she acknowledged the Association among her own extended team.

Among her goals for WayPoint 2028 (formerly, How the Army Fights) is to build senior officer and NCO-grade strength through junior leader development. As it is one of the busiest parts of her command, she stressed how CA units must continue to be ready to deploy rapidly and be effective immediately. “CA must continue to focus on training, education and diversity of skills and experiences to better understand and appreciate culture,” she said, echoing the business community’s finding that workforce diversity produces better outcomes. To a greater extent than most of the reserve, it must “focus on junior leader development, empowering people and leveraging the team,” including interorganizational networks.

Brigadier General Robert S. Cooley, Jr., a CA officer and now U.S. Army Reserve Command Chief of Staff, closed with further discussion on how CA, as a unique “full-spectrum enterprise,” must be prepared to deliver more global influence through its unique “last inch influence” capability through civil reconnaissance (CR) and civil engagement (CE). CA is a particularly qualified cognitive domain/warfare force “that plays in spaces that are hard to quantify and qualify.” Structured more optimally, it can “package, deliver and validate influence at the time and place of our choosing” and it can “manage the transition points in MDO.”

The CA Corps, he added, needs to think about itself differently—to see itself as part of an “enterprise of enterprises,” per the Joint Concept for Human Aspects of the Operational Environment. It must think more creatively about power, information and influence, reconsider the concept of CAO, and look to be globally integrated along interorganizational lines. “We have moved to different modes of basic interaction, how we absorb information and how we fundamentally communicate.” Cooley noted how forums such as the Symposium are critical to this process, bringing in outside thinkers and introducing the Corps, for example, to the U.S. State Department Global Engagement Center (in 2019). 

“The CA enterprise cannot fail. It must have the hard discussions now. We have organizations and leadership emotionally attached to yesterday’s organizational charts,” he concluded.

Workshop I: Civil Affairs Proponent

Workshops began later that day, the first run by the Proponent at the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School (USAJFKSWCS)/Special Operations Center of Excellence (SOCoE), kicked off with an information brief from the Army’s CA capability manager that focused on CA in current Army initiatives. As a follow-up to their presentation at the Roundtable in April, Colonel Jay Liddick and Colonel Dennis J. Cahill, USA, Ret., provided an update on Army CA force modernization activities and their integration into ongoing Army initiatives to build the future force. Discussants included Colonel Scot Storey, Director, U.S. Army Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute, and Colonel Mark Cunningham, U.S. Marine Corps, Commanding Officer, 3rd Civil Affairs Group.

The brief contained four main items: a summary of recent changes made to the structure and responsibilities of the CA branch proponent and its force modernization directorate; a presentation of the new CA logic map that will appear in the next version of Field Manual (FM) 3-57, Civil Affairs Operations;10 a discussion of the means, ways and ends that make up the CA operational approach; and a comprehensive discussion of the themes and messages used by the CA capability management division as it describes the execution of Army CAO in competition, large-scale combat operations (LSCO) and rear areas during Army conversations of future force requirements.

In the first item of the brief, Colonel Liddick described U.S. Army Special Operations Command’s (USASOC’s) August 2019 decision to create the USASOC Force Modernization Center (UFMC) as the single entity responsible for USASOC capability development and force modernization. This consolidated the force modernization functions and responsibilities for the three Army branches—CA, PSYOP and special forces—formerly executed by the commanding general (CG) of the USAJFKSWCS SOCoE, and the force modernization functions and responsibilities for the Army special operations units assigned to USASOC, formerly executed by multiple sections across the USASOC staff.

The first step in that action was the immediate reassignment of the O-6-level branch commandants to USASOC to assume the role of capability manager for their respective branches. They were replaced by O-5-level branch proponent directors under the CG, USAJFKSWCS, who retained the branch commandant responsibilities of doctrine development, training development, leader development, education and personnel management. Lieutenant Colonel Scott Dickerson, who led the CA Force Modernization Assessment (FMA), assumed that role for the CA branch.

The CA branch proponent’s priorities and actions included:

  • urgent revision of the April 2019 version of FM 3-57, Civil Affairs Operations;
  • doctrinal review of joint, multi-service, Army [U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC)], U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM), USAJFKSWCS, NATO civil-military cooperation (CIMIC) and interagency publications;
  • a temporary hold on CA Army Technique Publications and graphic training aids;
  • CA combined-arms training strategy operational planning team;
  • revisions to Army Regulation (AR) 600-3, The Army Personnel Development System, to AR 600-25, Salutes, Honors and Courtesy, and to Department of the Army Pamphlet (DA Pam) 611-21, Military Occupational Classification and Structure;
  • branch refinement, including new military occupational specialties (MOSs) for active component enlisted CA Soldiers, direct commissioning of 38G military government specialists and a study to integrate FAOs into the branch;
  • a CA leader development roadmap; and
  • inculcating governance as a CA role in doctrine.

The next step was the formal reassignment of the CA force modernization directorate, led by Colonel Cahill, from the CA branch proponent at the UFMC on 1 July 2020, redesignated as the CA capability manager division with Colonel Liddick as the CA Capability Manager and Colonel Cahill as the Deputy CA Capability Manager. Despite the transfer to higher headquarters, the division has retained its former responsibilities for concepts, experimentation, requirements and capabilities development, as well as exercise support for the total CA force—special operations, conventional, active and reserve components. As part of the UFMC, it synchronizes and integrates CA doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leadership and education, personnel, facilities and policy (DOTMLPF-P) solution sets in support of Army and joint capability programs in coordination with the CA branch proponent, UFMC capabilities development and integration division (CDID), fielded force integration division, USASOC deputy and assistant capability managers, all Army CDIDs across the Army Futures Command (AFC), and the SOCOM joint CA proponent.

The CA Capability Manager’s priorities and actions included:

  • integration of the CA Capability Manager Team into the UFMC;
  • completion of the CA FMA;
  • WayPoint 2028 integration;
  • Army functional and supporting concept development;
  • CA Solution-Army program development;
  • military government/transitional governance operational planning team;
  • support to 38X (CA candidate) program development;
  • CA force design update junior—consolidation of 38Gs at CA Command (CACOM);
  • 95th CA Brigade (SO)(A) DOTMLPF-P change recommendation, internal reorganization;
  • an information advantage way ahead (this includes the: Information Warfare Task Force; Multi-Domain Task Force and Intelligence, Information, Cyber Electronic Warfare and Space; and Information Warfare Brigade);
  • rewrite of DoD Directive (DoDD) 2000.13, Civil Affairs; and
  • irregular warfare forums.

In the second item of the brief, Colonel Liddick presented the new CA logic map that was developed for rapid revision of FM 3-57, Civil Affairs Operations; a draft of this will be staffed for field review and comment before the end of 1st quarter, Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21). The logic map framework follows this line: the conduct of joint operations is Unified Action; the Army’s contribution to joint operations is Unified Land Operations; and the CA contribution to Unified Land Operations is Civil Affairs Operations. It then lays out a revision of the CA role and core competencies that appeared in FM 3-57 in 2019. 

The revised role focuses Army CA forces on governance: to engage and leverage the civil component of the operating environment while enhancing, enabling or providing governance. Governance, as defined in joint doctrine, refers to “the state’s ability to serve the citizens through the rules, processes, and behavior by which interests are articulated, resources are managed, and power is exercised in a society.”11 The revised core competencies are now focused on transitional governance, civil network development and engagement, civil knowledge integration and civil-military integration. Together, these competencies put CA at the center of the activities of all elements of national power, for consideration and integration into military plans and operations. They also recognize governance as a key ingredient in successful stabilization across the competition continuum, which, ultimately, is the endstate goal of military operations.

The logic map also contains a new list of CA missions required to execute the core competencies—CR, CE, civil network development, civil information evaluation, establishment of a civil-military operations center, support to civil administration and transitional military authority. These missions use stability mechanisms and integrating processes in unified land operations to enable mission command, gain and maintain influence, maintain operational tempo, preserve combat power, consolidate gains and create effects in the civil component.

In the third briefing item, Colonel Liddick revealed an operational approach for CA, organized in terms of the means, ways and ends, that demonstrates how CA forces support military operations across the competition continuum. In other words, the operational approach outlines the CA units of action, authorities and processes (means) used to conduct key tasks under the core competencies (ways) in order to achieve the desired purpose, effects and endstate (ends) for which military forces are employed in competition, LSCO and transition back to competition.

In the final item of the brief, Colonel Cahill highlighted the themes and messages used by the CA capability management division across AFC, TRADOC and USASOC to describe CAO execution in competition, LSCO and rear areas during Army conversations of future force requirements. He highlighted three points in particular:

  • Army CA is an information-related capability, but its broader, active role of enabling, enhancing or providing governance increasingly places Army CA under the maneuver support function, which is where the Army usually categorizes CA in depictions of the Army in WayPoint 2028 and AimPoint 2035;
  • the term “civil affairs” refers to the human factors that motivate people and organizations (e.g., needs or interests), what they do to pursue those interests (functions), the resources they have to achieve success (capabilities) and the existing environmental conditions that could hinder success (vulnerabilities); and
  • CA Soldiers execute tasks with interorganizational partners and in whole-of-government approaches to meet stabilization challenges in competition, in LSCO in rear areas during LSCO and in the transition back to competition. These tasks are designed to understand CA in a given area of operations and to reduce the need to apply military resources against civilian problem sets.

Colonel Cahill used AFC, TRADOC and USASOC slides to describe how the Army will “fight” with CA in competition, LSCO and corps rear/consolidation areas. In competition, CA forces—active, reserve, special operations and conventional—execute the CA core competencies in global persistent engagement activities and through interorganizational cooperation with unified action partners. Together, they map the human terrain and create conditions that promote or sustain strong governance and stable environments. If required, a CA unit may stand up a CA task force (CATF) for command-and-control support to U.S. interagency response to a natural or man-made disaster that requires medical, engineer and MP capabilities in addition to CA and interagency assets. 

In LSCO, CA forces operate with maneuver forces to confirm or deny conditions, attitudes and behaviors of populations and government institutions in areas of operation and influence and, as needed, to mobilize civilian resources against civilian problem sets and military requirements. In rear areas, CA taps into existing political, economic, social and other civil networks that would normally exercise the stability activities of civil security, civil control, essential services, economic and infrastructure development and governance long before military forces arrive. Their ability to successfully consolidate gains in rear areas depends on how well CA forces executed their core competencies in theater in competition.

Colonel Cunningham, in a follow-up to the Roundtable, reminded the audience of how Marine CA is fully integrated in Marine Air-Ground Task Force Information Groups for Operations in the information environment. The Marines, in fact, consider information a joint warfighting domain, an idea that the Army remains hesitant to embrace. Many agreed that the Marine model of CA in anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) in particular could also be instructive for Army CA, meriting closer attention from the CA proponent and AFC.

Workshop II: USACAPOC(A)

The second workshop was on USACAPOC(A) and featured the new CG, Brigadier General Jeffrey Coggin. His command strategic initiatives focus on “harnessing collective influence” to integrate CA, PSYOP and IO, as well as growing functional specialists and other human capital in partnership with the private sector and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The command overview, moderated by new Chief of Strategic Initiatives Colonel Marshall Straus Scantlin, included command major objectives, values and lines of effort (LoEs). The workshop spent a great deal of time on USACAPOC(A)’s contribution to Army and joint dominant convergence (information advantage) as well as on the 38G functional specialist program.

Brigadier General Coggin shared his vision for USACAPOC(A) to become among the most highly-trained, professional and ready operational commands in the Army, prepared on a moment’s notice to conduct the full spectrum of integrated CAO, PSYOP and IO in support of MDO. He then communicated his command priorities—people, readiness, modernization and reform. Among his command values was to “realize and advocate that the CA, PSYOP and IO skills we bring to bear in the physical domain can also come to bear influence and effects in the cognitive domain.”

The four command LoEs and activities apply across CA, PSYOP and IO organizations and personnel. Innovation and culture are important for the future role that the command has in the U.S. Army, with modernization cutting across the first three LoEs:

  • LoE 1 (manning) focuses on retention and recruiting. Retention includes anticipating the needs of Soldiers and providing meaningful training. Recruiting involves bringing qualified Soldiers back to USACAPOC(A), transitioning from active to reserve billets, transferring will-train Troop Program Units from other reserve formations to the command and boarding qualified personnel to be 38G functional specialists.
  • LoE 2 (training) looks at adaptive training in the COVID-19 environment at schools, overseas deployments for training, culminating training events and unit events and at the changes in the reserve Captains Career Course program of instruction.
  • LoE 3 (transformation) focuses on turning in or laterally transferring excess equipment and on receiving new equipment, resulting in more time to maintain authorized equipment and to train on new equipment. USACAPOC(A) is the first USARC to receive joint light tactical vehicles (JLTVs). The 353rd CA Command and 2d PSYOP Group will receive 548 JLTVs in FY21.

The final line of effort, LoE 4 (innovation) is most significant to the unique Army and joint capabilities that the USARC CG, Lieutenant General Daniels, had mentioned in her earlier remarks as something that CA brings. It currently focuses on the 38G program, Military Support to Governance, and on “dominant convergence (information innovation).” The 38G program proponent is collaborating with institutions like the Smithsonian to provide expert-level training and to build a community of interest between not only the 38G specialty and a partner institution but also within the 18 specialties and the greater 38G branch. Recruiting is also underway for professionals for direct appointments and transfers for one of four sectors and 18 specialties within the 38G program that USACAPOC(A) utilizes.

1. Economy and Infrastructure:

  • 4A: industry and production
  • 5Y: emergency management
  • 6C: finance, money and banking
  • 6E: commerce and trade
  • 6F: transportation
  • 6G: public water and sanitation
  • 6R: technology and telecommunications
  • 6U: agri-business and food

2. Government and Administration:

  • 4C: civil administration
  • 4D: laws, regulations and policies
  • 4E: environment and natural resources
  • 4F: energy

3. Rule of Law and Civil Security:

  • 4G: judiciary and legal system
  • 4H: corrections
  • 6H: law and border enforcement

4. Public and Social Services:

  • 6D: education
  • 6V: heritage and preservation
  • 6W: archivist

“Dominant convergence (information innovation)” features collaboration with U.S. Army Cyber Command to achieve information advantage and cognitive dominance through new ways of assimilating cognitive and technical capacities and capabilities to support MDO/IO and JADO. As collaborative influencers, USACAPOC(A)’s integration of CA, PSYOP and IO forces creates converged dominance with collective influence. 

These formations will conduct reconnaissance, targeting and assessments in the information environment to unify and synchronize all influence-related capabilities and operations. They will also: 

  • enable application of information advantage capabilities applied with the speed of relevance;
  • enable operations to disrupt, deny, degrade and influence a combatant command’s priority threats in multiple domains across the competition continuum; and
  • synchronize reconnaissance, targeting and assessments from tactical to strategic levels in the information and cognitive domains. 

In this way, they can create unity of effort across interagency departments and organizations and so can reduce adversary traction and effectiveness in the MDO/IO environment.

Workshop III: Noncommissioned Officer Forum

On the second day, the Symposium resumed with “The Role of the CA NCO in Multi-Domain and Joint All-Domain Operations.” Retired Sergeant Major Timothy Kohring, Supervisor Training Specialist for Collective Training at the Army CA Branch Proponent, USAJFKSWCS at Fort Bragg, NC, facilitated the newly-established NCO forum, which also included: Sergeant Major Garric Banfield, CA Proponent Sergeant-Major, USAJFKSWCS; Command Sergeant Major Jeremiah Grow, 83rd CA Battalion; and Master Gunnery Sergeant James Flaherty, G9 Planner, 3rd CA Group (CAG), USMC Reserves.

The overarching observation was that the lack of doctrinal and institutional specificity on the role of CA NCOs in MDO (or any NCOs within MDO) is a shortfall that requires both proponent and Army attention. The conversation then moved quickly into how the NCOs’ main mission to supervise, train, manage and lead their Soldiers maintains an element of stability and continuity to enable the Army and Marines to carry out the mission in whatever operational environment they encounter.

The CA NCO in particular can do even more than most, especially given how reserve NCOs can leverage the knowledge, skills and other capacities unique to their civilian lives. These attributes may, in fact, be as or more important than their military skills in many situations. The group agreed that their services should better enable CA NCOs to obtain higher civilian education, technical training, language skills, etc.—that are hard enough for active component NCOs to access but even more difficult within the reserves. This relatively low-cost, high-yield investment is offset by the fact that, in a conventional sense, CA is not a highly technologically driven force. Its human capital is, in fact, its warfighting platform.

An indicator of this is the generational change from CA NCOs of the past, for whom a college education was more unusual, to CA NCOs of the present, for whom it is now a rarity to not have some post-secondary education or perhaps even an advanced degree. Still, the promotional systems in the Army and Marines lag in recognizing this as a vital component of contemporary CA NCO capacities. While this education is a positive for most Soldiers and Marines competing for promotion, it is not uncommon for boards to consider this highly important discriminator, especially for CA NCOs, as little more than an “extra merit.”

Still, in terms of the CA FMA, the proponent should look to complete an overarching civil knowledge platform that CA NCOs would be well-suited to manage. Single-sourced and shareable across the entire expanded CA Corps, it would house information that CA professionals can quickly and comprehensively leverage for preparation for any mission in every corner of the world. While identified many times over the past two decades, with a fair amount of investment over the last few years, this initiative has produced uneven results. It has worked well for active, special operations CA that primarily support special operations missions, but not for reserve CA that are focused on a multitude of conventional maneuver forces, on mission and on regional and operational command requirements as needed.

Workshop IV: Junior CA Leaders in Current Operations

The fourth and final workshop is also the newest, arising out of an effort by the Association to give greater voice to junior CA leaders on the future of their force. Army Strategist and CA officer then-Captain James P. Micciche, Security Forces Assistance Command G5, led a discussion of current CAO with those working closer to the ground in the major combatant command (COCOM) regions worldwide. The workshop featured five CA professionals who represent the whole of the CA enterprise—active, reserve, conventional, special operations, Army and Marines. In addition to its joint and multi-component nature, the workshop presented a global overview of how CA elements support defense and U.S. government (USG) objectives and goals, especially given all of their deployments to each of the global combatant command areas of responsibility (AoRs) over the past year. Participants included:

  • Major Thomas Westphal, 351st CACOM, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command/Republic of Korea (RoK); CA Planning Team, Combined Command Post Training 20.2, RoK;
  • Major Majel Savage, 352nd CACOM, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM); Civil Liaison Team Jordan Team Chief, Joint Training Center-Jordan;
  • Captain Lukasz Kramarz, 83rd CA Battalion, U.S. European Command; CA Team Lithuania, Team Leader;
  • Staff Sergeant Abraham Blocker, USMC, 4th CAG, U.S. Southern Command; 4th CAG Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force, Guatemala; and
  • Staff Sergeant Christopher Bryant, 91st CA Battalion, U.S. Africa Command; Civil-Military Support Element, Burkina Faso, Team Medic.

The workshop highlighted how CA operators integrate into the joint force across the entire competition continuum, enabling the Army to execute all four of its strategic roles and for the Marine Corps to do likewise. Examples included: planning CAO and civil-military operations (CMO) support to LSCO alongside RoK partners (armed conflict); enhancing the capacity of the Jordanian Armed Forces through developing their female soldiers and officers (cooperation); and denying transnational criminal organizations access to key terrain in Central America (competition below levels of conflict). The workshop clearly demonstrated the importance of CA in great-power competition. 

Key discussion points included: 

  • Cross-service and cross-component collaboration. There is immense benefit in utilizing all aspects of the CA enterprise to achieve objectives. However, there are also impediments to achieving cross-enterprise unity of action and effort. The most common observation was the need for pre-mission training and coordination between the various compositions and services, something that is not always feasible under current manning, mobilization and deployment constraints. 
  • Civil information management (CIM). CIM is a major enabler of mission success and is a facilitator of unified action and partner-nation collaboration; but there are systemic and structural issues with CA CIM doctrine and processes. The lack of a common CIM platform for the entire CA enterprise is a major detriment to unified action, impeding understanding of the operational environment among teams from different services and components. Additionally, the lack of an organic CA assessment framework for stability and the human domain results in a lack of common operational picture among CA teams operating in the same AoR, preventing seamless coordination and mission transition. Finally, the inability to share information/data with non-USG partners is a major impediment to unified action through CIM to support to mission objectives. Social network analysis provides tremendous value-added to operational CA teams but, once again, the lack of an overarching framework impedes cross-component collaboration. 
  • Multi-domain effects. Within the context of MDO, all panelists agreed that the information domain is the most important to CAO and CMO within an AoR to support USG objectives. This capacity is underdeveloped, and relationships built with IO elements in-theater were often slow to yield results. 
  • Vulnerable populations. One of the key aspects of multiple mission sets for competition below levels of armed conflict and cooperation elements of the competition continuum is in identifying vulnerable populations whom competitors and rivals target with malign influence to achieve their objectives or to degrade U.S. influence. This is an important aspect of how CA enables success in competition and assists partner nations in building resiliency to such nefarious actions. 
  • NCOs. Many panelists highlighted how important building a professional NCO Corps is for partner nations and how especially reserve CA NCOs regularly showed what “right looks like” in terms of the citizen-warrior. Further, while tactical level CMO training is important for partner force professionalization, institutional development is likewise necessary to ensure that it becomes acculturated through doctrine and training pipelines.

Panel I: Interagency Young Leaders

Panels on special topics began later on the second day. The first was a well-established Symposium interagency coordination forum that has picked up on the youth movement in Association platforms: “Young Leaders Working Across Gaps and Along Seams.” Civil Affairs Association Director Mr. Ryan McCannell, who is also Director, Center for Conflict and Violence Prevention, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), facilitated the discussion in which two of the three panelists, from Department of State (DoS) and USAID, also serve in Army and Marine reserve CA:

  • Ms. Caitlin Conaty, Women, Peace and Security Advisor, Office of the Undersecretary of Defense, Policy; former Africa Specialist, DoS Bureau for Conflict and Stabilization Operations (State/CSO);
  • Captain Emelia Fujita, former U.S. Special Operations Command Africa Liaison to USAID/West Africa Regional Mission in Accra, Ghana; and
  • Sergeant John Phillips, USMC Reserve and USAID Management and Program Analyst; on detail as a Stabilization Advisor to State/CSO and Bureau for Population, Refugees and Migration.

The discussion focused on the role of CA in supporting interagency relationships at the operational and tactical levels. This approach differed from past years, when the focus was at the strategic level and centered on various “inside the Beltway” policy processes and strategy documents that nominally set the conditions for interagency collaboration. This year, in keeping with the theme of putting the spotlight on the future of CA, the interagency panel highlighted the work that younger personnel working for DoD, DoS and USAID perform in-theater to close gaps and shore up the seams of interagency collaboration. 

Drawing from their experiences working within, or detailed to, at least two of the “3D” agencies, the panelists reviewed the benefits that CA brings to interagency collaboration, as well as the challenges they face. In particular, the panelists cited improved access to non- or semi-permissive environments as a key benefit of collaboration, and one that can flow in both directions, depending on the flexibilities and limitations associated with COCOM vs. chief-of- mission authorities. CA teams often operate in a liminal space between these two command structures, where their networks and contacts with civilian agency colleagues can offer or benefit from additional leverage for commanders and country teams alike. For example, CA teams can sometimes provide access and security for civilian colleagues to unstable regions (e.g., in the coastal regions of Kenya). They can check in on projects and populations of interest to civilian agencies on their behalf, when conditions are unsafe for civilians (e.g., Northeastern Syria). CA teams can even benefit from indirect access, through their civilian contacts, to enhance CR in areas that military personnel may not be authorized to visit (e.g., parts of the Sahel following the Tongo-Tongo ambush). 

A second theme was centered on information-sharing and the sensitivities it sometimes provokes among different agencies. Clearly, the diplomatic, defense and development agencies (as well as the intelligence community, law enforcement agencies and other players) all scan and assess the operational environment for their own unique purposes. However, it can be challenging to request and obtain access to other agencies’ information sources and products unless the requestor is sensitive to the acceptable uses—and even the terminology—that each agency employs regarding the information it collects. Panelists and participants in the dialogue highlighted how CA personnel can serve as a bridge across these information gaps, but only to the extent that they recognize how CR differs from intelligence in purpose, classification and use. Conflating the two complicates the challenge of building useful information sharing relationships with USAID and its many (non-governmental) implementing partners. The panelists cited instances where, for example, an NGO receiving USAID development assistance funds might freely share their assessments of local conditions, until and unless they hear military colleagues use terms like “intel” and “exploitation of the local population” associated with their data. The takeaway is that CA personnel need to understand and communicate the purposes of CR effectively and need to be sensitive to the red flags of non-military partners.

Many of the panel’s other remarks reflect persistent challenges for CAO in stabilization: the gap between theoretical collaboration—for example, the CA Qualification Course versus the actual experience of working in a country team setting; problems with CIM and the transfer of data across platforms; and the constant handover between redeploying and incoming CA teams, which tend to cycle through deployments more quickly than a typical Foreign Service tour. The panelists’ recommendations focused on: improving the regularity of pre- and post-deployment briefs with partner agencies; and the importance of persistent structures at the country team level—such as civil-military support elements at embassy Offices of Defense or Security Cooperation—to ensure institutional knowledge and to maintain relationships, despite all the comings and goings.

All three panelists expressed that CA’s role is critical to interagency collaboration. The community has learned from its occasional missteps and applied many important lessons over the past several years. If it continues along these lines, CA can help the United States to “secure the victory” in competition in some of the toughest spots in the world. This is gaining new context for interagency engagement and civil-military integration “left of bang” under the new United States Strategy to Prevent Conflict and Promote Stability—a natural progression from the Stabilization Assistance Review and Defense Support to Stabilization concepts.12 This will receive more treatment at the spring Roundtable.

Panel II: Gender, Population Engagement and Civil Affairs

The second panel webinar was on a topic driven by the Army’s growing interest in the role of women in land warfare operations, the unique role of CA in this and how that should be reflected doctrinally. Given his coordinating role, retired Army Colonel Bill Hestwood, G-5, U.S. Army Combined Arms Center, explained the Army’s look at gender considerations in CAO doctrine. In addition to those who worked on this project, a panel that included women who are CA and DoS leaders joined the conversation on “Gender, Population Engagement and Civil Affairs: Army Doctrinal Changes.” The panel included:

  • Ms. Caitlin Conaty, Women, Peace and Security Advisor, OUSD/Policy; former Africa Specialist, DoS/CSO;
  • Colonel Jody M. Prescott, USA, Ret., Judge Advocate;
  • Colonel Caroline Pogge, Commander, 1st Brigade, Atlantic Training Division; 
  • Lieutenant Colonel Susan Gannon, CENTCOM Military Advisor to USAID; and
  • Lieutenant Kristen Kennedy, 450th CA Battalion (Airborne).

Global competition and conflict are evolving rapidly, and the need to identify sustainable security and stability solutions to meet the needs of entire populations is greater than ever. As adversaries and competitors continue to seek strategic advantage, the United States and its allies and partners must be better prepared to meet security challenges by recognizing the diverse roles women play in peace as well as in conflict, and by incorporating gender perspectives in operations. This drives DoD’s Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Act & Strategy along three efforts: modeling WPS in the composition of the joint force; working with partners to similarly diversify their fighting forces; and minimizing gender-related violations of human rights in the joint force and its partners.13 As an adaptation of the 2000 UN Security Council Resolution 1325, Women, Peace, and Security, the DoD WPS Strategy views these efforts as essential for national and international security as well as for operational effectiveness in the competition continuum.

Mr. Hestwood explained how the Army’s interest in doctrinal integration of gender in CAO doctrine. Among the important changes to the revision of FM 3-57, due out in mid-2021, will be the inclusion of WPS principles into CA doctrine. Another recommendation is the repurposing of the civil-military operations center (CMOC) to facilitate greater gender considerations in day-to-day CAO, including CR and CE on the ground, as articulated in the recently revised UN Infantry Battalion Manual

Mr. Hestwood conducted a short survey of the presence or absence of gender in joint, U.S. Army, NATO and Australian Army doctrines. While, for example, Joint Publication (JP) 3-29, Foreign Humanitarian Assistance, and JP 3-07, Stability, briefly discuss the role of gender in operations, other publications, such as JP 3-06, Joint Urban Operations, JP 3-57, Civil-Military Operations, and FM 3-57 do not—reflecting what Colonel Prescott calls serious “gender blindness” in U.S. military doctrine. NATO civil-military doctrine, however, discusses the importance of gender considerations and gender advisors. Meanwhile, NATO has the Nordic Center for Gender in Military Operations involved in updates to NATO operations doctrines, to include gender considerations. Australian doctrine provides a good example of more robust inclusion of gender in Joint Doctrine Note 2-18, Gender in Military Operations, and its civil-military coordination doctrine (Land Warfare Doctrine 3-8-6, Civil-Military Cooperation). 

With the additional consideration of the UN’s foundational role in the creation and global socialization of WPS in peace and military operations policies, the panel consensus was that gender is a critical element of military operations in an era of people-centric competition for influence, especially when considering the risks of ignoring it in planning and in execution. Gender considerations, as civil considerations, need to go well beyond FM 3-57’s view of women as “vulnerable” people. Rather than the potential problem that this mindset implies, women provide opportunities as the primary way to gain and maintain access and influence among certain civilian populations, especially in competition, not just in conflict.

With a universal understanding of this, operations would have greater information and intelligence about all human factors in the operational environment, due to a more comprehensive assessment of friendly and adversarial actors. Gender-focused operations can better provide strategic warning and identify and mitigate unintended consequences of military action that inflict harm on host-nation civilians. Lieutenant Colonel Gannon and other CA leaders on the panel noted that the above understanding of integration of gender is much better at the tactical than at the operational and strategic levels. Lieutenant Kennedy suggested that—beyond the obvious need for the CA Corps to recruit and develop more women operators and leaders—women CA leadership needs to grow more from the ground up rather than as late branch transfers “finding their way into the formations.” She also noted the shortage of female CA NCOs, both in the formations and at discussions like the Symposium and Roundtable.

She and Colonel Pogge (who spent most of their careers in CA) added that the CA Corps needs to look more at how to capitalize on women already in CA formations, forming gender analyses around questions like: whom might this course of action impact in a different way?; have we accounted for the presence of women, especially culturally?; and, most important, what gender-related perspectives are missing? 

Among other implications of the doctrinal update is the need for supported leadership of CA commands to know, understand and integrate the unique capacities of female personnel for maximum strategic and operational effect. Gender considerations and WPS principles must be integral to the decisionmaking, planning and coordination process. As the UN Infantry Battalion Manual logically stresses, capabilities for cultural understanding and engagement of the entire population require the proportionate participation of personnel who represent at least 50 percent of it.14 

In a sense, this also invokes the warfighting axiom of “we train as we fight,” which has implications for the education and training of all military personnel on WPS and gender considerations, mainstreaming and engagement. To channel the previously-cited AUSA Spotlight, operationalizing gender considerations in CAO requires institutionalizing them. Beyond doctrinal changes, Colonel Pogge suggested, USAJFKSWCS also needs to integrate WPS and gender considerations in its CA education and training curriculum, for all CA personnel. 

This would not only enable CA to maximize CAO, but would also help the rest of supported forces to integrate their operations. As the DoD’s primary force that is specifically trained and educated to understand, engage and influence the human geography and to provide expertise in civil considerations, CA professionals must include gender considerations. CA core competencies, whether in the current FM 3-57 or under consideration in the update, provide ample opportunity to incorporate WPS principles to win influence in competition.

In flow with greater awareness of CA’s comparative advantage in the diversity of its force, the group acknowledged that effective CAO and CE goes well beyond having women who can think and talk about gender or engaging with the female local populace. “It is not enough to say that because you interact with women in communities, or because you have women on your teams, that you have checked the box on WPS,” Colonel Gannon noted. Effective influence on cognitive aspects of operations entails inclusion and integration of gender considerations in all phases of planning and operations, as Ms. Conaty observed.

Gender mainstreaming also entails the criticality of a having a diversity of perspectives in political-military decisionmaking, as well as planning and execution, of influence operations in the information environment and human geography. CA in particular maintains a critical comparative advantage in its civilian-acquired skills, mainly from its reserve formations, but also given the recent youth movement in the CA Corps. The same must be true for ensuring similar proportions in staffing, as well as in the rank and file of CA as prescribed by the UN among its civil-military operators.

Advancing the U.S. strategy on WPS, Ms. Conaty added, also provides a unique engagement opportunity for the U.S. to strengthen relationships with allies and partners through collective efforts to reinforce women’s empowerment, meaningful participation in decisionmaking, protection from violence and access to resources. Among all U.S. forces, CA is uniquely poised to advance this development along multinational lines that are increasingly integral to U.S. national security interests.

Panel III: Allied and Multinational Perspectives

Wednesday, 7 October, opened up with two more panel webinars, the first on allied and multinational perspectives on civil-military engagement and influence. Updates during the well-attended discussion on similar civil-military force developments and initiatives—especially with regard to influence operations—came from the UN’s Office of Military Affairs (OMA), NATO CIMIC Center of Excellence (CCoE),15 British Army Land Warfare Center16 and Canadian Army Influence Activities Task Force.17 

Facilitated by Distinguished Member of the CA Corps Christopher Holshek, Colonel, USA CA, Ret., the lineup included: 

  • Major General Hugh Van Roosen, Deputy Military Advisor, UN OMA;
  • Lieutenant Colonel Stefan Muehlich, Branch Chief, Concepts, Interoperability and Capabilities Branch, NATO CCoE;
  • Lieutenant Colonel Dave Allen, SO1 Stabilization, Warfare Branch, Land Warfare Center (U.K.);
  • Lieutenant Colonel Carolyne Lamarre, Commanding Officer, Influence Activities Task Force, Department of National Defense, Government of Canada; and
  • Major Charles Nadeau, Influence Activities Task Force, Department of National Defense, Government of Canada.

CA officer Major General Hugh Van Roosen, the second highest ranking UN military officer and highest-ranked U.S. officer in the UN military staff, briefed attendees on innovations in CIMIC and other engagement capabilities in UN peace operations. While the UN does not have a civil-military doctrine in the same sense that the U.S. and NATO do, it does have two complementary policies: one on “UN-CIMIC” for military peace operations forces; and well-developed and socialized guidelines on CIMIC in humanitarian assistance operations (UN-CMCoord).

For the first time in 10 years, OMA—after recently overhauling much of its military operations guidelines—is revising its UN-CIMIC Policy, to be completed in 2021. UN doctrine, as such, is moving to balance “CIMIC” as a staff function with that of “engagement” as an integral line of operation, already reflected in the January 2020 UN Infantry Battalion Manual. A critical new mission requirement in infantry battalions, which comprise 76 percent of deployed UN troops, is for an engagement platoon to be embedded in each battalion, which will consist of three to four engagement teams of four personnel. In addition to CE, the teams will also perform CR missions to improve UN “intelligence” on the “human terrain” and to integrate civil and military activities on the ground, as appropriate. 

The watershed requirement, however, is for all engagement platoons and CIMIC staff to comprise at least 50 percent women, in support of the Secretary General’s gender mainstreaming strategy for implementation of WPS (discussed by the previous panel). In this respect, the UN is raising a high bar even higher for troop contributing countries, including the U.S. and other NATO countries (women, for example, represent about 20 percent of the U.S. CA force).

While the CIMIC doctrinal changes are still under deliberation at UN Headquarters in New York (where Major General Van Roosen retired in February 2021 after being posted there for over two years), the resulting references should include a short, general document on UN-CIMIC policy and a manual on UN-CIMIC operations at operational and tactical levels. These should include tasks for evaluation of readiness for UN-CIMIC and the ability to support military IO and strategic communications, along with the UN military decisionmaking process. Also in progress is an engagement platoon handbook that will focus on techniques, tactics and procedures. 

What the documents will also clarify is how UN-CIMIC will continue to contribute to wider UN field mission coordination, multi-component planning and transition management, particularly at the operational level of integrated missions, providing an interesting model of best practice of civil-military integration for U.S. interagency-led stabilization operations.

Lieutenant Colonel Muehlich, from the CCoE, then offered perspectives on the role of NATO CIMIC in information warfare (IW). Beginning at the policy level, he explained that the national constitutions and laws of many NATO sending states often restrict “peacetime” deployments of national military forces outside of crisis response. “The perception of threat and the motivation to share sensitive national information varies not only for geographical reasons,” he added. In addition, NATO’s cohesion is currently at stake, preventing quick and effective adaptations for deeper, interallied integration for IW to counter, for example, hybrid warfare in Eastern Europe. “Individual countries tend to mitigate this challenge with more intense bilateral cooperation,” he clarified.

At the doctrinal level, and from a CIMIC perspective, NATO is in the process of evolving its doctrine from a “pre-conflict/conflict/post-conflict in non-Article 5 crisis response operations” paradigm to a “hybrid competition continuum” below the threshold of a conventional armed conflict and collective deterrence and defense setting. Most current NATO doctrine applies to “conflict,” “operations” or “crisis response,” which limits the Alliance’s abilities to react and, even more, to take proactive steps in times judicially defined as “peace time.” NATO has recently issued an operational warfighting strategy and is currently developing a warfighting capstone concept. The latter is expected to be issued by the end of 2021 and may define NATO’s approach to warfare for the next 20 years.

The CCoE’s involvement in the development of these references is to ensure appropriate reflection of civil-military considerations, while also ensuring that the new strategies are reflected in doctrinal updates of the NATO CIMIC doctrine to implement Civil-Military Interaction (CMI) policy. NATO civil-military policy and doctrine updates currently underway include: MC 411/2, the NATO policy on CMI; the NATO CIMIC doctrine, Allied Joint Publication 3.19; and a CIMIC Functional Planning Guide (operational and divisional levels). Parallel to this are updates to the CIMIC Tactical Planning Guide (brigade and battalion levels), followed by CIMIC Tactics, Techniques and Procedures and CIMIC Handbooks (battalion and company levels). The CCoE also participates in SHAPE (Supreme HQ Allied Powers Europe) updates and related publications to ensure a reflection of the CMI and CIMIC aspects of joint operations, IW, strategic communications, etc. Finally, the CCoE is contributing to a NATO policy on baseline requirements for civilian resilience and civil preparedness in the first quarter of 2021 and a derived strategic directive by mid-2021.

From a NATO perspective, CIMIC aims not so much to be a sensor of threats to the civil domain as to exercise influence over populations, hence the emphasis of NATO CIMIC on civil analysis and cooperation, when possible, with civilian entities. For largely political reasons, CIMIC operations and activities cannot target their own or allied countries’ populations for influence purposes. The decisive contribution of CIMIC to influence in competition is to help commanders and member states to gain awareness and understanding of the civil situation through its analysis and assessment.

Given the criticality of U.S.-European NATO cooperation and coordination to European security, the CCoE has initiated a “CIMIC-CA Synchronization Project” working title program along three lines of operation. First is co-education and training of CA and CIMIC personnel to understand respective policy mandates, authorities, capabilities and limitations, especially in support of vulnerable member states. This has included orientation for European-based or apportioned CA teams in Hungary, Norway and Estonia. After a pilot course in 2019, courses for Army and Marine CA elements were postponed from 2020 to the first half of 2021, to take place at least virtually, on leadership development and pre-deployment training. Second is harmonization between NATO and U.S. civil-military doctrines. The third is along institutional lines (e.g., with institutions that are connected to USAJFKSWCS, CA and CIMIC, such as the University of North Carolina, as well as the Civil Affairs Association) to increase intellectual capitalization and exchanges, especially among younger civil-military specialists. A first deliverable is a civil-military academic research book, planned to be released in 2021, with contributions from both sides of the Atlantic.

The CA-CIMIC initiative is discussed in detail in one of this year’s Civil Affairs Issue Papers; namely: “Civil Affairs and Civil-Military Cooperation: A Hybrid Solution to Defeat Hybrid Threats,” by Major Csaba Szabó and MSG Robert Nicholson.

Next came Lieutenant Colonel Allen’s update. “In an era of persistent competition,” he began, “the goal of our adversaries is to win without going to war: to achieve their objectives by breaking our willpower and impeding our decisionmaking, using attacks below the threshold that would prompt a war-fighting response whilst actively aiming to stay below the level of detection.” There are new tools, techniques and tactics to undermine political and social cohesion, and the means to make the connection to an audience ever more rapidly. “Information is now democratized,” he added. “It’s available for everyone.”

The current global pandemic has highlighted how the use of propaganda, data misuse, disinformation and strategic influence is presenting complex and rapidly-evolving challenges for researchers, civil society and of course for policymakers. “Our rivals and adversaries typically tailor their activities to remain below obvious detection and response thresholds, and they often rely on the speed, volume and ubiquity of digital technology that characterizes the present,” Lieutenant Colonel Allen said. “With an increased emphasis on creativity, ambiguity operating in this way seeks to amplify the cognitive elements of war, while dialing down the physical elements. This way of warfare is strategic; it is synchronized and systematic, and our response must be too.”

To respond, the British Army has launched the Integrated Operating Concept.18 First, it recognizes a distinction between “operating” and “warfighting.” In an era of persistent competition, unconventional as well as conventional deterrent postures must be more dynamically managed and modulated to compete below the threshold of war in order to deter war and prevent adversaries from achieving their objectives.

Second, competition involves a campaigning posture of continuous operation on friendly terms and places of choosing. This requires a mindset that thinks in several dimensions to escalate and de-escalate up and down multiple ladders. There will be a constant balancing of activity and resources between: protect, engage, constrain and the timing of when to fight.

Third, this posture must also be forward-deployed—much more in engagement rather than as stand-off capabilities solely for contingencies—with training and exercising being delivered as operations. This involves partner capacity and relationship building and engagement in countries that need support. It could also include partnered operations against common threats, particularly violent extremism. Ultimately, it may involve partnered combat operations. Civil-
military relations capabilities will have a key role in building understanding of contexts and situations to deal with ambiguity and ensure effective partnering with those with shared values and aspirations. “Big data analysis can help,” he noted, “but we also need deep understanding at the human level to build up thick data to build depth of understanding.” To that end, the Land Warfare Center is helping to form a global human engagement database.

Fourth, the posture must also place a premium on building alliances and improving interoperability to make things more “allied by design” and thus able to burden-share more productively. The role of civil-military interaction is essential to both building these links but most importantly in developing understanding of how adversaries can create and exploit fissures in society to build partner resilience and afford mutual protection.

“Finally,” he briefed, “we must be prepared to fight above our thresholds when required—to escalate, to de-escalate and to rapidly return to stability. Again, the need for engagement before, during and after the crisis of civil-military activities supported by the whole force is essential.”

An interesting presentation from the Government of Canada’s Influence Activities Task Force (IATF) closed out the session. It has concentrated much of its work on analysis of Canada’s remarkable work and DOTMLPF-P lessons integration in CIMIC-PSYOP operations, largely in Afghanistan, but also in support of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations. It assessed joint CIMIC-PSYOP effects delivery through a collection of “vast amounts of information” to understand both institutional and operational needs and to plan, coordinate, execute and measure the effectiveness of response activities. In addition to its own lessons, the IATF has collected information and inputs from aid organizations, international organizations, NGOs, local and foreign governments and militaries, media and affected populations to assess effects delivery. Social media analyses are also in consideration.

CIMIC activities, especially in support of humanitarian assistance operations, include: information campaigns, such as force-to-force engagement, “radio-in-a-box,” loudspeakers and SMS (short message service) information texts over mobile phones; civil needs assessments; “communicating with communities” programs; civil-military liaison with the above-mentioned organizations; key leader engagement driven by influence mapping; support to “white picture” intelligence; and support to public affairs, including media and message analysis. Emphasis is also made on “Phase 0” CIMIC activities, including monitoring related portals and apps, “horizon scanning” and open-source data collection. Some of the major lessons that the IATF has drawn so far for future successful CIMIC employment in influence activities are:

  • CIMIC-PSYOP employment will be modularized and needs-based;
  • these activities will be integrated to joint effects and the larger military operational planning process;
  • these activities will focus on identifying communication gaps and looking for ways to fill them; and
  • these activities will be cognizant and heavily informed of the strategic and operational situation before the deployment of troops, hence the emphasis on data collection through robust lessons integration and Phase 0 web research monitoring activities.

Panel IV: CA Industrial Base Development

One of the more important takeaways from last year’s Symposium and Roundtable is how the expanded CA Corps must build an industrial base in applied social sciences and related technologies to maintain currency and competitiveness. To this end, the last panel, led by Association Vice President Lieutenant Colonel Arnel David, was “An Innovative Partnership with Hollywood and Valka-Mir on the Human Domain Matrix VR Simulation, Training Cross-
Cultural Communications and Civil Engagement.” This year’s panelists included:

  • Dr. Aleks Nesic, Visiting Professor at Joint Special Operations University;
  • Brian “Mitch” Mitchell, Founder, CrisisCast;
  • Francesca Hunt, Founder, CrisisCast; and
  • Lieutenant Colonel Dave Allen, SO1 Stabilization, Warfare Branch, Land Warfare Center (U.K.).

This panel discussed their project with the British Army to build an innovative prototype to improve performance with human engagement. This work, in an area known as the “Human Domain Matrix (HDM),™” provides a futuristic computer-generated imagery (CGI) platform to help Soldiers to understand different cultural and emotional references better, before deploying overseas. The producers, motion-capture (mocap) and technical leads for films such as Lord of the Rings, Mad Max: Fury Road and the new Star Wars: The Mandalorian have come on board in support of the project, which is part of a larger effort on gaming, known as “U.K. Fight Club,” a special wargaming community that Lieutenant Colonel Allen started while posted there as an Army strategist over the past couple of years. Virtual reality headsets could provide realistic video-game style experiences, where troops could meet with, speak to and interact with civilians, military partners or community leaders from local indigenous environments. 

Lieutenant Colonel David warned that “a failure to understand local psycho-social dynamics has been our Achilles heel for far too long. This new capability will enable a rapid understanding of local contexts to help our frontline military, diplomatic and humanitarian personnel operating overseas. The ultimate aim is to achieve a capability that can effectively enable operators to proact, react and intervene within human networks’ emotional, cultural and physical spaces at a rate faster than any adversary.” 

Developing this prototype of the HDM simulation would be a first of its kind for training and education. Dr. Nesic summarized the project best by explaining “this is going beyond training the cognitive to introduce more emotionally-driven behavioral mechanics which are inherently complex to model and simulate. These simulations are intended to improve performance in human interaction and strategic competition.”

The panel concluded that the idea of an “industrial base” for CA is still very much in its infancy. That said, it deserves more institutional interest at service and joint levels. 

Civil Affairs Issue Papers 

The Symposium finale was the presentation of the five papers selected for AUSA publication. Authors competed for best paper presentation cash prizes of $1,000 (first); $500 (second); and $250 (third). The winners were, in order of award:

  1. “Changing the Business Model III: Renewing Civil Affairs’ Influence-Based Capabilities,” by Mr. Robert Schafer and Lieutenant Colonel Shafi Saiduddin;
  2. “A Gap in Thought and Deed: Civil-Military Relations and Civil-Military Operations,” by Master Sergeant Larry Lloyd;
  3. “Civil Affairs and Civil-Military Cooperation: A Hybrid Solution to Defeat Hybrid Threats,” by Major Csaba Szabó and Master Sergeant Robert Nicholson;
  4. “Civil Considerations in an Era of Great-Power Competition,” by Lieutenant Colonel Diana J. Parzik and Major Michael Schwille; and
  5. “Into the Gray Zone: Integration of Civil Affairs and Information Operations with Embassies,” by Captain Scott Haviland, Major David Cook and Major Don Newberry.

The papers are all published here. Previous volumes as well as summaries of the current papers, along with Symposium and Roundtable reports, are available on the Association website. Videos from the entire Symposium discussed above are viewable on the Civil Affairs Association Eunomia Journal YouTube channel.

Final Remarks

As the Symposium came to a close, (former) Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Stability and Humanitarian Affairs (A/DASD SHA) Stephanie L. Hammond offered some remarks. She focuses on the management and oversight of humanitarian assistance and foreign disaster relief programs and CA, as well as on many other areas, including DoD’s cultural heritage protection (CHP) and WPS implementation within special operations and low-intensity conflict (SOLIC). 

Her observations included:

  • CA plays an important and strategic role across the competition continuum abroad; at home, the COVID-19 global pandemic has brought more attention to the civil-military integration value of CA;
  • ASD(SOLIC) continues to advance CA within DoD and how it complements the National Defense Strategy, particularly the Irregular Warfare Annex, where “stabilizing a region or state with direct bearing on U.S. national interests” remains a wartime mission and stabilization remains one of three (along with offensive and defensive) operations as identified in JP 3-0, Joint Operations;
  • The Stabilization Assistance Review and DoDD 3000.05 continue to guide stabilization policy, emphasizing a small DoD footprint, and working by, with and through local, legitimate indigenous partners, for which CA is a force of choice;
  • DASD(SHA) appreciates all of the hard work that the CA community is doing on CHP efforts as it establishes the CHP network, works on the white paper and explores the best ways to gather data about CHP across DoD, for which CA again plays a critical role; and
  • DASD(SHA) applauds the panel discussion on WPS and welcomes further insights from the CA on efforts across DoD on the integration of WPS.

Association President Colonel Joe Kirlin, USA, Ret., closed out the three-day forum, noting the “importance of continuity” in the Association’s priorities to help educate, advocate and motivate. This comes through platforms such as the Symposium, Roundtable, Issue Papers, Eunomia Journal, OneCA Podcasts and others that help the CA Corps to advocate through engagement of key civil and military institutional leadership on such things as the need for a full Army accession branch for CA and a “strong CA advanced school or university that enables Army and Marines’ CA as well as our allied brothers and sisters to make more strategic impact.” The Association, he added, “will continue in its advocacy with the State and Defense Departments, USAID, NGOs, private businesses and international partners—and to motivate people and organizations to join us in this journey as a value-added leadership organization through its initiatives, programs and continued persistent engagement so that all of us can win in our missions, grow together and secure the victory of peace.” 

This, as retired Lieutenant General Hooper emphasized, will come mostly through CA’s unique capacity and potential to “strengthen alliances and attract new partners,” reinforced by the new administration’s Interim National Security Strategic Guidance that also draws in the United States Strategy to Prevent Conflict and Promote Stability: “When we strengthen our alliances, we amplify our power and our ability to disrupt threats before they can reach our shores.”19

To realize this, the extended CA Corps, in collaboration with its many partners, must focus its development on learning to be more of a force for influence and competition in convergent MDO/JADO. “In the 21st century,” a NATO Innovation Hub study observed, “strategic advantage will come from how to engage with people, understand them, and access political, economic, cultural and social networks to achieve a position of relative advantage that complements the sole military force. These interactions are not reducible to the physical boundaries of land, air, sea, cyber and space, which tend to focus on geography and terrain characteristics. They represent a network of networks that define power and interests in a connected world. The actor that best understands local contexts and builds a network around relationships that harness local capabilities is more likely to win.”20 

That sounds a lot like CA; but it sounds like even more than that. New national leadership is looking for creative options to cooperate and compete through greater emphasis on leading global engagement, primarily through diplomacy and development rather than conventional military responses. As a result, CA and other information-related capabilities will gain even greater relevance among JIM enterprises that help secure favorable access and influence for the United States and its allies and partners.

From the speakers, workshops, panel discussions and Issue Papers, the Association and its sponsors will enable the CA Corps and its partners to continue the process of digesting the Symposium’s findings to identify and prioritize actionable policy and institutional ways ahead at the Roundtable on 14 April.

For more information, and to stay updated, please visit the Civil Affairs Association website at: https://www.civilaffairsassoc.org.

★  ★  ★  ★

Colonel Christopher Holshek, USA, Ret., Vice President for Military Affairs in the Civil Affairs Association, co-organizes the annual Symposia and Roundtables and co-edits the Civil Affairs Issue Papers. A 2017 Distinguished Member of the Civil Affairs Corps, he is a Civil-Military Director at Narrative Strategies, LLC, as well as Senior Civil-Military Advisory at the NATO ResilientCivilians working group and the Alliance for Peacebuilding. His book, Travels with Harley: Journeys in Search of Personal and National Identity, reflects experiences and insights gained from three decades in CA at all levels and across the full competition continuum and in the JIM and multi-domain environments.

1  Civil Affairs Association website: https://www.civilaffairsassoc.org/.
2  Civil Affairs Issue Paper and Symposium and Roundtable Reports: https://www.civilaffairsassoc.org/ca-issue-papers-reports.
3  OneCA Podcasts: https://www.civilaffairsassoc.org/podcast.
4  Civil Affairs Association Eunomia Journal: https://www.civilaffairsassoc.org/about-eunomia.
5  Department of State, Department of Defense and U.S. Agency for International Development, A Framework for Maximizing the Effectiveness of U.S. Government Efforts to Stabilize Conflict-Affected Areas, 2018, https://www.state.gov/reports/stabilization-assistance-review-a-framework-for-maximizing-the-effectiveness-of-u-s-government-efforts-to-stabilize-conflict-affected-areas-2018/.
6  U.S Department of State Global Engagement Center: https://www.state.gov/bureaus-offices/under-secretary-for-public-diplomacy-and-public-affairs/global-engagement-center/.
7  Christopher Holshek, Expanding Multi-Domain Operations to Win Moral Competition, Association of the United States Army, 19 August 2020, https://www.ausa.org/publications/expanding-multi-domain-operations-win-moral-competition.
8  Holshek, Expanding Multi-Domain Operations.
9  Holshek, Expanding Multi-Domain Operations.
10  Department of the Army, Field Manual (FM) 3-57, Civil Affairs Operations (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, April 2019).
11  Joint Chiefs of Staff, Joint Publication (JP) 3-24, Counterinsurgency (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 25 April 2018), GL-5.
12  Department of State, U.S. Agency for International Development, Department of Defense and Department of Treasury, United States Strategy to Prevent Conflict and Promote Stability (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2020).
13  Department of Defense video, “U.S. strategy on women, peace, and security provides the Department of Defense long-term security,” 9 December 2020, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nV8B3byuVeE.
14  Department of Peace Operations, United Nations, United Nations Infantry Battalion Manual (New York: United Nations Department of Peace Operations and Department of Field Support, January 2020).
15  CIMIC Center of Excellence: https://www.cimic-coe.org.
16  British Army Land Warfare Center: https://military.wikia.org/wiki/Warminster_Garrison#Land_Warfare_Centre.
17  Canadian Army Influence Activities Task Force: army.forces.gc.ca/en/5-canadian-division/influence-activities-task-force/index.page.
18  U.K. Ministry of Defense, Introducing the Integrated Operating Concept (MoD Abbeywood South: Assets Publishing Services, 30 September 2020), https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/922969/20200930_-_Introducing_the_Integrated_Operating_Concept.pdf.
19  Joseph R. Biden, Jr., Interim National Security Strategic Guidance (Washington, DC: The White House, March 2021), 2. 
20  Francois du Cluzel, Cognitive Warfare (Norfolk, VA: Allied Command Transformation Innovation Hub forum study, November 2020), 28.