Civil Affairs and Civil-Military Cooperation: A Hybrid Solution to Defeat Hybrid Threats

Civil Affairs and Civil-Military Cooperation: A Hybrid Solution to Defeat Hybrid Threats

March 30, 2021


United States Army civil affairs (CA) and NATO civil-military cooperation (CIMIC) forces are key to countering or minimizing threats that hybrid warfare imposes, especially within the battle of influence to control the narrative. Among the issues hindering this contribution is the disparity between CA and CIMIC doctrines. Deployed and deployable U.S. troop formations, including CA, have a deficit of knowledge about the NATO Civil-Military Interaction (CMI) concept, CIMIC mandates to implement CMI, capabilities, and modus operandi in European NATO nations. Conversely, CIMIC staffs within NATO Force Structure and Command Structure also have a deficit of knowledge about U.S. CA policy, mandates, capabilities and modus operandi. The knowledge gap creates misunderstandings and stokes misconceptions between these two communities, hindering NATO unified action. There is a significant doctrinal and conceptual gap (i.e., mutual non-recognition) between CIMIC and CA. Discussion of their relevance to each other is not at all reflected within their highest doctrinal references, despite the overlaps in missions, capabilities and practical approaches—and their exceptional importance as forces of influence in great-power competition.

A synchronization project proposed by the NATO CIMIC Center of Excellence (CCoE) would serve as a way to improve collaboration between CA and CIMIC by developing a shared understanding of doctrine, tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs) to better contribute to the NATO Deterrence and Defense of the Euro-Atlantic Area concept. CA and CIMIC are required to perform this synchronization (or at least strive for it) when CA personnel arrive in the NATO area of responsibility (AoR). By that point, however, they have already lost precious time. During pre-mission training and mission preparation, in addition to just getting to know each other, CA and CIMIC should be sharing reports, contacts, standard operating procedures (SOPs), and mission and area analyses for the benefit of a collective wider perspective. It takes time to establish and build relationships and learn how best to collaborate, placing these forces at a considerable disadvantage when competing for influence. Having a common knowledge base of respective CA and CIMIC capabilities is paramount to strengthening NATO, improving the abilities to deter especially hybrid threat threats, achieve mission success and minimize duplication of efforts. Relationships and networks being critical, if not decisive, strategic and operational capital in competition, greater institutional and operational CA and CIMIC synchronization makes more sense than ever. 


In order to bring in perspectives from both sides of the Atlantic, a seasoned Hungarian Army CIMIC officer, currently serving at the NATO CCoE and a senior CA NCO from the 21st Theater Sustainment Command Assistant Chief of Staff (ACOS), G9, have authored this paper. 

The initiator of the project is the NATO CCoE in The Hague, the Netherlands. The CCoE provides CIMIC with subject matter expertise to support both the transformational process and operational requests of NATO as its main objectives. As a NATO-accredited CoE, it supports its seven sponsoring nations,1 plus numerous contributing partners, NATO allies and customers, as directed by the CCoE coordinating committee. The CCoE establishes and sustains relationships and networks with civilian and military organizations to establish lines of consultation and cooperation. Meanwhile, it is nested in a wide-ranging comprehensive network that helps it to further develop and improve overall NATO CIMIC capability. It is also the custodian for NATO CIMIC doctrine and the department head for the training and education of NATO CIMIC. Given these roles, the CCoE places interoperability between CA and CIMIC high on its priority list. It has realized that CA and CIMIC collaboration is a vital component of long-term success in identifying and deterring malign influence and hybrid threats to NATO; it plans to ensure alignment of CA and CIMIC, capitalizing on existing synergies within them, led by the coauthor as the CCoE project officer.

The project officer is supported by a Soldier who serves at the 21st Theater Sustainment Command (TSC), a U.S. two-star logistics command based in Kaiserslautern, Germany. As the only division-level U.S. Army headquarters there, its several down-trace units include the 7th Mission Support Command (MSC). A U.S. Army Reserve one-star command, the 7th MSC has the 361st CA Brigade, with one CA battalion—the 457th. This forward-stationed CA capability exists outside of the U.S. Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command (Airborne), or USACAPOC(A), and is made up of CA officers and NCOs who live and work in multiple countries within Europe and elsewhere outside the continental U.S. (CONUS). One of the main missions for the 21st TSC is to “set the theater” to bring over CONUS-based units in support of exercises and operations in order to deter aggression against NATO. The 21st TSC G9 has been active across the U.S. European Command AoR in building and maintaining relationships with NATO allies and partners. CA teams (CATs) in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve, for instance, are utilized by the 21st TSC to achieve objectives by working closely with the host-nation CIMIC. This relationship has been extremely effective in building capacity and in demonstrating how CA and CIMIC can work in greater unison to achieve mission success.

CA and CIMIC have been working together; but, as with any relationship where cultures and norms are different or not fully understood, stereotypes and misinformation exist. Fortunately, there is a long history of cooperation between U.S. and NATO civil-military activities, not only in Europe, but also in Iraq, Afghanistan, the African continent and elsewhere. This shared history forms the basis of a better common understanding.

Rationale of the Synchronization Project

In principle, NATO policy and doctrine serve as foundational references for allied interoperability within NATO. However, the military strength of nations within NATO is not equal. For example, the United States provides approximately 70 percent of NATO force capacities and capabilities. This means that U.S. forces in Europe would be the decisive combat power in defense against direct attack under Article 5. The geographic distance from Europe and competing U.S. commitments to non-NATO regional security interests, however, also results in less U.S. concern about aligning its national military policy and doctrine to that of NATO. This phenomenon occurs with other NATO Allies as well, but to a far lesser extent, as NATO doctrines are usually foundational for many of their own—including and especially CIMIC. This is particularly true for some newer NATO members, former Warsaw Pact countries that have rebuilt their military forces for conventional threats and are now facing hybrid warfare.

Because of this, the interoperability of U.S. forces with other allies matters, whether that means communications capabilities, fitting Lithuanian fuel nozzles onto an M1 Abrams tank, and anything in between, such as understanding the differences and similarities between U.S. and NATO doctrine. When it comes to CA and CIMIC, doctrinal differences are significant, even though their civil considerations are practically the same.

While NATO doctrine comes secondary to the doctrines of individual allied nation’s militaries, most do directly cite NATO CIMIC doctrine. U.S. CA is the one outlier. That said, CA and CIMIC are very similar in some ways, including that they provide commanders a better understanding of the civil component of the operational environment, allowing commanders to address civil factors that enable achievement of military objectives. Supporting this impetus, last year’s Civil Affairs Issue Papers advised: “Fostering a learning organization both within and beyond military command structures and the CA Corps, including allies and counterpart civil-military organizations and JIM [joint, interorganizational and multinational] partners, must be a major CA force development goal.”2

Historical and Strategic Framing

As a reminder, Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, as the cornerstone of NATO, states that an attack on one member of NATO is an attack on all its members. NATO has only invoked Article 5 once in its history—in response to the terrorist attacks of 9/11, to support the United States in defending its airspace. Between 1990 and 2014, NATO was focused mainly on non-Article 5 crisis response operations. At the same time, the civil defense capabilities of European NATO nations significantly deteriorated, military forces were restructured, funding was reallocated, defense plans lost validity and larger field exercises stopped taking place. Meanwhile, mission experience demonstrated the significant differences between CA and CIMIC lines of effort (LoEs), even while they were operating under the same command structures. A significant commonality was how both operated in failing or failed states outside of the NATO area, with non-existent or non-functional governments.

Since 2014, developments in the Euro-Atlantic security environment, especially the Russian annexation of Crimea that year, caused a sharp focus shift back to deterrence and defense. This included reexamining defense funding by European nations and increased deployments of U.S. forces on European territory. Newly-drafted Deterrence and Defense Plans have included measures like NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) in the Baltics and reinitiating large-scale field exercises, which means that U.S. forces—including CA—are interacting and cooperating again with European NATO countries with greater regularity, as during the Cold War. However, these partner countries are not failed or fragile states. U.S. forces have had to face some growing pains relearning this “new-old norm.” The U.S. military, along with many allies and partners, has frequently served in conflict-torn regions, where it has easily dominated the battlespace. This is not the case now, as current allied military forces are operating in realms where they have functional authority and capability; U.S. planners have had to relearn, for example, how to obtain host-nation authorizations for movements under stringent Status of Forces Agreements rather than operating with relative independence. 

These are constraints that European-based CA especially understands. Other than building relationships that can be quickly leveraged in crisis and competition, this kind of inside knowledge is among the many values-added of in-theater CA forces. Many attendees at the 2020 Civil Affairs Roundtable thought that U.S. Army Europe (USAREUR) should reconsider its recent decision to disband the 361st CA Brigade—an Army Reserve CA command with longstanding experience and solid working relations with NATO CIMIC forces that also forms a sizeable portion of NATO’s ready civil-military capability in-theater.3

CIMIC forces, of course, understand this as well; they operate almost entirely under NATO direction, even out-of-area. Like CA, they have limited authority to operate within their own home borders. Instead, civilian government organizations work with the civilian population while military has limited or non-existent authorities to operate in their own national territories, as in the United States. Under this paradigm, the military can assist only in support of specifically military exercises. Some of this is changing closer to the frontline with CA and CIMIC collaboration through joint public information operations, in coordination with civilian governments; similarly, this was done during the Cold War to inform the population of exercise impacts and to assist with messaging in support of NATO interests and objectives.

Hybrid Threats and Hybrid Warfare

Starting in 2014, NATO has had to redirect focus on countering hybrid warfare in its own AoR rather than “out-of-area.” Hybrid warfare, although not new, works below the threshold of conventional war.4 It is complex, and adaptive to culture, historical legacies, geography and available political, economic, informational and military means.5 There is increasing evidence that “hybrid warriors” are waging war via the internet against civil society in the Western world, sowing societal divisions and promoting hyper-polarized politics.6 The major lesson of warfare from the past two decades is that hybrid warfare focuses on population centers.7 Its center of gravity are target civil societies. Ideal in countering this, CA and CIMIC are two very similar capabilities that operate within human domain, where they must assess and engage the same members of civil societies and establish robust and complex liaison networks. It is paramount, then, that CA and CIMIC synchronize operations so as not to risk what could be called “engagement fratricide.”

By 2020, NATO’s understanding of hybrid warfare became much richer. While these threats continue to evolve (for example, becoming more interconnected with illicit threats such as international criminal networks and working in gray areas within and between national societies), so too must NATO political-military, civil-military and information and influence capabilities. On a human level, CA and CIMIC enable improved navigation through the “fog of hybrid warfare” in efforts across the globe. As unique influence capabilities operating within these spaces, CA and CIMIC could help the alliance more effectively counter these near-existential challenges through more collaborative operations and employed narratives.

There exists an opportunity to create momentum through a robust synchronization at conceptual (policy and doctrine), training and education and academic levels. This institutional impetus should stimulate—or at least enable—the parallel synchronization of comparative CA-CIMIC advantages, building networked human capital and interorganizational learning and then sharing information to facilitate friendly dominance in influence. NATO can little afford to waste further resources; this could help tip the scales back in its favor.

The CCoE Takes the Initiative

The CCoE has taken a mostly bottom-up approach in its U.S. CA and NATO CIMIC synchronization project; top-down procedures result in a long and arduous process. Given the realities of the emerging security environment and its impact on civil-military enterprises, the CCoE established a framework for CA and CIMIC capabilities to explore cooperation. In 2018, the CCoE Concepts, Interoperability and Capability (CIC) Branch initiated the CIMIC and CA synchronization project, which focuses on respective CA-CIMIC cross-familiarization to identify the similarities within the capabilities and exploit existing professional crosswalks in order to enhance interoperability and civil-military mission effectiveness on the ground. Within the project frame, the CCoE has utilized a threefold approach to the conceptual, educational and academic LoEs assigned and pursued since then.

In the past, the lack of official institutional champions has impeded such a synchronization project at the strategic level on both sides of the Atlantic (specifically, at NATO/SHAPE J9 and the Civil Affairs Proponent at the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School, or USAJFKSWCS). The CCoE performance statement utilizes the NATO CIMIC familiarization course (NCFC) for identified NATO internal (e.g., U.S. CA) and external (partner nation) stakeholders, which in turn would lead to the development of a NATO requirement for synchronization. As a result of this request, the synchronization project would officially fall under the purview of the NATO Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) J9 CIMIC Baseline Activities and Current Operations, nested in the synchronized approach with strategic partners in terms of interoperability. This would provide a champion on the NATO side. The hope is that this would prompt reciprocal movement at USAJFKSWCS to complement the CCoE’s efforts in, for example, a CIMIC familiarization course for CA.

CA-CIMIC Collaborative Experience

In recent decades, CIMIC has worked with CA on several NATO operations where civil-military activities overlapped, despite their differences in operational approaches or deployments schemes. These operations included time in Bosnia and Herzegovina (NATO Implementation and Stabilization Forces), Kosovo, Iraq (NATO Training Mission in Iraq) and Afghanistan.

A recent example of uncoordinated civil-military activities can be found in the ISAF Hungarian Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Baghlan Province, Afghanistan. Among many issues, activities from this team resulted in a wasteful and counterproductive duplication of civil-military efforts. In the Hungarian PRT, a U.S. CA team (CAT) was under tactical control of the S-9 (CIMIC and PSYOPS, i.e., psychological operations). The CAT was actively involved in the S-9 CIMIC daily line of work and took part in planning and operations. The S-9 had knowledge of and effected some coordination of CA and CIMIC LoEs elements in Baghlan, which, from an interoperability perspective, was considered very progressive. 

However, the CAT possessed a separate and independent operations budget, with no requirement to coordinate its activities with CIMIC partners. Compared with the rest of the PRT, this resource asymmetry proved problematic. Development of targeted civil-military projects in Baghlan was at first not at all coordinated, and only PRT-embedded CAT activities were eventually coordinated with PRT main LOEs, while those of other U.S. CA forces usually were not until after project implementation. This created issues in managing the perceptions and attitudes of the local population, resulting in overall operational effects that confused rather than positively influenced the same communities they worked in—i.e., “engagement fratricide.”

With the emerging hybrid threats in the Euro-Atlantic Area from Russia and their impact especially on eastern flank NATO Allies, NATO deployed battalion-sized eFP battle groups—with troop formations from Germany to Lithuania, from Canada to Latvia and from Great Britain to Estonia—to instill confidence among these frontier states as well as deter further Russian aggression. The United States also increased troop presence across Eastern European countries, from Poland to Bulgaria. In several locations, CATs operate mainly around areas where U.S. forces are based, transiting or exercising in order to mitigate issues that arise from military operations and so ensure minimal impacts on both the local population and on military requirements. In most of these countries, CA is operating by, with and through host-nation CIMIC counterparts. This is the flashpoint for the necessity of training for each element, so that shared understanding can assist in pursuing common goals and achieving unified action.

These CATs have been actively establishing their civil-military networks; in most of the cases, their first point of entry has been respective national CIMIC units. CA support of exercises and military activities has stretched the scope of NATO military authorities in several countries, as host nations realize how CIMIC is important in presenting a positive image of their own military forces. CATs are active in exercise support as well as in training and education activities that are conducted with CIMIC units and in conjunction with the U.S. embassies within the countries. The USAREUR summer of 2019 series of exercises involving CA served as an example of how these exercises could serve as a solid baseline for deeper CA-CIMIC interaction in Europe than what previously occurred in NATO missions outside of Europe. While the initiative and its existing level of cooperation are promising, U.S.-NATO civil-military forces collaboration is not formally institutionalized; CA-CIMIC interoperability is not exploited to the level that it should be. Huge institutional and operational cooperation and coordination gaps still need bridging.

How Do We Get There from Here?

U.S. CA is by far the largest civil-military cooperation capability in NATO. CA deploys globally to support a wide array of missions. An important part of those missions is within the European AoR, where CA is a vital contributor and an unavoidable actor when it comes to civil-military operations. These missions provide the opportunity for CA units to cooperate and collaborate with CIMIC operators mostly on a tactical level, but not exclusively. CA within U.S. Army doctrine structure is referred to as “the capability which operates within the human domain.” NATO CIMIC also claims to cover this domain. Some national CIMIC doctrines have even tried to look at adding CA doctrinal constructs within their CIMIC framework. Wording may differ between the doctrines, but many concepts are similar enough to require only a “translation” to enable greater interoperability. 

If deploying CA forces can better understand what CIMIC is, and how they pursue similar objectives, this will go far to prevent duplicative, disjointed, and counterproductive efforts. By more conscientiously leveraging and synergizing their respective comparative advantages, they will produce more operationally and strategically impactful outcomes. CA, with its extensive institutional training capacities and vast deployment experience, can share best practices and assist in building partner CIMIC capacities, given uneven training and deployment experience among allied civil-military forces. The cross-pollination of institutional and operational capacities in both directions would be significantly mutually beneficial. 

Synchronization of Lines of Effort

Concept Development. NATO’s Joint Doctrine for Civil-Military Cooperation, AJP-3.19 (Edition A, Version 1. Nov 2018) does not at all mention CA.8 Neither does U.S. Army Field Manual 3-57, Civil Affairs Operations mention NATO CIMIC as a related capability or function.9 Cross-referencing of the two capabilities does however exist in the tactical-level CCoE CIMIC Handbook; an entire chapter is dedicated to a discussion of CA.10

Training and Education. From 2016 to 2019, the CCoE CIC branch delegated a CIMIC subject matter expert (SME) and supported ten iterations of Operation Sluss-Tiller—the CA culmination exercise at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. The CIC staff member was involved as an enhancement coach and observer, and moreover was the first international instructor to ever assist within the CA Qualification Course. The NATO CIMIC training package developed by the CCoE Training and Education (T&E) and CIC branches were shared with USMC CA representatives in Iraq during the 2018 Mosul Storm operation to facilitate Iraqi Force CIMIC capacity building. The T&E branch conducted remote indirect support without overseeing the process. From 15–17 November 2019—based on the lessons identified, learned, collected and assessed by the CCoE Lessons Learned and Analysis branch and the official request from the 457th CA Battalion (U.S. Army Reserve)—a CCoE mobile training team conducted a pilot NATO CIMIC familiarization course (NCFC) in Grafenwöhr, Germany, for U.S. CA officers and NCOs. Its success sparked a demand for further refinement. 

Academics. Another priority is having cooperative relationships with civil and military institutions for institutional capitalization, including professional associations, CCoE CIC members have previously provided lectures about NATO CIMIC and taken part as panelists during Civil Affairs Association events, providing a special NATO/European perspective for the primarily U.S. CA stakeholders. On 7 April 2020, for the first time, the CCoE presented the CCoE and CIMIC-CA Synchronization Project at the virtual Association Roundtable. The CCoE Director presented the CCoE, its main objectives and its LoEs. He also discussed how interoperability and mission effectiveness benefit from an enhanced level of academic cooperation among major CA and CIMIC institutions and associated organizations. 

The Way Ahead

The CCoE strives for efficient and effective enhanced cooperation platforms. Next to the permanent exchange of subject matter expertise, mutual and continual participation in CA and CIMIC key events could contribute to promoting the synchronization project. For 2021, the NATO CIMIC Key Leader Conference (NCKLC) and Community of Interest Workshop (COIWS), planned to be held in Budapest, are the main venues for enhanced cooperation. Along with prospective key leader engagements at the NCKLC, a dedicated stand-alone syndicate is planned regarding U.S. CA NATO CIMIC synchronization. 

Furthermore, two iterations of the enhanced NCFC are planned for execution in the United States in 2021. This will hopefully contribute to paving the path for increased levels of cooperation and collaboration. This continued execution and refinement of the course could institutionalize it as a standardized and accredited NCFC. Also, in 2021, the CCoE CIC branch plans to initiate a new edition of an academic book dedicated to the interoperability topic; it will include a robust discussion of CA-CIMIC synchronization.

DOTMLPF-P Recommendations

Implementation of a robust synchronized civil-military capability would require several changes across doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leadership and education, personnel, facilities and policy (DOTMLPF-P) spectrums. The areas most affected would be doctrine, organization and training; how do they need to change in both CIMIC and CA?

Doctrine. The two governing doctrines for CIMIC and CA do not cross-reference each another. Without synchronization on this level within the NATO structure, capabilities cannot be fully exercised. Rather, in pursuing different LOEs, their outcomes are at best discordant and at worst cancel each other out. The recommendation is therefore for existing doctrines to be aligned. Mutual doctrinal recognition at a minimum is paramount; the upcoming 2021 NCKLC and COIWS could be the platform to start the process. This is key to success going forward.

Organization. Together, the CCoE and the Civil Affairs Association are in a unique position to be main drivers behind synchronization; as facilitating partners, they are the logical choice to coordinate workshops, finance intellectual capitalization projects and develop relevant courses. The logical U.S. military institutional partner would be the CA proponent at USAJFKSWCS. Appropriate alignment of these entities could power the synchronization effort, eventually leading to enhanced interoperability. The U.S., however, is currently not among the CCoE sponsoring nations, and there is no U.S. representation within the CCoE staff. The CA Corps needs to address this.

Training. U.S. CA has been, and continues to be, the biggest partner and contributor to the CCoE when it comes to providing instructors (as well as students) either for courses in-house or at satellite course iterations. The unfettered continuation of instructor and student exchange would contribute to institutional and even operational synchronization, but incoherently and at an unnecessarily lower return on investment. Existing CCoE courses, the CA Qualification course at Fort Bragg and the USMC CMO course could all be co-leveraged more conscientiously. Curriculum sharing needs to be discussed, determined and programmed, as does the sharing of best practices such as analysis and assessment procedures, TTPs, engagement with civilian actors, etc.

Without commonly accessible training and education solutions to utilize and build on the synchronized doctrine background, the existing gap between the two civil-military enterprises cannot be bridged. Coordinated and synchronized training and education solutions could contribute to a better understanding of respective capabilities and comparative advantages from the very beginning—before a deployment begins. And, once in the area of operations, CA and CIMIC units could execute their civil-military activities more cohesively to stay ahead of adversaries.

As mentioned, several iterations of the NCFC are planned for execution in the United States in 2021. Based on lessons learned and recommended adjustments, a standardized and NATO-accredited NCFC or NATO CIMIC awareness course should be built into the curriculum. Development of a familiarization course should assist CIMIC professionals with the same understanding of CA. Understanding current doctrine and working to combine elements is what will build the foundation for better overall mission success. The planned CCoE CA-CIMIC courses for 2021 form a promising start, but more is needed.

Leadership. The CCoE director is engaging with key leaders of CA institutions in order to reenergize instructor exchanges such as the addition of a CA officer and a senior NCO to the full-time staff at the CCoE. This process could provide regular institutional dialogue, resulting in a more cohesive operational partnering.

Policy. Having official champions of a synchronization project on a strategic level is imperative. Without the NATO/SHAPE ACOS J9—which is the requirement authority in the field of NATO CIMIC—and the CA proponent and T&E elements at USAJFKSWCS and Special Operations Center of Excellence, this project cannot gain needed traction. The CCoE CIC branch bottom-up approach has been successful enough to prompt considerable CA interest at unit levels, but not yet enough for institutional buy-in.


Having a robustly synchronized civil-military enterprise for NATO that contains interoperable elements from CIMIC and CA at institutional levels will produce more adaptable and effective civil-military capabilities for battles for influence in hybrid warfare, adaptable to every type of operation that NATO might face in the future. These collaborative capabilities would enable great success for NATO in its competition with adversaries and in its crisis response operation to be far more able to see, understand, engage and influence the main center of gravity of competition between the alliance and its adversaries, as well as for crisis response operations. Especially in engaging non-military actors in a more coordinated manner, better adjusted to host-nation constraints and situational demands, NATO-U.S. collaboration of civil-military activities on the ground would also help to enhance host-nation government responses and civilian resilience and preparedness in the face of hybrid and other threats. In these battles for influence, this would help provide consolidated and harmonized narratives in support of overall Alliance strategic communication activities as well as host-nation needs. 

In the end, these synchronized assets should be able to provide an established, credible, standardized civil-military capability, instilling confidence and stability among friends with increased coherence and effectiveness—not only during NATO exercises, but during operational deployments as well. This is the right moment to pursue interoperability, to exploit synergies and to make these two vital transatlantic civil-military and information-related capabilities more relevant, visible and impactful. A hybrid solution to answer hybrid threats presents challenges in development, but, more than the rich legacy of interoperability that helped the NATO alliance to win the Cold War, it can revive NATO’s generationally-forged community of democratic values. 


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Major Csaba Szabó, as the Hungarian Army Senior National Representative at the Civil-Military Cooperation Center of Excellence (CCoE), is the CCoE Concept Interoperability and Capability Branch Deputy Branch Chief.

Master Sergeant Robert Nicholson, a Civil Affairs NCO, is the 21st Theater Sustainment Command, Assistant Chief of Staff, G9 NCO in Charge.

The authors thank the CCoE, the 21st Theater Sustainment Command and the Civil Affairs Association for the opportunity to publish this paper.

Sponsoring nations in NATO’s CCoE in 2020 are Denmark, Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands, Latvia, Poland and Slovenia. In 2021, Italy is becoming a sponsoring nation, while Denmark and Slovenia are ceasing sponsorship.

Colonel Christopher Holshek, USA, Ret., Integrating Civil Affairs: Civil Affairs Issue Papers, Vol. 6, 2019–2020 (Arlington, VA: AUSA, April 2020), 6.

Colonel Christopher Holshek, USA, Ret., 2020 Civil Affairs Roundtable Report, Civil Affairs Association, 2 May 2020,

Lieutenant Colonel Sandor Fabian, USA, Ret., “The Russian hybrid warfare strategy—neither Russian nor strategy,” Taylor & Francis Defense Security Analysis, 9 August 2019.

General Philip Breedlove et al., “NATO’s Response to Hybrid Threats” NATO Defense College, Forum Paper 24, December 2015, 3–5.

Buddhika Jayamaha and Franky Matisek, “Hybrid war: attacking the ‘civil’ in civil society,” The War Room, 13 April 2018.

Dr. Gunhild Hoogensen Gjørv, “Hybrid Warfare and the Role Civilians Play,” E-International Relations, 2 August 2018. 

NATO Allied Joint Publication 3.19, Joint Doctrine for Civil-Military Cooperation, ed. A, ver. 1. (NATO Standardization Office, 9 November 2018),

Department of the Army, Field Manual 3-57, Civil Affairs Operations (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, April 2019).

10  Civil-Military Cooperation Center of Excellence, CIMIC Handbook, April 2019