Advise, Support, Stabilize - 95th Civil Affairs Brigade gun-toting diplomats
October 26, 2009
SINCE its formation in 2006, the 95th Civil Affairs Brigade has hit the ground running. From the Philippines to Africa to Afghanistan, the Army's only active-duty civil affairs brigade has made itself indispensible to special operations forces attempting to build rapport with locals. The brigade's Soldiers take great pride serving as "ambassadors" to some of the world's most remote and desperate regions, as well as providing valuable support to special operations teams. The job of the civil affairs Soldier has taken on new meaning in recent years.
Highly trained in all manner of local analysis, support and negotiations, the Soldiers of the 95th operate side-by-side with Special Forces ODAs (Operational Detachment Alpha). That partnership requires 95th Soldiers to receive advanced training in weapons, communications and operating vehicles in rough terrain.
That training and mindset paid off when one three-man CA team operating with an ODA in Afghanistan was ambushed by more than 300 Taliban fighters. Originally in the remote village to set up a medical clinic, the CA Soldiers reacted immediately and rushed into the fight where they proved crucial to blunting the enemy attack. That multi-skilled ability ensures that Soldiers of the 95th can transition effectively from rebuilder to warrior and back again.
The 95th was born from a lineage dating to the post-World War II occupation of Japan, where it helped to establish critical government functions in the war-weary country. As war raged down the Korean peninsula, the 95th rolled up its sleeves again and helped provide some order amid the chaos.
In early 2007, at the same time the Army established the Civil Affairs Military Occupational Specialty and Civil Affairs Branch, the 95th Civil Affairs Brigade took command of the newly activated 96th and 97th Civil Affairs Battalions. A year later the 98th Civil Affairs battalion was formed.
From a little more than 400 personnel just a few years ago, the brigade now consists of four battalions, each with about 200 Soldiers, and there are already tentative plans to activate a fifth battalion. The most recent, the 91st Civil Affairs Battalion, added just this year, clearly illustrates that need. Even before the 91st had officially become an active unit, its Soldiers had already been operating in seven countries around the world.
Having demonstrated in a very short period the considerable contributions its Soldiers can make, the 95th Civil Affairs Brigade is now running hard to meet demands. America's military strategy will continue to rely heavily on civil affairs skills. With a crucial role in counterinsurgency and stability campaigns, such as in Afghanistan, it is an exciting time to be a civil affairs Soldier.