Members from Maritime Civil Affairs Group (MCAG) participated in the 57th Civil Affairs Association annual conference held in Portsmouth, Va., Nov. 6-8, marking the group's inaugural participation in such an event.
MCAG serves as the Navy's experts in planning and conducting civil–military operations, focusing on maritime disciplines and the near-shore operational environment in support of the nation's maritime strategy. These forces are designed to complement and expand current civil affairs capability in the Army and Marine Corps and fill a warfighting gap for the Navy.
The conference brought together civil affairs leaders to address current challenges and the future of civil affairs. Topics of the conference included challenges experienced in the field, civil affairs implications for interagency stability operations, demands on the force providers and joint collaboration.
Vice Adm. Robert S. Harward, U.S. Joint Forces Command deputy commander, who served as the conference's keynote speaker, said civil affairs in an ongoing responsibility.
"We know that in our operations, we must keep the people in mind -- both in peace and war -- and continue to provide civil affairs capabilities to help military commanders work with civil authorities and civilian populations," Harward said.
Civil affairs forces conduct operations supporting the national security strategy through the integration of Department of Defense and non-DoD initiatives across all instruments of national power: diplomatic (political), informational (social), military and economic. Military activities planned, supported, executed or transitioned by civil affairs forces mitigate or defeat threats to civil society and assist in establishing the capacity for deterring or defeating future civil threats in support of U.S. objectives.
Conference speakers from the Army and Marine Corps were on hand to meet with personnel from the newly-formed MCAG. The groups were able to share their experiences in current missions and to discuss the future of civil affairs.
According to Capt. Claudia Risner, MCAG's commanding officer, the group has rapidly developed a new capability to engage the civil environment in the maritime operational environment, and participation of MCAG in the Civil Affairs Association conference helped to solidify MCAG's presence in the community.
"Being the new kid on the block, I think this conference provided an outstanding opportunity for us to discuss our experiences with our seasoned Army and Marine Corps counterparts," she said. "Our Maritime civil affairs teams have supported Pacific Partnership, Africa Partnership Station and Continuing Promise deployments as well as [Operation Enduring Freedom] operations. There is value in sharing best practices and strategies for the future."
MCAG forces are part of the Navy Expeditionary Combat Command and are currently supporting missions in several theaters throughout a range of military operations.
(Source: Navy News Service)