The U.S. Navy has assembled 320
sailors to form the first of two Civil Affairs units. For decades, the U.S.
Army provided all the Civil Affairs units, which are used to deal with
civilians encountered in a combat zone. The army has about 6,000 Civil Affairs
troops, most of them reservists, and all of them heavily used in Iraq and
Afghanistan since 2001.
These have been augmented by thousands of
specialists from other U.S. government agencies to form Provincial
Reconstruction teams. The U.S. Marine Corps has also organized some Civil
Affairs units, but these are temporary. The two navy Civil Affairs squadrons
will be permanent. One will be stationed on the east coast of the United
States, and train to deal with assignments in Europe and Africa. The other
squadron will be on the west coast, and will specialize in Asian assignments.
All this is part of the change in the Navy's perception of its mission, which
is to include supporting the land fight wherever and whenever. The new Civil
Affairs units will provide officers and NCOs who can help supervise disaster
relief efforts often carried out by navy battle groups.