U.S. ARMY CIVIL AFFAIRS OFFICER'S CEREMONIAL BELT

The ceremonial belt, sometimes called a sabre belt, is authorized for wear by Civil Affairs officers with the Army Service Uniform. It is manufactured in the Civil Affairs branch colors of purple and white with gold braid.

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Many of the tasks involved in operations carried out by the Civil Affairs branch requires substantial expertise in governmental administration and interaction with nongovernmental organizations and agencies. This was doubtless one of the reasons that it was open only to Army Reserve members when it was established under the designation Civil Affairs/Military Government in 1955: Reservists spend a good deal of their time working in the civilian sector, with many of them developing the types of skills and expertise necessary for the success of civil-military operations.

But the need to expand Civil Affairs operations became abundantly clear following the conclusion of the initial military phase of Operation Iraqi Freedom, which in total lasted just six weeks. The Coalition’s bombing campaign had shattered the infrastructure in many of the larger cities in Iraq, and the dissolution of the Ba’athist government meant there was no central authority the population could turn to for assistance. It was obvious that the U.S. would bear the brunt of dealing with these issues while simultaneously attempting to defeat various insurgencies spawned by factions within Iraq hoping to seize power—all of which are specialties of the Civil Affairs branch.

In 2006, the Army realized that the missions in both Iraq and Afghanistan could be not successfully completed with additional civil-affairs capabilities, and two decisions were made. First, the reserve Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations units were transferred from U.S. Special Operations Command and then reassigned to the U.S. Army Reserve. Second, the Army reactivated the 95th Civil Affairs Group on a provisional basis to command the four battalion-sized Civil Affairs units in the active-duty army.

The 95th was redesignated a brigade in March, 2006, and a year later its provisional status was removed, making it the only active-duty Civil Affairs Brigade at the time. (Civil Affirs was officallly made a basic branch of the Army just two months earlier on January 12, 2007, retroactive to October 16 of the previous year.) Today, the 95th Civil Affairs Brigade comprises over 1,200 soldiers and five battalions and falls under the control of the United States Special Operations Command.

But more than one brigade was needed in the expanding Global War on Terror, and in June, 2009 the 362nd Civil Affairs Brigade was redesignated the 90th Civil Affairs Brigade in the Regular Army. Three months later, it was redesignated as the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 85th Civil Air Brigade and was activated on September 16, 2011 at Ford Hood Texas. On that same day, the brigade’s first battalion, the 81st Civil Affairs, was stood up.

At the time, the plan was for the 85th to consist of five battalions, with each one created to operate in a geographic area controlled by a Unified Command; the 81st, for instance, was oriented to serve under Southern Command. The 83rd Battalion, stood up in 2012, was designed to operate under Central Command, and the 82nd Civil Affairs Battalion was oriented to AFRICOM; it deployed to Liberia in 2014 to aid in suppressing the spread of Ebola.

In the spring of 2016, the Army announced that the 85th Civil Affairs Brigade was being deactivated, leaving the 95th as the only active-duty Civil Affairs Brigade in the Army.
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