The Civil Affairs branch colors of Purple (cable number 65009) and White (65005) were approved in June, 1956, ten months after the branch was established. In heraldry, purple is the color of royalty, but it is also associated with sovereignty and justice, two critical components of a civil government.
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With the establishment of the Civil Affairs/Military government branch on August 17, 1955, the United States Army created an administrative and organizational structure to oversee military operations that necessarily involve civilian governments and populations. The very nature of warfare inherently creates the necessity of interaction between military forces and civilian authorities, both in the public and private sector. And the establishment of a branch dedicated to this area of operations indicated the Army’s realization that Civil Affairs would play a vital role in the types of warfare in which it likely would be engaged in second half of the Twentieth Century and beyond.

Civil Affairs Command Insignia
There are a variety of definitions used for “Civil Affairs” in the United States Military, but a clearer picture of what it encompasses can be gained by looking at the goals and characteristics of Civil Affairs Operations (CAO). On the Web site for the 85th Civil Affairs Brigade, one of the Army’s two active-duty Civil Affairs Brigades, we read that the goal of CAO is to “Enhance the relationship between military and civil authorities in localities where military forces are present,” and that this “Require[s] coordination with other interagency organizations, IGO, NGOs institutions, and the private sector” and “involve[s] application of functional specialty skills that normally are the responsibility of civil government to enhance the conduct of civil-military operations.”

The mission of Civil Affairs units is described in a 2012 article, “U.S. Army Civil Affairs Soldiers graduate qualification training,” published on the Army’s official Web site: “Help military commanders by working with civil authorities and civilian populations in the commander's area of operations to lessen the impact of military operations on them during peace, contingency operations and declared war.”

Originally established only for Army Reservists not on active duty, the Civil Affairs/Military Government was redesignated as simply the Civil Affairs Branch in October, 1959, but was still open only to non-active duty Reservists. On January 12, 2007, Secretary of the Army Francis J. Harvey issued Army General Orders No. 29 established Civil Affairs as a basic branch of the Army retroactive to October 16, 2006.

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