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Civil-military co-operation (CIMIC) is the military function through which a commander links to civilian agencies active in a theatre of operations.
The United States Army has, since the Second World War, maintained Civil Affairs units. Part of their function includes CIMIC tasks, however, they have a much broader function and different focus than most CIMIC organizations. In the mid-1990s, primarily in response to lessons learned in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo, NATO members began developing CIMIC doctrine.
The key document explaining NATO CIMIC doctrine is Allied Joint Publication 9. It outlines the three core functions of CIMIC, those being:
- Support to the Force. Any activity designed to create support for the military force from within the indigenous population.
- Civil-Military Liaison. Coordination and joint planning with civilian agencies in support of the mission.
- Support to the Civil Environment. The provision of any of a variety of forms of assistance (expertise, information, security, infrastructure, capacity-building, etc.) to the local population in support of the military mission.
CIMIC is both a function and a capability. As a result, there are soldiers in most NATO armies specifically trained and employed in CIMIC. At the same time, most soldiers on most operations conduct some CIMIC business in their day to day operations. CIMIC Operators do not have a monopoly on CIMIC activities. They are meant to provide commanders with expertise and advice on CIMIC matters.
CIMIC works as a Force multiplier. For example, by building relationships with officials from Non-governmental organizations or local government officials, CIMIC personnel might become aware of a specific threat to the mission. In so doing, they have the opportunity to alert the commander, who can then deploy resources to deal with the threat. Rather than having to post patrols on every street corner, the commander's access to information gathered by CIMIC teams has allowed him to employ a smaller number of soldiers, and to use the soldiers he does have available in other areas.
NATO CIMIC reporting 
There is a vital need for translating relevant information into CIMIC knowledge.
A NATO working group is trying to solve this problem by establishing a CIMIC Reporting System that allows information sharing by the CIMIC staff from the tactical to the strategic level.
In current operations, the CIMIC staffs are overwhelmed by a huge information flow. To facilitate their work, a CECIL Working Group (see info box) has developed practical tools. The aim is to improve CIMIC assessments and develop a smoother information flow within the CIMIC “stove pipe” as well as a better horizontal distribution and sharing of pertinent info with the rest of the staff.
There is a need to improve collaboration between NATO and civilian partners in an operation. Today, the lack of a common database for information sharing is one of the main obstacles.
The system has been tested and has also proven to be a useful tool to consolidate/collect data for the Afghan Country Stability Picture (ACSP, see info box 3).
The CECIL Working Group discovered that there are a lot of different formats for CIMIC Reporting. There is a tendency at every HQ to create their own reports in the absence of detailed guidelines.
During the PfP Exercise VIKING '05, representatives from SHAPE and JFC Brunssum discovered the need for better CIMIC reporting. The ACOS’s from ACO at SHAPE and NATO's operational headquarters (JFC Brunssum, JFC Naples and JC Lisbon) discussed the issue and established in May 2006 the CECIL Working Group (WG). The WG consists of CIMIC staff officers, one from SHAPE and three from the J(F)C HQ’s. In addition, Subject Matter Experts can be called upon hen needed. The WG meets every second month. A Sub-WG for Training and Education was established and supports the introduction of the CECIL system.
Output of CECIL WG 
The WG developed a package with proposals, which consists of three “tools”: The CIMIC Situation Report itself, the CIMIC Tracking System and a standardised Commander's Update.
“These tools are exactly what we need. Our reports are shorter now, mores precise and stick to the essentials,"
ISAF CJ9 and JFC Brunssum J9 have used this CIMIC Situation Report on a weekly base since Feb 07; the Regional Commands will be introduced to the new reporting system soon. The topic was already briefed at NATO School in Oberammergau, Germany in the new CIMIC Staff Officers Course.
'This CECIL-tool is ideal for the CIMIC branches to manage their information which assists to stabilize the mission area. Information sharing through one database is essential for civilian and military partners'. CECIL is designed to focus on the most important issues. The Afghan Country Stability Picture gives operators at all levels the relevant facts in an efficient and convenient package.
The output of the Working Group so far is quite promising. The Working Group will be mandated for another year to continue working on the new established CIMIC information-sharing platform.
Additional information 
Civil-military cooperation (CIMIC) refers to the interaction between NATO-led forces and civil actors in Alliance-led operations.
Civil Military Overview / Civil Military Fusion Centre 
The Civil Military Overview (CMO) is an experimental portal supported by a dedicated Information and Knowledge Management organization, the Civil Military Fusion Centre (CFC). Both are part of a development effort conducted by NATO Allied Command Transformation in consultation with various civil organizations. It is designed to improve interaction between civil and military actors. Through the CMO, NATO and its partners are exploring innovative ways to collect and disseminate all relevant civil and military information on Crisis Response Operations in order to begin creating a shared sense of situational awareness among the global community.
The Working Group CECIL was established to streamline the CIMIC Reporting. CECIL (Coordinated, Effect Based, CIMIC Information Link) intends to assist any NATO CIMIC staff and focuses on the CIMIC challenges of the 21st century. The aim is to share CIMIC knowledge proactively in order to facilitate the job of CIMIC staff at all levels. For this purpose, the CECIL platform was created as a tool to disseminate CIMIC related information.
The Afghanistan Country Stability Picture (ACSP) project is an initiative led by NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to develop and maintain a comprehensive geographic database of reconstruction and development activities across Afghanistan. ACSP holds information about different Afghan National Development Strategy sectors such as Education, Good Governance, Health, Agriculture and Rural Development, Infrastructure and Natural Resources, Private Sector Development, Security, and Social Protection. The data held in the ACSP comes from several sources: the Government of Afghanistan (GOA), Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRT), and International, Governmental and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO). To provide efficient access to the ACSP data, NATO C3 Agency developed a web map service. The ACSP web site can be used to consult and query the ACSP database over the internet. NATO, NGOs and the GOA can use it for optimization and monitoring of reconstruction efforts.
ACOS: Assistant Chief of Staff
ACSP: Afghan Country Stability Picture
CIMIC: Civil Military Cooperation
ISAF: International Security Assistance Force (Afghanistan)
J9: CIMIC division in a Joint HQ
JC: Joint Command
JFC: Joint Force Command
SHAPE: Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe