The Concept of  

Civil administration support is assistance to stabilize a foreign government. There are three mission activities that support civil administration: civil assistance, civil administration in friendly territory, and civil administration in occupied territory. It fulfills obligations arising from treaties, agreements, or international law.

Civil Administration in Occupied Territory
  1. Situations occur when military necessity or legitimate directives require the Army to establish a temporary government in an occupied territory.
  2. The civil administration in occupied territory is imposed by force. The administered territory is under effective U.S. military control.
  3. The U.S. military goal is to establish a government that supports U.S. objectives and to transfer control to a duly organized government as quickly as possible.
  4. The U.S. military will identify, screen, and train reliable civilians to ease this transfer.
  5. Even with the use of local civilians, the occupying forces still retain the power to exercise supreme authority.
  6. Granting authority to civilian government officials does not of itself terminate the Army's responsibility in the occupied territory.
  7. The goal of U.S. civil administration of an occupied territory is to create an effective civil government. This government should not pose a threat to future peace and stability. Support to civil administration of an occupied territory should emphasize that an orderly and efficient transition occurs from civil administration to civil government and the obligations of international law and treaties are met.
  8. Occupied hostile territory is an area the United States has taken possession of (through force of arms) with the intent to keep it from enemy control.
  9. Possession does not require the presence of troops in all areas of the occupied territory. The occupying force must, however, be able to quickly deploy to any area within the territory to enforce its authority.
  10. The head of an established civil administration system is the civil administrator, often called the military governor. The administrator is a military commander or other designated person who exercises authority over the occupied territory.
  11. The occupying power may allow the existing government structure to continue under its control and supervision. It represents the easiest basis for developing a functioning government on short notice, since it is already in place.
  12. The occupying power may elect to retain all public officials or, for political or security reasons, may replace all or selected personnel with other qualified people. Programs directed toward effecting political reform, strengthening government agencies and institutions, and developing self-government are carried out as necessary.
  13. In some cases, the occupying power may find it necessary to reorganize, replace, or abolish selected agencies or institutions of the existing government.
  14. Replacing the existing government and building a new structure is the most drastic "change of administration, COA". The occupying power should adopt this COA only if the old regime has completely collapsed or is so hostile or poses such a threat to peace and stability that its continued existence cannot be tolerated.
  15. The occupying power must obey the existing laws, but in many cases, it may have to change the existing laws. International law is quite specific about requirements. It must meet these requirements when changing civil law in an occupied territory.


Convention (IV) relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War   Geneva, Aug. 12, 1949
                Part III : Status and treatment of protected persons
                        Section III : Occupied territories


Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive.

Nevertheless, the Occupying Power may undertake total or partial evacuation of a given area if the security of the population or imperative military reasons do demand. Such evacuations may not involve the displacement of protected persons outside the bounds of the occupied territory except when for material reasons it is impossible to avoid such displacement. Persons thus evacuated shall be transferred back to their homes as soon as hostilities in the area in question have ceased.

The Occupying Power undertaking such transfers or evacuations shall ensure, to the greatest practicable extent, that proper accommodation is provided to receive the protected persons, that the removals are effected in satisfactory conditions of hygiene, health, safety and nutrition, and that members of the same family are not separated.

The Protecting Power shall be informed of any transfers and evacuations as soon as they have taken place.

The Occupying Power shall not detain protected persons in an area particularly exposed to the dangers of war unless the security of the population or imperative military reasons so demand.

The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.

Commentary: This means that settlements are prohibited. The occupying power cannot confiscate land in the occupied territory for the sole purpose of establishing settlements for its nationals. The occupying power also has the responsibility to preserve and maintain the demographic and social configuration of the occupied territory, which may entail restricting even voluntary migrations.


The Occupying Power may not compel protected persons to serve in its armed or auxiliary forces. No pressure or propaganda which aims at securing voluntary enlistment is permitted.