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    Civil Affairs Serves as the ‘Sweet Spot’ Between Army and Academia

    Civil Affairs Serves as the 'Sweet Spot' Between Army and Academia

    Photo By Lt. Col. Brett Walker | Maj. Gustavo Ferreira and Maj. Jamie Critelli (a captain at the time of the photo) of...... read more read more



    Story by Lt. Col. Brett Walker 

    353d Civil Affairs Command

    Ft. Wadsworth, New York – Food supply chains and the associated effects on future military operations is one of the many nuanced civil-military fields in which the soldiers of the 353rd Civil Affairs Command provide expertise to the United States military. Maj. Gustavo Ferreira and Maj. Jamie Critelli of the 353rd CACOM have published nine scholarly papers on the agriculture-related limits to proposed military actions across the globe.
    “This is a good opportunity to put my civilian skills to good use for the military,” said Ferreira, who holds a doctorate in agricultural economics from Louisiana State University and currently works for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. “That is the beauty of the 38G. We can use our professional networks to get all of the information that we need.”
    The Army’s 38G Civil Affairs program provides to the military Army officers with extensive expertise in 18 identified fields ranging from preservation of antiquities to school administration. These officers provide analysis, insights and guidance to military and civilian leaders all over the world in support of U.S. interests and worldwide security.
    Some 38G officers, such as Ferreira, are seasoned soldiers who progressed through the ranks in the traditional manner. Ferreira joined the Army in 2009 as an enlisted combat engineer. He then attended Officer Candidate School and commissioned as a lieutenant in 2011. After eight years as a chemical officer, he joined the 38G program. His PhD in agriculture economics, his experience as faculty at Virginia Tech University’s department of agricultural economics and senior position at the USDA qualified him for the position.
    Other 38G officers are recipients of direct commissions, meaning that they received a fully vetted, yet expedited appointment as an officer. The rank of those direct commissions varies depending on the level of experience a candidate brings to the mission. Recently, the 353rd CACOM welcomed new captains and majors.
    Critelli, like his co-author Ferreira, worked his way through the ranks having joined the Army in 1998 through Cornell University’s ROTC program. He learned of the 38G program from a Civil Affairs officer while they were deployed together in Iraq.
    “I was the first person in the unit to put together a 38G packet,” said Critelli. “A few months later I came across Maj. Ferreira and helped him submit a packet. Since then, I’ve put together about 40 packets for 38G . . . I do about two per month.”
    More information on applying to be a 38G, Military Support to Governance Officer, with the 353rd CACOM can be obtained by emailing or calling 910-598-4231.
    In the summer of 2022 Ferreira and Critelli co-authored an article entitled Does China Have Enough Foot to Go to War? Drawing upon their collective knowledge of food science, agri-business, import/export patterns and military doctrine, they presented a case that China’s evolving dietary requirements as well as its dwindling availability of arable land and water may preclude any major expeditionary military operations. Military Review, the U.S. Army’s official professional journal published the article and thereafter it was cited by several prominent magazines, including The Economist (twice).
    “I was concerned that military planners might overlook this very important part of Chinese policy,” explained Ferreira on his motivation for the project. “I am trying to bring light to this critical issue and inform the intelligence community that they should be looking at this.”
    Ferreira and Critelli next wrote Taiwan’s Food Resiliency – or Not – in a Conflict with China the following year. The U.S. Army War College’s quarterly magazine, Parameters, ran it in its summer 2023 edition. That article proved to be one of the publication’s most popular pieces in years and was downloaded more than a thousand times. In that article these 353rd CACOM soldiers called attention to the short period of time in which Taiwan could continue to feed its people if subjected to a Chinese naval blockade.
    “We all think about arming Taiwan to the teeth, but nobody thought about feeding them,” Ferreira said in summary of that article.
    The 2023 and 2022 articles can be found at: and, respectively. Critelli and Ferreira have collaborated on more than a half-dozen other projects in the past five years.
    “Really what we were trying to do with all of this is build awareness that people are doing thought leadership in this area,” said Critelli. “So if we get commanders reading this stuff, they will start calling back to our unit to assist them. . . . The phone now rings steady for assistance in the agricultural space.”
    The American military and intelligence communities are attune to their work. As a result of their position with the 353rd CACOM and the insightfulness of their writing, they have been invited to brief the CIA and various military strategy think tanks. This is precisely how they hoped their military careers would progress.
    “I want to become a point of reference where anybody in the DoD or intelligence community can reach out to me and my Civil Affairs peers,” said Ferreira. “I want to create that sense of expertise.”
    The pair recently traveled to Philadelphia to present some of their research to the Defense Logistics Agency.
    “When we ran the numbers, they were just blown away,” said Critelli.
    Critelli and Ferreira feel the 353rd CACOM and other 38G soldiers in other Civil Affairs units can provide the United States and other friendly nations with efficient flow of information on complex issues that do not organically exist in the traditional military formation.
    “I don’t want the DoD to have to feel the need to contract at all,” said Ferreira. “I’ve seen the military reach out to academia, but academia does not fully understand the Army and Army does not fully understand academia. The 38Gs are the sweet spot between them. We are the experts for the Army, but we are in-house.”
    As Civil Affairs 38G officers in the 353rd CACOM, Critelli and Ferreira are continuing to research, analyze, write and present. They are presently working on a project covering food resiliency in the Baltics.

    Story by U.S. Army Lt. Col. Brett Walker, Public Affairs Officer, 353 CACOM



    Date Taken: 01.15.2024
    Date Posted: 01.15.2024 21:43
    Story ID: 461846
    Location: US

    Web Views: 429
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