A civilian is a person who is not involved with any military or other law enforcement activities. The term is most commonly used in reference to individuals who are not part of the armed forces, such as contractors or employees of nonmilitary companies, but can also refer to government workers. For example, the Civilian Defense Administration is a branch of the US government that provides support for the Armed Forces.
This type of support includes everything from food, medical, housing and equipment. The civilian workforce is made up of many different types of people, including those who work in the administrative and medical fields. Civilian workers may have a degree or certification in their field of expertise or be self-taught. The US Government employs many civilians, who are referred to as Federal employees, in various positions throughout the country and overseas. A Federal employee can be a teacher, engineer, computer programmer, accountant, auditor or other similar professional. Civilian workers can earn competitive pay, excellent benefits and retirement options.
There are many similarities between the military and civilian worlds. However, the main difference is that in the military, everyone works together as a team and there is an element of camaraderie. The sense of brotherhood or sisterhood that exists is largely due to the fact that they are essentially facing life and death situations on a daily basis with each other. This can be a very stressful environment and it is important to have a strong sense of camaraderie that will help soldiers through these situations.
In the civilian world, working conditions are not as structured and there is usually less camaraderie. In addition, most civilians are paid on a hourly basis and are not guaranteed employment for the rest of their lives. For instance, if a company goes bankrupt, the employee is not guaranteed to have a job in the future. This means that it is not uncommon for a civilian to have several jobs over the course of his or her lifetime.
Another big difference between the military and civilian worlds is the amount of control that civilian authority has over the armed forces. It is important to maintain a balance where the civilian leadership decides the objective of an action but leaves it to the armed forces to determine the best way to achieve that objective. This is necessary in order to avoid overstepping the prerogatives of the military and provoking a backlash.
In the context of international humanitarian law, it is unclear as to whether members of armed opposition groups fall within the definition of civilians or combatants. Most manuals state that civilians who directly participate in hostilities lose their protection against attack and become combatants, but do not address the issue of armed opposition groups. This creates a grey area that needs further clarification in the practice of military law.