U.S. Must Strengthen Civilian Expeditionary Capacity

U.S. Must Strengthen Civilian Expeditionary Capacity

The State Department is close to winding up the initial phase of a Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review. Mandated by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the QDDR aims at creating a more robust civilian capacity for U.S. global engagement. As part of that effort, the review's fourth working group addresses the task of "building and deploying an effective civilian capacity to address crises, conflicts, and countries in transition."

The review provides a historic opportunity to strengthen the expeditionary capacity of civilian agencies to deal with overseas conflicts. In 2005, after bungling stabilization and reconstruction in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Bush administration vested the secretary of state with responsibility for leading and coordinating the civilian agencies in those functions. National Security Presidential Directive 44 formalized that decision, designating the Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization (S/CRS), which had been created the previous year, as the secretary's action office for her new responsibilities.

The S/CRS soon built up to over 100 persons, and during the Bush administration, it played a major role in devising a "whole of government" protocol for new crises (the Interagency Management System) and in planning for specific countries like Kosovo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Liberia. It launched the Active and Standby components of the Civilian Response Corps and put officers into the field for short-term assignments in Sudan, Nepal and Haiti. In total, S/CRS has managed more than $300 million in reconstruction projects in more than a dozen countries.

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