This report serves as the fifth and final annual report and strategy to the Congress required under Sections 1607 and 1608 of the Reconstruction and Stabilization Civilian Management Act of 2008 (Title XVI ofP.L. 110-417). It provides information on the Civilian Response Corps (CRC)1 and the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations (CSO), which manages the CRC.
The CRC was created in 2008 to carry out civilian tasks in reconstruction and stabilization. The CRC-Active component (CRC-A) comprises pre-cleared, trained federal civilian employees prepared to deploy within 48 hours. The CRC-Standby (CRC-S) comprises federal civilian employees who can deploy within 30 days with their agency's consent. CSO also uses other networks to find and deploy civilian experts within and outside of the federal government.
|Table 1: FY 2012 Deployments|
|Countries||Number of Personnel Deployed|
Civilian Response Corps
Average deployment length was 71 days. However, the duration of deployments varied widely with engagements. Average deployments to Afghanistan, a well-established engagement, were 144 days. Newer and more urgent engagements such as work in Turkey with the Syrian civilian opposition (44 days) and Kenya (32 days) tended to be shorter. (See Table 1)
During the last year, no steps were taken to establish the Reserve component of the CRC. The State Department's 2010 Quadrennial Diplomacy and The Reconstruction and Stabilization Civilian Management Act of 2008 authorized a Response Readiness Corps (composed of federal employees) and a Civilian Reserve Corps. "Civilian Response Corps" refers to both groups collectively and is composed of active, standby, and reserve components. Development Review recommended replacing it with an Experts Corps similar to the network model described below.
Civilian Response Network
The CRC has proven to be a useful tool in the U.S. government's ability to expedite civilian deployment to conflict zones. However, it is costly ($24 million in FY 2011), and underutilized (average deployment rate of 37 percent in FY 2011). Furthermore, conflict prevention and crisis response require skill sets not always available in the CRC.
Over the past year, CSO shifted the model of the CRC to deploy a wider range of responders more quickly and at lower cost.
These changes shifted CSO from an organization that supports CRC-A personnel regardless of how often they deploy (just-in-case responders) to a model that uses more specialists who can be funded only when they are in the field (Just in-time responders). Though it forced some hard choices within the CRC, the savings allow CSO to focus its work overseas at a lower cost.
When a need for civilian capacity is identified, CSO has access to more than 50 networks and recruitment vehicles. CSO can search its database of civilian responders, call upon CRC partner agencies, or tap into its networks of U.S., international, and in-country talent. The networks include U.S.-based police and justice professional associations and other networks of civilians with experience in state and local government. They also include international non-governmental organizations, international partners' rosters such as those of the UN and the UK's Stabilisation Unit, and networks of specialists in the countries and regions where CSO works, who possess necessary language skills and cultural understanding.
The CRN includes several hallmarks:
As part of its FY 2014 budget, the Department requests flexible hiring and spending authorities for engagement in conflict and crisis. These authorities would allow for faster and less expensive mechanisms to deploy a wide range of talent.
Conflict and Stabilization Operations Strategy
CSO advances U.S. national security by helping posts and regional bureaus take early and strategic action to break cycles of violence, with a focus on improving civilian security within 12 months of engagement. CSO supports the Department's efforts to increase coherence and effectiveness in conflict prevention and crisis response by providing resources and capabilities for: (1) unbiased conflict analysis grounded in local insight that offers clear policy and program options; (2) strategic plans that focus resources on priorities; and (3) operations in conflict-affected and transition settings that leverage partnerships and build on local initiatives.
This strategy reflects principles of contemporary approaches to conflict prevention and response: agility, global reach, extensive partnerships, local grounding, and thrift. The CRC and Civilian Response Network are important tools in this work. In pursuit of these objectives, CSO has reorganized over the last year to focus on conflict prevention and response. It now directs 80 percent of salaries to conduct and support deployments. CSO consolidated from three locations in the Washington area to one, liquidating its warehouse, saving or avoiding costs of $6.5 million over two years on top of the savings from the CRC.
In 2013, CSO funded operations to support the Syrian civilian opposition, mitigate conflict during the Kenyan election, reduce violence in Honduras, strengthen the security sector in Libya, consolidate stability in Somalia, and build trust between Burmese ethnic groups and their government, among other initiatives.
CRC and CSO engagements occur at the request of U.S. embassies, regional bureaus, or Department or executive branch leadership. The first step in any engagement is joint, unbiased local analysis so that all U.S. actors share a common understanding of the situation and agree on a prioritized, strategic response.
Usually, CSO undertakes this analysis with other parts of the Department of State and the interagency, especially USAID. This approach is critical to drive coherence and focus among the many parties engaged in response to conflict and crisis.
CSO also uses a cooperative interagency model for driving foreign assistance to strategic, quick-impact projects with real-time evaluation in priority countries. In 2012, CSO, other Department of State bureaus, and interagency partners conducted a global evaluation of the Section 1207 program and identified more than $30 million that was not being put to effective use. A selection committee composed of CSO, the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL), USAID, the Office of U.S. Foreign Assistance Resources (F), and DoDjointly and transparently reprogrammed the money for priority stabilization projects, including:
This process has reduced by months the time from project conception to delivery of funds. The selection committee directs funds to the best-positioned implementers for priority projects, regardless of bureaucratic position. Of the $17.9 million in Section 1207 reprogrammed to six countries to date, $2.7 million - 15 percent - went to CSO programs.