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Ambassador John Herbst, Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization on S/CRS 2009 Year in Review

John E. Herbst
Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization 
Washington, DC
March 1, 2010


MR. TONER: Good afternoon and welcome to the Department of State. Today, it’s my pleasure to introduce to you Ambassador John Herbst, who currently serves as Secretary Clinton’s Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization. As coordinator, Ambassador Herbst is leading the development of the U.S. Government’s interagency civilian capacity to promote stabilization and reconstruction of societies in transition from conflict or civil strife. The ambassador is here today to present you with his 2009 year-end review marking the first anniversary of the Civilian Response Corps, a very special occasion for both his office and the State Department.

So without further ado, I present Ambassador Herbst.

AMBASSADOR HERBST: Thank you, Mark, and thank you for coming today. We are excited this afternoon to share our 2009 Year in Review and the accomplishments from a very special year for our office. Secretary Clinton has often stated that the ideal foreign policy is based upon smart power. Smart power, as she defines it, involves leveraging the full range of U.S. Governmental tools, whether they be diplomatic, economic, military, political, legal, or cultural, in a tailored combination to adequately address each unique situation that America faces abroad.

Today, I can demonstrate to you, with the help of our 2009 Year in Review report – let me just wave a copy of it for you – you can pick up on at the end of the day – that S/CRS has come to embody the Secretary’s principle of smart power. In a rapidly and continuously changing global environment, failing and post-conflict states pose one of the greatest national security challenges to the United States. Struggling states have become breeding grounds for terrorist activity, violent crime, trafficking, humanitarian catastrophes, and trafficking in weapons of mass destruction, all of which possess substantial impact on national security around the globe. 

From our operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, we see that complex challenges posed by ungoverned spaces require a comprehensive U.S. Government response, necessitating the coordination of the civilian and military sectors in order to leverage the full spectrum of U.S. Government resources to achieve our reconstruction and stabilization needs.

S/CRS was established in 2004 to organize the U.S. Government’s civilian response to such crises. And last year, we made several monumental strides. 2009 was the official first year of the Civilian Response Corps, a corps of civilian federal employees who are specially trained and equipped to deploy rapidly to provide reconstruction and stabilization assistance to countries in crisis or emerging from conflict.

Developed, managed, and implemented by S/CRS, the Civilian Response Corps consists of two components: the active component is a group of full-time first responders, trained and ready to deploy within 48 hours of a decision; and a standby component, staffed by Federal Government employees who can be called upon to deploy upon notice in 45 or 60 days. By the end of 2009, the corps had 78 members of the active component and 554 members of the standby, and our goal over the next year-plus is to grow the corps to 264 active members and 2,000 standby.

Tapping experts from around the U.S. Government, the Civilian Response Corps represents a partnership of eight federal agencies: State, USAID, Justice, Homeland Security, Treasury, Agriculture, Health and Human Services, and Commerce. Through this interagency partnership, the corps is able to bring the full weight of the U.S. Government to bear in stability operations. 

To assure member preparedness for their mission, the corps has a set of robust readiness requirements. Every active member must attend at least eight weeks of training before being deemed operationally ready, and standby members must complete at least two weeks of training before being considered for deployment. In 2009, S/CRS created a training curriculum with the help of its interagency partners that is very similar to the rigorous training required by the military. While this type of training is a new concept for the civilian U.S. Government sector, these courses are a key part of preparing our corps members for planning, assessment, security, and military coordination in the field.

Today, the corps has had 439 students participate in its training courses, including 76 members of the Department of Defense and 12 representatives from our partners overseas, both in the government and also including some NGOs. To put this training to the test, the corps and S/CRS have participated in several training exercises with the military and our international partners. In an example of one such exercise, at EUCOM in Stuttgart, an exercise called Austere Challenge, over 5o civilians from across the government participated in the largest civilian-military exercise in history. There were literally thousands of soldiers involved in that.

Also, as the Year in Review makes clear, the corps has made great strides in the field in 2009. Over the course of the year, we have deployed over 170 corps members and S/CRS personnel to countries around the world – in Africa, Central America, Central Asia – in support of stabilization missions. During these deployments, corps members have: one, implemented the Interagency Conflict Assessment Framework, or ICAF, for 14 countries. This is a tool for measuring conflict that we developed with our partners at USAID . During these deployments, our members have written the first civilian-military integrated campaign plan for Afghanistan. We’ve also written in the past campaign plans, civilian-military operational plans, for all PRTs in Afghanistan as well as Regional Command East and Regional Command South. 

This past year, we have staffed AFRICOM, SOUTHCOM, and CENTCOM to work on signal planning issues and to further expand coordination with the military. We deployed 13 members of the Civilian Response Corps to the Democratic Republic of Congo following up on Secretary Clinton’s visit there last August. They have done interagency sector assessments on economic governance, anti-corruption, food security, security sector reform, and sexual and gender-based violence. This will influence our government’s assistance strategy in the D.R.C.

And this is just a sampling of our accomplishments. Our progress is just beginning. Although the office was initially established in 2004 and officially authorized by Congress in 2008, funding was not made available to establish, train, and equip the Civilian Response Corps until early fiscal year 2009, after appropriations to State and USAID and the 2008 Iraq-Afghan supplemental. These past engagements and activities are an indication of the breadth and depth of the value S/CRS and the Civilian Response Corps are starting to bring to our national security efforts.

It is important to note that S/CRS and the corps have worked not only to respond to ongoing crises and instability, but also to prevent emerging conflict from happening. S/CRS manages the interagency process for assigning 1207 funds under the DOD account. This has been a $350 million program to provide support to civilian-led, whole-of-government projects that address instability in countries of critical relevance to the United States.

To date, we’ve initiated 25 1207 projects in 23 countries. In 2009, S/CRS and the corps used 1207 funding and the Interagency Conflict Assessment Framework to address the root causes of conflict in countries such as Cambodia, Colombia, Ecuador, Morocco, Paraguay, Sri Lanka, and Uganda. I believe that one of the most salient strengths of S/CRS and the Civilian Response Corps is this ability to engage in dedicated planning, conflict assessment, and mitigation activities that seek to reduce the need for future military interventions.

We have much to be proud of in our year-end report for 2009. But just as DOD constantly develops its capacity to meet evolving threats, we on the civilian side also strive to continually improve our efforts and strengthen our capacities. Implementation of Goldwater-Nichol by the military, a parallel capacity to what we’re trying to accomplish here, took 10 years. With this timeline and perspective in mind, it is clear that we in S/CRS and the Civilian Response Corps are just getting started.

As we have learned from past crises, particularly in Iraq, the U.S. cannot afford to respond to each unique situation in an ad hoc manner. Rather, we must institutionalize the best practices that allow the U.S. Government to succeed.

It is my belief that these efforts are contained in the Year in Review for 2009 to develop a strong and effective U.S. Government civilian response capability. We’ve gotten close to this goal and it will ultimately reduce the cost we pay for such activities, both in dollars and lives. I can think of no better application of smart power than that.

Thank you. And I’d be happy to take any questions. Yes.

QUESTION: Can you talk about some of the areas that – down the road that you’re like eyeing about possible need-to-do kind of post-conflict stabilization? Like is there anything in development that you haven’t like been deployed yet but you’re –

AMBASSADOR HERBST: Well, we are right now talking to our colleagues in Ambassador Gration’s office, Special Envoy Gration, and in the Africa Bureau about how we might help prepare for developments in Sudan over the next year. We have teams currently in the field working with our Embassy in Sanaa regarding their mission strategic program and ways we might be able to help them in the future. We are as well – we have missions at our embassies in Central Asia and Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, something similar. I can’t tell you we will be engaged there in a larger way than that, but these are all areas where we are working and where something may develop.

There’s no question that the assessment mission we conducted in the Democratic Republic of Congo is going to lead to recommendations, and I suspect we’ll be going back to help work on those recommendations.


QUESTION: What are they doing in Morocco? You mentioned Morocco. What are they focusing on?

AMBASSADOR HERBST: Oh, we run a 1207 program that was helping to – was doing some programs regarding Moroccan prisons to deal with people who were in jail to prevent recidivism.

QUESTION: Just to follow --

QUESTION: Sorry, go ahead.

QUESTION: Can you talk about the numbers, the (inaudible) numbers? What did S/CRS run last year? What’s it running this year? And have you asked for an increase?

AMBASSADOR HERBST: Right now, we received for FY10 a budget of $150 million. One hundred and twenty million came to S/CRS, 30 million came to USAID, all for the civilian stabilization initiative. For fiscal year ’11, our budget request is for $183 million, all for S/CRS to develop the civilian response capability.

QUESTION: That’s 183 million? 

AMBASSADOR HERBST: 183, that’s right.

QUESTION: Can you tell us about this for reconstruction in Haiti?


QUESTION: Can you tell us about the (inaudible) reconstruction in Haiti, now Chile?

AMBASSADOR HERBST: Oh, in Haiti, USAID has responsibility for the humanitarian operation that is currently underway. Our office has provided some support to USAID and, for that matter, to others in the State Department who are involved in Haiti. We have literally provided more than 40-50 people not just from our own staff, but across the interagency. All eight agencies that make up the Civilian Response Corps have participated in task forces through S/CRS dealing with the Haiti crisis. We have deployed someone into Haiti to help our Embassy there. We have provided equipment to USAID sending rapid responders into Haiti dealing with the humanitarian crisis. And we are available for future developments in Haiti as required by the State Department.

In Chile, this also seemed to be a humanitarian mission and we are not engaged at the present time.

QUESTION: Do you see any progress in your work in Somalia, with Somalia?

AMBASSADOR HERBST: We have helped to provide some 1207 programs for Somalia to promote stability by some initiatives working along the border of Somalia. We are in – we are part of the team with our – of course, under the leadership of our Africa Bureau that’s looking at possible next steps vis-à-vis Somalia, but there’s not much more I can say about that right now.

QUESTION: Just one last question. You said about the – you have 554 members on standby from the U.S. Government. Do you have members like from outside of government on standby like police workers or any type of – 

AMBASSADOR HERBST: The standby is currently restricted to American Government employees, current American Government employees. Now, among current American Government employees, you’ll find a very large number of skill sets, including people with police background, but they’re all currently American Government employees.

QUESTION: Is there any thought – I remember when they were talking about the concept that there was this idea that beyond the kind of standby that you had from the U.S. Government that you would also have people from like all different walks of life –

AMBASSADOR HERBST: That’s correct.

QUESTION: -- also on standby. Is there a thought to expand it?

AMBASSADOR HERBST: Right now we have authorization from Congress and funding from Congress to build a Civilian Response Corps with two components: the active members and the standby members. Our original notion was to have a corps with three components, also a reserve. A reserve would be what --

QUESTION: Reserve, right.

AMBASSADOR HERBST: -- you’re discussing. These are people who are not part of the federal government who would sign up for four years and who would be available for deployment for one year during that four-year period. We do not have authorization or funding to do that. Congress has said to us, build the two components and then come back to us and ask for that third. And this is still what we have in mind.

QUESTION: Okay, thank you.


PRN: 2010/240

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