CSO’s expertise focuses on three key lines of effort: 1) political instability; 2) security sector stabilization; and 2) countering violent extremism (CVE). CSO collaborates with regional and functional bureaus, DOD, and USAID, and details stabilization advisors to posts and Geographic Combatant Commands (COCOMS) requiring specialized expertise.

  • POLITICAL INSTABILITY:  CSO maps country conditions, analyzes local dynamics, assesses risks/threats, and forecasts future zones of instability.  An essential tool is the Instability Monitoring Analysis Platform (IMAP), which collects, visualizes, and analyzes data on political instability and conflict trends across the globe.  CSO also supports local partners in implementing stabilization programs.  CSO’s work has contributed to peace-process negotiations, mitigating election violence, sanctions assessments, and policy decisions.
  • SECURITY SECTOR STABILIZATION:  The proliferation of militia and breakdown of national armies remains a key impediment to stabilizing fragile and failed states.  CSO helps stabilize security sectors by identifying, mapping, and analyzing militia influence, and supporting disarmament demobilization, and reintegration programs.  These efforts inform policies on detention, prosecution, or rehabilitation.
  • COUNTERING VIOLENT EXTREMISM:  CSO aims to reduce the recruitment and radicalization of violent extremists in areas of critical U.S. national interest.  The Bureau collaborates with the Bureau of Counter Terrorism and Countering Violent Extremism to provide research, analysis, and monitoring and evaluation of regional programs.  CSO identifies at-risk individuals, vulnerable communities, and countering violent extremism influencers.


  • Stabilization Assistance Review: In early 2018, Department of State, USAID, and Department of Defense approved the Stabilization Assistance Review (SAR) as a new framework to best leverage our diplomatic engagement, defense, and foreign assistance to stabilize conflict-affected areas.  The SAR captures lessons learned from previous stabilization contexts and details a framework to optimize interagency efforts.
  • Ukraine Story Map: In the wake of Ukraine’s 2013-2014 Revolution of Dignity, Russia illegally seized and occupied Crimea and started an armed conflict in eastern Ukraine. Five years on, Russia continues to arm, train, lead, and fight alongside the anti-government forces in eastern Ukraine, while falsely insisting it is not a party to the conflict. The resource provides the chronology of events from the occupation of Crimea and the beginning of the war on the Donbass in 2014 until Russian seizure of Ukrainian ships in the Black Sea in November 2018. Ukraine Interactive Dashboard»
  • Northern Triangle and Mexico Country Conditions and the Highest And Lowest Municipalities: Country conditions drawing on reported data from the governments of Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. Northern Triangle and Mexico Interactive Dashboard»
  • A Pathway to Defections: An Assessment Framework for Processing Defectors and Disengaged Fighters: This report is the culmination of a joint project between the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations in the U.S. Department of State and the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s Stabilisation Unit. Its purpose is to provide planners and practitioners with an analytical and evidence-based framework for building an effective and sustainable defections plan. The report presents optimal conditions for encouraging disengagement but emphasizes that not all elements will be present in a given context and that the defections pathway is not linear or static in any way. Nevertheless, there are good reasons for taking calculated steps to encourage voluntary defections even when conditions are not optimal. Successful defection programs depend on several critical enablers: detailed analysis for understanding fighters’ incentives and motivations, lines of communication and political offers built on the analytical and contextual findings, and a defection ‘pathway’. The report highlights several critical factors in the analysis—key actors, structural capacities and programmatic provisions, as outlined below—and provides guidance to planners and practitioners for implementing the defection plan.

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future