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Peace Operations Capacity Building Division

The Department of State, Bureau of Political-Military Affairs manages the two primary U.S. security assistance programs focused on building international peacekeeping capacity: the Global Peace Operations Initiative, and the African Peacekeeping Rapid Response Partnership. Both programs are implemented in close partnership with the Department of Defense.

Global Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI)

The vision for GPOI is to work collaboratively with U.S. and international stakeholders to achieve and sustain operational effectiveness in peace operations and promote international peace and security. In support of this vision, the GPOI mission is to strengthen international capacity and capabilities to execute UN and regional peace operations by enhancing partner countries’ sustainable, self-sufficient peace operations proficiencies and by building the capacity of the UN and regional organizations to conduct such missions.

GPOI was launched in 2005 as the U.S. contribution to the G8 Action Plan for Expanding Global Capability for Peace Support Operations, adopted at the 2004 G8 Sea Island Summit. With a total budget of nearly $1.3 billion from Fiscal Years (FY) 2005-2020, GPOI funding accomplishes the following objectives:

  • Build Self-sufficient Peace Operations Training Capacity in Partner Countries: GPOI assists partner countries to establish or strengthen the institutions required to self-sufficiently execute core peace operations training capabilities for military personnel, including the development of national trainer cadre, refurbishment of training facilities, refinement of training materials, and provision of training equipment. So far, 60% of countries have achieved self-sufficiency in core peace operations training while active partners. Achievement of self-sufficiency does not end GPOI partnership but enables the partnership to focus on other objectives, such as those listed below.
  • Support Partner Countries’ Development and Employment of Critical Enabling Capabilities: GPOI provides training, equipment, and advisory assistance to help 35 partner countries develop and employ 67 critical enablers, such as engineer, aviation, medical, logistics, signals, riverine, and counter-improvised explosive device capabilities. Of these partner capabilities, 67% have been, are currently, or have been selected to deploy to UN and African Union (AU) peace operations.
  • Enhance Partner Country Operational Readiness and Sustainment Capabilities: GPOI is providing specialized or mission-specific pre-deployment training, technical/advisory assistance, strategic level training, in-mission supplemental training, and training or deployment equipment to improve and maintain partner countries’ operational readiness capabilities to deploy to and sustain units in peace operations. Overall, GPOI partners have increased the number of military personnel deployed to UN and AU peace operations by 130% since becoming GPOI partners, as compared to only a 27% increase in deployed troops from non-GPOI countries.
  • Strengthen Partner Country Rapid Deployment Capabilities: GPOI assists select partner countries to strengthen and institutionalize capabilities and processes to rapidly deploy (< 60 days) to emerging crises.
  • Expand the Role of Women and Enhance Gender Integration: GPOI encourages women’s participation, integration, and leadership in peace operations; trains female peacekeepers; and integrates gender-related topics (such as preventing gender-based violence and sexual exploitation and abuse) into training for all peacekeepers. More than 10,000 female peacekeepers have participated in GPOI-facilitated training.  Moreover, from September 2010 to September 2020, GPOI partners increased the number of deployed female military peacekeepers by 109% as compared to a 38% increase among non-GPOI countries.
  • Build UN and Regional Organization Capabilities: GPOI provides assistance to build UN and regional organizations’ capabilities to strengthen peace operations. For example, GPOI has funded 23 projects to help the UN develop doctrine, guidance documents, military unit manuals, and training materials, as well as to execute UN training events and provide advisory and technical assistance.

African Peacekeeping Rapid Response Partnership (APRRP)

  • Established in FY 2015, APRRP was announced as a targeted, three-to-five year initiative to help generate and rapidly deploy peacekeepers from six partner countries:  Ethiopia, Ghana, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, and Uganda. The program’s mission is to build, strengthen, and institutionalize capabilities to rapidly respond to crises on the African continent.
  • APRRP complements GPOI’s broader capacity building efforts by focusing on developing high demand enabling capabilities (e.g., airlift; command, control, communications, and information systems (C3IS); engineering; logistics; medical; and FPUs) that are persistent shortfalls in UN and regional peace operations and which underpin capacity to deploy a rapid response force. Program efforts are designed to be full capability packages, which include equipment, equipment-related training, and training on required skill sets. APRRP’s budget is approximately $267,500,000 from FY 2015-2017. As program implementation continues, three partners developing rapid deployment capabilities with APRRP assistance pledged to elevate critical enabling units to the UN’s Rapid Deployment Level (RDL).

Security Forces Capacity Building Division

The Security Forces Capacity Building Division (SFCB) manages three key programs with the objective of building institutional capacity to improve security sector governance.  Programs include: The Global Defense Reform Program, Security Force Professionalization Program, and The Global Security Contingency Fund.

Global Defense Reform Program

The Global Defense Reform Program (GDRP) is a flexible, multi-year Department of State-funded program that builds U.S. partner institutional capacity at the service, ministerial, and national levels to ensure security is provided in an effective, transparent, and accountable manner. GDRP presents an opportunity to leverage advisory and other strategic support services to advance institutional reforms that achieve U.S. foreign policy objectives. GDRP projects build the resilience of U.S. partners and their security institutions, enhance effectiveness and accountability, and better align defense sectors to the needs and challenges of partner nations and their citizens. At the same time, GDRP projects advance U.S. national security and foreign policy objectives, reduce threats to the homeland, and avert the need for U.S. military interventions through the promotion of alliances and partnerships needed to succeed in today’s competitive geopolitical environment.

GDRP-funded projects (through FY 2020) are in 18 countries. Support includes assistance to:  define roles, missions, capabilities, command and control, and force structure of the national defense establishment consistent with national objectives; develop and implement relevant legal and policy frameworks; improve civilian management, leadership, oversight, planning, and budgeting capacities; enhance coordination and cooperation among defense-related and civil institutions; and manage the legacies and sources of past or present conflict or insecurity.

GDRP Objectives
  • Develop professional partner nation security sectors rooted in the rule of law, respect for human rights, and accountable to civilian oversight;
  • Foster stability and address shared U.S. and partner country security challenges; and
  • Build the capacity of partner nations to responsibly and effectively employ their forces to address security concerns, in line with U.S. national security objectives.

Security Force Professionalization Program

As required by Section 7049(a)(5) of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2019, the Department of State is responsible for administering a program to increase the capacity of foreign military personnel to operate in accordance with appropriate standards relating to human rights and the protection of civilians. In particular, SFCB will oversee the effort to increase partner capacity to collect, track, and analyze data on civilian casualties resulting from military operations of the respective government, including to apply lessons learned to future operations, and to enhance investigative capacity, transparency, and accountability. The PM bureau will collaborate with other bureaus, the Department of Defense, and key non-government organizations throughout the implementation of this new program.

The Global Security Contingency Fund

The Global Security Contingency Fund (GSCF) is a unique authority established in the FY 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). It provides the Secretaries of State and Defense with a flexible tool to pool funding and expertise across agencies to help advance the U.S. government’s overall strategic objectives and meet security challenges that arise outside of the regular budget cycles.

GSCF’s broad authority allows for tailored and integrated assistance programs coordinated through interagency planning to build security capacity of U.S. allies and partner nations. GSCF provides train and equip assistance to enhance the capabilities of partner country military forces and other national-level security forces to conduct border and maritime security, internal defense, and counterterrorism operations, as well as to participate in or support military, stability, or peace support operations consistent with U.S. foreign policy and national security interests.

GSCF Objectives

GSCF has invested $232 million in 14 countries to accomplish the following key objectives:

  • Expand U.S. flexibility to address emerging security challenges and seize diplomatic opportunities: GSCF complements other State and DoD security cooperation authorities by enabling the two Departments to address emerging policy priorities outside of the regular budget cycle. The authority enables State and DoD to pool funding and increase joint planning and partnership to achieve the greatest impact for high-priority policy initiatives.
  • Build partner capacity to meet shared security challenges: GSCF strengthens the capabilities of U.S. allies and partners to effectively manage and confront challenges from regional aggressors, and from transnational terrorist and criminal organizations. GSCF efforts have helped enable partner nations to deploy forces or resources beyond their borders in support of international coalitions and multilateral peacekeeping efforts.
  • Develop strong, independent, security partners: GSCF efforts help build self-sustaining, modern, and professional security institutions, thereby reducing the need for assistance over time and increasing the ability of U.S. partners to share the burden of security costs.

Aviation and Operations Division

The Aviation and Operations Division (AOD) leads for the Department on state aircraft policy, leads political efforts for the U.S. government on countering piracy, coordinates foreign policy approval of DoD humanitarian assistance operations, and synchronizes bureau contributions to the U.S. Strategy on Women, Peace, and Security.

U.S. State Aircraft Policy and Foreign Diplomatic Clearance

  • U.S. State Aircraft: AOD is the Department lead on U.S. state aircraft policy, ensuring that foreign country handling of all U.S. military and other state aircraft is consistent with international and domestic laws, agreements, and accepted practice. AOD provides policy and diplomatic support to the Department of Defense (DoD) and other agencies that operate state aircraft in international and foreign airspace.
  • Foreign State Aircraft: As the U.S. government lead office, AOD provides diplomatic clearance for foreign state aircraft seeking to enter U.S. national airspace. Foreign missions in the United States submit clearance requests to AOD via the online  Diplomatic Clearance Application System (DCAS). Before granting final approval, AOD coordinates DCAS requests with country desks, DoD, the Federal Aviation Administration, Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Secret Service, and various airport authorities, as appropriate. Review the instructions on use of DCAS.
  • Foreign Government Ships: AOD also grants, via DCAS, diplomatic clearance for foreign government ships, including naval vessels, seeking to enter U.S. territorial waters or ports. GPI coordinates these requests with its interagency partners, including various components of the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security.


AOD leads the U.S. government on political efforts to reduce the threat of piracy off the coast of Somalia. AOD leads the U.S. delegation to the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia, which in 2019 had 32 active country delegations and more than 20 international organizations participating. AOD also co-chairs, with DoD, the interagency Counter Piracy Steering Group, which focuses on piracy off Somalia, in the Gulf of Guinea, within the Bay of Campeche, and in the vicinity of the Strait of Malacca.

Humanitarian Assistance Operations

  • Denton Program: This program permits DoD to provide transportation of privately donated humanitarian assistance cargo to foreign countries using military transportation on a space-available basis at no cost to the donating non-government organization. AOD provides foreign policy clearance on each shipment. As required by statute, AOD also submits to Congress an annual report identifying the origin, contents, destination, and disposition of all supplies transported under this section. It is authorized by the Jeremiah Denton Amendment to Title 10 U.S.C., section 402.
  • The Humanitarian and Civic Assistance (HCA) Program: HCA permits U.S. military forces to carry out humanitarian assistance projects as part of training missions overseas. Typical projects include medical, dental, and veterinary care in rural areas, as well as drilling and construction of basic water and sanitation facilities. AOD ensures the humanitarian and civic assistance is consistent with U.S. foreign policy and provides final Department of State concurrence. It is authorized by Title 10 U.S.C., section 401.

Maritime Security Team

The Maritime Security Team (MST), comprised of a U.S. Coast Guard Liaison Officer and U.S. Navy Advisor (Senior Maritime Advisor), works to improve capabilities, synchronize policy and strategy, establish tools and resources, and manage information to enhance maritime security in countries and regions of vital importance to U.S. foreign policy.

Maritime Security Community of Interest

The MST serves as the Secretariat to a Department-wide community of interest in the field of maritime security. This informal working-level forum strengthens the exchange of information among functional bureaus, regional bureaus, and other State offices on global maritime security programs, activities, events, and issues of cogent interest. In doing so, it raises levels of awareness of attendees to the multidimensional nature of maritime security (governance, economy, environment, defense, law enforcement, safety, and response and recovery).

National Maritime Security Strategy

MST has a leadership role in interagency maritime security policy formulation. The synergy drawn from the Maritime Security Community of Interest markedly enhances the Department’s ability to effectively contribute to U.S. government maritime security related policies, strategies, and issues.

Partnership with the U.S. Coast Guard

The maritime security capacity needs of partner nations increasingly demand the expertise and coordination of the U.S. Coast Guard.  MST’s Coast Guard Liaison Officer is the Department’s Senior USCG Liaison and, accordingly, the primary Department of State point of contact with USCG Headquarters and its Director of International Affairs and Foreign Policy.  MST works to help the USCG find support and resources to address global maritime security foreign policy priorities.

Engaging International Organizations on Maritime Security

MST is engaging with significant multinational organizations on global maritime security strategic issues.  Maritime security challenges inherently cross geographic regions, and the MST has a distinct role in helping to shape a global approach to maritime security in the Department.  MST is strengthening global maritime security through participation in global organizations such as the G7 and regional organizations such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).  MST’s Naval Advisor co-chairs the United States’ management effort of an international working group that facilitates international Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) efforts under the auspices of the interagency MDA Executive Steering Committee.

Bilateral and Multilateral Engagement on Maritime Security

Beyond MST’s global concentration, the team places unique focus on important regional efforts and bilateral/multilateral relationships to facilitate dialogue among technical experts.

Critical Interagency Link

MST maintains and nurtures vital networks between the Departments of State, Defense, and Homeland Security to strengthen and align fundamental interagency collaboration and cooperation.

Contributions of the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs to Women, Peace, and Security (WPS)

UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000) recognizes the inordinate impact of war and conflict on women and the pivotal role women must play in conflict management, conflict resolution, and sustainable peace. The Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) Act of 2017 established U.S. policy across the interagency to promote the meaningful participation of women in all aspects of overseas conflict prevention, management, and resolution. The United States Strategy on Women, Peace, and Security (June 2019), and the Department of State Plan to Implement the U.S. Strategy on Women, Peace, and Security (June 2020) were developed in support of the WPS Act and provide strategic direction to the U.S. commitment to advance women’s roles in peace and security.

Political-Military Bureau Implements WPS Goals and Objectives

The Bureau of Political-Military Affairs in the U.S. Department of State (PM) advances the implementation of the goals and objectives outlined in the WPS policy documents cited above by accelerating the mainstreaming of women’s participation and gender perspectives – especially at leadership and decision-making levels – within the security institutions of partner nations. PM programs, events, and activities accomplish this by focusing on the political-military aspects of the following Department of State WPS outcomes:

  • Department Outcome 1: Women around the world meaningfully participate in decision-making processes related to conflict and crises
  • Department Outcome 2: Women and girls around the world have access to aid, and are safe from all forms of gender-based violence, abuse, and exploitation
  • Department Outcome 3: U.S. personnel and international programs advance women’s and girls’ equality and empowerment
  • Department Outcome 4: Partner governments adopt policies, plans, and capacity to improve the meaningful participation of women in processes connected to peace and security and decision-making institutions

PM promotes WPS goals and objectives, particularly women’s meaningful participation in the security sector, through diplomatic and programmatic efforts. The bureau addresses WPS issues and conflict-related gender-based violence principally by including these issues in a multitude of training courses, exercises, and programmatic activities supporting peacekeeping capacity building, security assistance programs, and conventional weapons destruction.

Global Peace Operations Initiative

PM manages the Global Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI), the world’s largest peace operations capacity-building program, partnering with 55 countries that contribute personnel to UN and African Union peacekeeping missions. GPOI encourages women’s participation and leadership in peace operations, trains women peacekeepers, and integrates gender-related topics (such as preventing gender-based violence) into training for all peacekeepers. GPOI also conducts courses specifically focused on gender and women’s participation in peace operations. Since 2007, PM has trained more than 10,000 women peacekeepers; and in the past 10 years, GPOI partners have increased the number of deployed female military peacekeepers by 109%, as compared to a 38% increase among non-GPOI countries.

GPOI also works to remove barriers to women’s participation in training through gender-inclusive facility upgrades, including accommodations, bathrooms, and showers at partners’ peace operations training centers. Additionally, GPOI works to improve accountability for acts of misconduct, including sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) by peacekeepers. GPOI funded and initiated planning for the Defense Institute for International Legal Studies and for the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services to develop a first-of-its-kind joint U.S.–UN training course for deploying units of National Investigation Officers (NIO), who investigate conduct and discipline issues with a focus on SEA. In 2018 – 2019, seven regional NIO courses were conducted, training over 170 students from 36 countries in the African, Latin American, and Indo-Pacific regions. COVID-19 paused these courses in 2020.

International Military and Education Training

The International Military and Education Training (IMET) foreign military assistance account, managed by PM, provides opportunities for foreign military personnel from 135 countries to receive professional military education at U.S. defense institutions alongside U.S. counterparts to build expertise, interoperability, and people-to-people ties that deepen security partnerships and enhance mission efficacy. All Security Cooperation Officers working at U.S. embassies are encouraged to include qualified women candidates for IMET programs in at least the same percentage as they are present in their host country’s military. This resulted in providing training to approximately 1,783 women between fiscal years 2015-2019.

Conventional Weapons Destruction

PM funds and manages Conventional Weapons Destruction (CWD) programs implemented by various non-government organizations (NGOs), through which women work as deminers or are employed to deliver mine risk education to affected communities. PM has funded all-female demining teams in Tajikistan since 2014 and a dozen all-female demining teams in Sri Lanka for nearly a decade. In Cambodia, where three decades of armed conflict have left the country littered with landmines and unexploded ordnance, limiting access to farmland and development for poor communities, PM supports all-female teams of deminers in partnership with the international NGO Norwegian People’s Aid. These all-female teams currently are surveying six million square meters in priority villages to identify hazard areas.

U.S. Department of State

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