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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 promote international peace and security by reinforcing the global commitment to achieve and sustain effectiveness in UN and regional peace operations.  In support of this vision, the GPOI mission is to strengthen the effectiveness of UN and regional peace operations by enhancing partner countries’ capacities to prepare, deploy, and sustain peacekeepers and reinforcing UN and regional organizations’ performance and accountability frameworks.

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 more than $1.4 billion from Fiscal Years (FY) 2005-2022, GPOI funding is applied to accomplish the following objectives:

  • Support Partner Countries’ Development of Critical Mission Capabilities:  Help address shortfalls in peace operations by expanding the availability and operational effectiveness of partner countries’ unit capabilities to fill mission requirements.  GPOI is currently working with 48 partner countries to help them develop 120 peacekeeping capabilities.
  • Enhance Partner Countries’ Peace Operations Planning, Training, and Readiness Competencies: Assist partner countries to enhance their capabilities to effectively plan, train, and prepare operationally ready units for peace operations and incorporate best practices to help attain or sustain partner self-sufficiency.  So far 63 percent of countries have achieved self-sufficiency in core peace operations training while active GPOI partners.  
  • Enable Partner Countries’ Capacity to Conduct Effective Operations and Sustainment:  Assist partner countries to improve the effective execution of operations and better sustain their forces and equipment while deployed.  While active GPOI partners represent 38 percent of troop contributing countries (TCCs), they deploy 61 percent of the UN’s military peacekeepers.
  • Build UN and Regional Organizations’ Performance and Accountability Frameworks:  Reinforce UN and, as relevant, regional organizations’ performance and accountability frameworks by enhancing doctrinal, training, and assessment capabilities and promoting consistent integration of lessons learned from peace operations.  For example, GPOI has funded 22 projects to help the UN develop doctrine, guidance documents, military unit manuals, and training materials, as well as to enhance military performance evaluation, execute UN training events, and provide advisory and technical assistance.

GPOI Priorities:

The following cross-cutting priorities apply across all program objectives and underlie the purpose of GPOI’s assistance activities:

  • Performance and Accountability: Commit to the highest level of peacekeeping performance by recognizing outstanding performance while holding partners accountable for underperformance and helping them to address shortfalls.
  • Safety and Security: Improve the safety and security of peacekeepers and take active and concrete measures to enhance military skills, situational awareness, camp and patrol protection, and medical response capabilities.
  • Civilian Protection: Deepen the capability of peacekeepers to support and promote the protection of civilians, which the U.S. government views as a fundamental purpose of peace operations.
  • Women, Peace, and Security: Propmote the full, equal, and meaningful participation of women in peace operations, systematically integrating a gender perspective into our work, and taking concrete measures to increase uniformed women in peacekeeping.
  • Conduct and Discipline: Engage with partners to uphold UN standards of conduct, including an emphasis on prevention of misconduct by their personnel and accountability of perpetrators if misconduct does occur.

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 Fiscal Years (FY) 2015-2017. As program implementation continues, three partner countries 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 improving security sector governance and institutional capacity. Programs include the Global Defense Reform Program, Security Force Professionalization, and Global Security Contingency Fund.

Global Defense Reform Program

The Global Defense Reform Program (GDRP) is a flexible PKO-funded program that seeks to improve security sector governance and institutional capacity of select U.S. partners at the service, ministerial, and national levels. GDRP projects aim to build the resilience of U.S. partners and their security institutions, enhance effectiveness and accountability, and better align the security sector to the needs and challenges of the partner nation and its 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 22 countries. Support includes assistance to: define roles, missions, capabilities, command and control, and force structure of national defense establishments 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.
  • 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

The Department of State is responsible for administering the Security Force Professionalization (SFP) program—a congressional directive—to increase the capacity of foreign military personnel to operate in accordance with appropriate standards relating to human rights and the protection of civilians. The PM bureau coordinates with other bureaus, the Department of Defense, and key non-government organizations to deliver this program.

SFP Objectives:

  • 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.
  • To enhance investigative capacity, transparency, and accountability of U.S. partner countries.

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 office of primary responsibility, 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. Instructions on the use of DCAS can be found here.


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, in which over 30 countries and 15 international organizations actively coordinate the international response to Somali piracy. AOD also co-chairs, with DoD, the interagency Counter Piracy Steering Group, which focuses on piracy off the coast of Somalia, in the Gulf of Guinea, within the Bay of Campeche, and in the vicinity of the Strait of Malacca.

Women, Peace, and Security (WPS)

AOD promotes WPS goals and objectives, particularly women’s meaningful participation in the security sector, through various diplomatic and programmatic efforts. AOD accelerates the mainstreaming of women’s participation and gender perspectives – especially at leadership and decision-making levels – within the security institutions of partner nations. AOD supports the bureau to address 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.

PM Contributions to Ongoing U.S. Government Policy:  AOD advances implementation of the goals and objectives of the following WPS policy documents:

  • Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) Act of 2017.
  • United States Strategy on Women, Peace, and Security (June 2019).
  • Department of State Plan to Implement the U.S. Strategy on Women, Peace, and Security (June 2020).

AOD helps to guide PM bureau contributions by focusing on the political-military aspects of the following outcomes of the Department’s Implementation Plan, as based on the lines of effort outlined in the WPS Strategy:

  1. Women around the world meaningfully participate in decision-making processes related to conflict and crises;
  2. Women and girls around the world have access to aid, and are safe from all forms of gender-based violence, abuse, and exploitation;
  3. U.S. personnel and international programs advance women’s and girls’ equality and empowerment; and
  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.

White House Gender Strategy: On March 8, 2021, President Biden released Executive Order 14020 on gender equity and equality, which mandated a comprehensive federal strategy on gender equity and equality.  The Gender Strategy will incorporate foreign policy actions from across the interagency that are likely to include two issue areas on which the PM Bureau is already strongly focused:  preventing and responding to gender-based violence, and recognizing the needs and contributions of women and girls in crisis.

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 (USCG). 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 engages 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.

U.S. Department of State

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