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Summer 2011 Civilian Response Newsletter

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Newsletter
Washington, DC
October 14, 2011


Contents

Date: 10/14/2011 Description: Cover of Summer 2011 issue of Civilian Response - Civilian Response Corps members from the U.S. Marshals Service mentor Iraqi police. - State Dept Image

- The ‘Hard Side’ of Crisis Response
- Mentoring Police in Iraq
- Making Partners in Peacebuilding
- Afghan Stability Through Regional Economic Cooperation
- Timor-Leste: Security and Jobs for Youth
- Tracking Trafficking
- Protecting Justice in Iraq
- Weaving a New Start: The Darien Initiative
- Why Civil Resistance Works
- Civilian Response Corps Member Profile: JP Moseley
- Partner Profile: U.S. Department of Agriculture
- Roots of Peace for Afghan Detainees
- Stories From the Field: Curbing Violence in Southern Sudan
- Return to Tripoli
- Building a Response Corps From Scratch


The ‘Hard Side’ of Crisis Response

By Ambassador William R. Brownfield, Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs

Date: 10/14/2011 Description: Assistant Secretary Brownfield talks to journalists at the Liberian National Police Training Academy.  - State Dept ImageWhat does it take to respond to crisis overseas? By definition, a crisis is not something you can anticipate. A response takes a multifaceted and coordinated effort. At its base, it’s inherently a security and law enforcement problem. We can’t support stabilization and development until there is security. That’s where the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) comes in.

In crisis, INL provides the hard side of the response: support for police, law enforcement, anti-narcotics, and rule of law programs. We run programs and bring the legal authority to operate, and we have a global reach, in part through Narcotics Affairs Sections and other offices in U.S. embassies around the world. Our largest programs, understandably, are in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Colombia, and Mexico, though we have nontraditional efforts in many other countries.

Our work is part of a continuum of military, police, and civilian development toward stability and growth. We support armed forces who drive out bad actors, whether guerillas or narcotraffickers. We support local law enforcement work to establish a permanent presence so that development of schools, hospitals, and roads can begin. We work with humanitarian elements, human rights elements, and other crisis responders, which allows us to be part of a larger package of support.

Perhaps the most successful example of our work comes in Colombia, where I was ambassador from 2007 to 2010. It’s perhaps the most successful foreign assistance program in which the United States has been involved in the last 40 years. There, we have worked to rid the country of drug trafficking and the FARC guerilla movement. We have also learned valuable lessons about crisis response. Each country and crisis is unique, but lessons from some can be applied to others.

Leccións de Colombia

First, we learned that this work requires a partner government that is willing to take political risks and apply its own resources. If the Colombian government had not been prepared to put its own forces at risk, we were hardly going to ask our own people and partners to do so themselves. In turn, that support made the program more appealing to our funders in Congress, and the Colombians were in a better place to step up as the security situation improved.

Second, you need international partners and the knowledge of how their rules, politics, and budgets will affect their ability to engage. After expecting social and economic development support in Colombia from Europe, we spent several years bumping into the buzzsaw of European Union realities. It was not that we disagreed fundamentally on what we were trying to accomplish, but we did not understand one another’s systems. The net result was several years of frustration that probably could have been avoided.

Third, you need flexibility. There has never been a perfect plan that required no adjustment. In Colombia, we had to do much more social and economic work than we expected in the early years. We learned that in much of the country we couldn’t do this soft-side work until there was security. We also had to have a plan that was sufficiently flexible to shift our priorities geographically as strategy and threats developed.

Finally, you need to build in some sort of endgame on which all partners, including the host government, agree. If you do not agree on the points for drawing down people and money, the endgame becomes infinitely more complicated and divisive. In Colombia, we were seeking a substantial reduction in coca cultivation and reduction in the amount of cocaine shipped to the United States, as well as to build up a permanent police and mayoral presence in the majority of communities. The process by which we are now downsizing in Colombia has been smoother than perhaps any other country where we have been engaged in a big conflict.

The Whole Package

Through the State Department’s Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, we will make our work more cooperative. It will mean that we engage in regions or countries as part of a larger package that coordinates our work with other U.S. partners, such as democracy or refugee advocates. We’re trying to coordinate resources, personnel, and missions to link up with those with whom we’d previously collaborated on an ad hoc basis. We want to be tied in with a humanitarian element, a human rights element, a crisis response element, that allow us to provide support in many different contexts. That includes the Civilian Response Corps, through which we can participate in diplomatic surges and complement their work to prevent conflict.

Our involvement in the independence of the Republic of South Sudan in July is a good example of how this cooperation works. There, we’re able to advise the new government on maintaining rule of law and a judicial and corrections system, while other U.S. offices work on conflict mitigation and prevention. We match priorities, authorities, resources and personnel in a way that delivers substantial benefit to the people and government of South Sudan and the people and government of the United States.

Today’s conflicts present many more opportunities for this collaboration, from Central America to West Africa to Central Asia. Change from the so-called Arab Spring countries is so sweeping that there will no doubt be a need to support these transitions in a positive, open, and transparent way. We don’t know exactly what role we will take, but we will act at the request and with the full support of host governments, carefully coordinating with other U.S. agencies.

There’s a dynamic tension among the U.S. groups, but it is healthy for the soft power advocates to be bumping into the hard-side implementers, and vice versa. It ensures that the work is consistent with fundamental U.S. principles and produces the best outcome for U.S. interests.

Date: 03/01/2010 Description: Back to Index - State Dept Image


Mentoring Police in Iraq

The State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization (S/CRS), the Department of Justice (DOJ), and other government agencies work closely in Iraq on rule of law programs designed to combat crime and corruption, increase transparency, and ensure effective prosecutions.

INL has been working to expand Iraq’s police, judiciary, and corrections capacities since 2003. On October 1, 2011, INL assumed the lead role in improving the capacity of the Iraqi police, building on strong foundations developed by the Department of Defense.

INL’s new, senior-level police mission, known as the Police Development Program (PDP), uses more than 100 senior-level advisors based in three hubs – Baghdad, Basrah, and Erbil. Through close coordination with the government of Iraq, the program will mentor and advise the Ministry of Interior and Iraqi Police Services, promoting a community policing model that builds partnerships between police and the communities they serve to detect and prevent crime. By developing areas most critical to a sustainable, effective, and modern internal security force, the program will hasten the day when civilian police can take the lead from the Iraqi army in providing internal security.

This newest INL effort complements other U.S. programs that focus on the courts and corrections. INL’s courts programs assist Iraq in supporting an independent, secure, and transparent judicial system. Similarly, INL’s corrections program, through partners from DOJ, has provided training and advice to the Iraqi Corrections Service. INL’s corrections program will now shift its focus from assisting with prison renovation to improving pre-trial detention operations, again via a partnership with DOJ. Meanwhile, S/CRS is deploying U.S. Marshals from DOJ to work with the Iraqi government on enhancing judicial security (see story on Protecting Justice in Iraq). Taken together, these programs will help link investigations and arrests to courtroom prosecutions and corrections, helping to support the rule of law throughout Iraq.

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Making Partners in Peacebuilding

Date: 10/14/2011 Description: Member flags fly outside the Vienna headquarters of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Secretariat.  - State Dept ImageIn May, Vienna was the site of several multilateral meetings designed to help international partners, including the United States, collaborate in helping fragile countries recover from crisis.

On May 2 and 3, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) held a workshop on post-conflict stabilization to share experiences and best practices in building peace and stability. Representing the United States, Ambassador Robert Loftis, the State Department’s acting Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization, moderated a session on international peacebuilding initiatives.

“These international partners help each other work to their strengths in conflict prevention and stabilization and help to maximize the legitimacy of our engagements,” Loftis said. “We want to share the lessons we’ve learned with developed and developing countries alike.”

Alongside this workshop, the International Stabilization and Peacebuilding Initiative (ISPI) convened its second international conference to give working-level specialists an opportunity to discuss ways to work better together in host countries. ISPI is an informal, working-level network of 15 governments, including the United States, and six international organizations that works to enhance global civilian response capacity.

Participants agreed to strengthen efforts to share information about training, exercises, recruiting and managing civilian responders, and the lessons learned from deployments. The goal is to be able to work interchangeably in host countries. The countries and organizations also discussed improving ISPI’s Stabilization and Peacebuilding Community of Practice, its online portal for practitioners, by encouraging more deployed members to contribute to its e-discussions.

Date: 03/01/2010 Description: Back to Index - State Dept Image



Afghan Stability Through Regional Economic Cooperation

Centuries ago, a trade network known as the Silk Road connected East and Central Asia with the Middle East, North Africa, and the Mediterranean. Today, the United States is supporting development of a New Silk Road, with an initial focus on Afghanistan.

“Let’s work together to create a new Silk Road,” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said in July during a speech in the Indian city of Chennai. “Not a single thoroughfare like its namesake, but an international web and network of economic and transit connections. That means building more rail lines, highways, energy infrastructure… It means upgrading the facilities at border crossings… And it certainly means removing the bureaucratic barriers and other impediments to the free flow of goods and people.”

As international donors and the United States look toward the military drawdown in Afghanistan in 2014, this effort will focus on sustainable trade and transit projects to support creating jobs, generating revenue, and building stability in Central and South Asia. This work is a priority for the Afghan people as well as the United States. Polls show that Afghans see the economy as a more serious problem than security by a two-to-one margin.

Afghanistan is part of one of the least integrated regions in the world. Through a New Silk Road, the United States can facilitate dialogue and cooperation between Afghanistan and its neighbors and leverage private and foreign investment. The United States can provide conflict assessment and economic analysis that can help link Afghan priorities with ongoing development and trade programs across the region. The Afghanistan National Development Strategy lays out a vision of Afghanistan as the center of a regional hub of economic activity and proposes projects that support this framework.

The State Department and its partners will help Afghanistan work through various regional forums to develop channels of communication and cooperation. The United States supports this effort through the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, the Bureau for South and Central Asian Affairs, and the Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization (S/CRS), which provides conflict-sensitive technical and policy expertise. S/CRS officers are directly involved in the economic analysis and strategic planning that underpin this effort. The conflict prevention and response tools that S/CRS provides will help the U.S. government support Afghanistan’s work to build mutually beneficial relationships with its neighbors.

A New Silk Road has the potential to energize the Afghan economy through this transitional period, address insecurity, and build regional trade. It can also reinforce the political dialogue in Afghanistan and across the region toward a durable and just peace.

Date: 03/01/2010 Description: Back to Index - State Dept Image



Timor-Leste: Security and Jobs for Youth

“Where do we start in a brand-new country?” asked State Department law enforcement expert Walter Redman after a recent trip to the Southeast Asian nation of Timor-Leste. Redman found a local police force facing enormous challenges. In a country less than ten years old, the Timorese police need training in everything from logistics to vehicle maintenance, from investigatory skills to community policing. The performance of the police is critical to the success of national elections and the departure of UN peacekeepers in 2012.

Timor-Leste is a country born out of tremendous conflict. The country went through a brutal 24-year struggle for independence from Indonesia, followed in 2006 by the collapse of law and order, and in 2008 by assassination attempts against its president and prime minister. Recognized by the United Nations in 2002, Timor-Leste remains a fragile state. UN police completed the transfer of executive law enforcement authority to the National Police of Timor-Leste only in March.

The country now faces a critical transition as it prepares for elections, a new government, and the drawdown of UN peacekeeping forces in 2012. The stakes are high for this country strategically located between Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim country, and Australia.

Redman traveled to Timor-Leste in March 2011 as a member of the Civilian Response Corps, helping to plan a U.S.-funded program aimed at strengthening the police and training youth for jobs. His recommendations helped strengthen the plan, which is now under way through State, USAID, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, and NGOs, all coordinated through the U.S. Embassy in Dili to ensure cooperation with other actors on the ground.

During his visit, Redman was pleased to see that the country had plans to strengthen its police force in a wide range of areas, including addressing human trafficking, drug smuggling, maritime security, and the environment. “I wanted to see local plans that went beyond equipment,’” Redman said. “I was very heartened to see that they were there.”

The U.S. program’s many components aim to improve policing and criminal justice and involve youth in the effort. The latter element is especially important in a country with a disproportionate number of young people, where each year 15-20,000 new workers compete for 500 new private-sector jobs. The $11.8 million program is funded under a provision of law known as 1207 authority, which supports programs that protect national security and draw from agencies across the U.S. government to address urgent, unanticipated problems in partnership with host countries.

The community policing component, implemented by the Asia Foundation through USAID, expands an earlier pilot project to decentralize the police force and establish community councils to foster dialogue between the police and civil society. Additionally, the State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs is administering funding for U.S. work to train police on investigations, in coordination with similar work by the Australian Federal Police. Experts from the Atlanta Police Department plan to arrive soon. Other components of the program, administered by both USAID and State, will strengthen the local police’s logistics and disciplinary system, improve its maritime and border security capabilities, and enhance civil society oversight.

Redman’s trip was part of a planning process that began in 2010 when the United States conducted an Interagency Conflict Assessment Framework (ICAF) study, which helped identify sources of grievance and strength in the country. Redman, who is now back in Washington at INL, says he was a small part in what will now be a government-wide effort to support stability in Timor-Leste.

Date: 03/01/2010 Description: Back to Index - State Dept Image



Tracking Trafficking

A U.S. report identified 33,000 new victims of human trafficking worldwide in 2010 and says that an estimated 27 million men, women, and children remain exploited. The 11th annual U.S. Trafficking in Persons Report, released this summer, assesses 184 governments, including the United States, on their efforts to combat trafficking.

Over the years, the annual report has helped push some governments to address the problem. “What we’ve seen in the last 10 years… is a decade of progress in developing the tools that have been prescribed by what we call the 3P paradigm – the three Ps of prevention, protection, and prosecution,” said Ambassador-at-Large Luis CdeBaca, who heads the department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. “In the last decade… almost 130 countries have enacted legislation prohibiting all forms of human trafficking.”

In the Philippines, for example, the government prosecuted 25 offenders in 2010, compared to nine in the previous year, and more cases have been taken up against Philippine officials. Judicial and law enforcement officers are getting trained to recognize and combat trafficking. In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the government established a special court to focus on sex trafficking and increased the number of prosecutions in the last year.

However, problems still persist in these and other countries, the report says. The UAE has not yet established a court to address forced labor, for example. The report recommends improving data collection on trafficking at all levels of government, increasing victim identification training for law enforcement officers, and increasing training for consular officers to reduce the vulnerabilities in student and worker visa programs.

This year’s report focuses on how governments can move to adopt the minimum standards to fight trafficking in persons. “The report itself is a tool, and what we’re most interested in is working with countries around the world and working across our own government to get results,” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton remarked at the report’s release.

“Modern slavery – be it bonded labor, involuntary servitude, or sexual slavery – is a crime and cannot be tolerated in any culture, community, or country … [It] is an affront to our values and our commitment to human rights.”
– Hillary Rodham Clinton,
Secretary of State

Date: 10/14/2011 Description: Cover of the 11th annual U.S. Trafficking in Persons Report.  - State Dept Image

Date: 03/01/2010 Description: Back to Index - State Dept Image


Protecting Justice in Iraq

Last spring, insurgents attacked a convoy carrying the head of the Baghdad Provincial Council with an improvised explosive device and small arms. The security detail protecting the convoy fought its way out of the situation. But of the seven-member team, only two could drive. They lacked weapons and tactical training.

Not long after the attack, the team members found themselves in a new training program, established under the U.S. Embassy Baghdad through its Rule of Law Coordinator. In two weeks, they learned some of the basics: firearms training, checkpoint security, evasive driving, and first aid. At the graduation ceremony, they told their instructors that they would make good use of what they had learned.

“You could see their reaction,” said one instructor, Mark Shealey, a chief inspector at the U.S. Marshals Service. “They understood that what we were teaching them was going to save lives.”

Attacks to intimidate politicians and judges presiding over terrorism trials have been all too common in Iraq. Courthouse security and personal protection, drawn from the ranks of police and untrained contractors, have not always been up to the job. In February, the U.S. Marshals sent Shealey and fellow Chief Inspector Max Delo to Iraq to assess the situation and set up a training program aimed at enabling Iraqi partners to address the problems they themselves have identified.

When the Marshals arrived, they found a lack of structured training and requirements for the protective services. In meetings with Iraq’s independent judiciary, known as the Higher Judicial Council, and the Ministry of Justice, they learned what was needed most. They also drew on earlier U.S. surveys of courthouse security and structure around the country.

“The key was to be flexible,” Delo said. “We went in with open eyes, open ears, and met with all people needed, on the Iraqi and the U.S. sides.” The Marshals knew that the flexible technical support they could provide could go a long way to help support the Iraqis and build their capacity.

Shealey and Delo went about adapting lessons from the U.S. Marshals Academy to the Iraqi context, getting lessons and PowerPoints translated into Arabic and adapted to Iraqi culture. Other agencies, like the U.S. Department of Justice’s International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program, or ICITAP, and the State Department’s Regional Security Office, contributed funds, equipment, and local know-how.

Perhaps most importantly, they designed a program that could be handed over quickly to the Iraqis. “We expected them to teach it; we emphasized the importance of sustaining the training,” Delo said. “These are perishable skills.”

The Iraqis have already impressed their teachers by setting up a security committee to coordinate issues between the ministries that handle prisoners, judicial security, and police.

The first training began in April with a class of 15 and ran three weeks. The students learned to find “bombs” planted on vehicles, how to rescue people from a vehicle under attack, and how to retreat tactically. The Ministry of Justice and the Higher Judicial Council picked the students from the ranks of high-level Iraqi security advisers and instructors, those who could train others.

In the second round of training, the former students became teachers, cutting the class down to two weeks because it no longer had to rely on interpreters. Twenty-five Iraqis are now qualified to teach the course. Eventually, the program aims to teach basic skills to 1,000 members of the protective service. The Higher Judicial Council instructors have already started their own program based on the training they received.

The training also brought together the Higher Judicial Council and the Ministry of Justice, which oversees prisons, who often operate side by side but without coordination. The Justice Ministry’s National Corrections Training Center, in a secluded area outside of Baghdad, provided an ideal location for the mock ambushes, driving tests, and weapons training.

Though the programs operate on a shoestring, sometimes borrowing ammunition and armored vehicles from other agencies, Delo and Shealey had them up and running in just a few months. When they returned to the United States in August, they handed over supervision to a new pair of Deputy U.S. Marshals who are looking to expand the program to basic law enforcement and the handling and transport of prisoners.

Delo, Shealey, and their successors deployed to Iraq as part of the Civilian Response Corps, a group of experts drawn from across the U.S. government and sent abroad to work on conflict prevention and stabilization. Shealey has been a Deputy Marshal for nearly 30 years and brought extensive experience as an instructor in firearms, driving, investigations, tactics, and administration. Delo, a former Army Ranger and sergeant in the Savannah, Ga., police department, has operated protection details for high-level U.S. officials and led fugitive investigations, witness protection, and prisoner transport operations.

The Iraqi judiciary still faces its share of challenges. Intimidation of judges and witnesses, including regular attacks, has led to long delays in trials and the release of thousands of prisoners. To strengthen impartial and fair justice, the courts must be able to work free from intimidation and reprisal from terrorists and other bad actors. As the U.S. military departs, security will fall entirely to the Iraqis. But Delo and Shealey see many reasons for hope. “I’m optimistic,” Shealey said. “I think it’s heading in the right direction.”

The program was designed to be handed over quickly to the Iraqis. “We expected them to teach it.”

Date: 10/14/2011 Location: Iraq Description: U.S. Marshal Max Delo reviews students' accuracy at the firing range.  © U.S. Marshals Service Image
U.S. Marshal Max Delo reviews students' accuracy at the firing range.
Date: 10/14/2011 Location: Iraq Description: Security instructors stage a mock attack on a vehicle convoy. © U.S. Marshals Service Image
Security instructors stage a mock attack on a vehicle convoy.
Date: 10/14/2011 Location: Iraq Description: Iraqi students inspect vehicles for explosive devices at the start of each training session. © U.S. Marshals Service Image
Iraqi students inspect vehicles for explosive devices at the start of each training session.
Date: 10/14/2011 Location: Iraq Description: Students shield a potential target during an attack simulation. © U.S. Marshals Service Image
Students shield a potential target during an attack simulation.
Date: 10/14/2011 Location: Iraq Description: Graduates of the first judicial security class display their certificates of completion. Students from the first class went on to become instructors for the following groups of students.  © U.S. Marshals Service Image
Graduates of the first judicial security class display their certificates of completion. Students from the first class went on to become instructors for the following groups of students.

Date: 03/01/2010 Description: Back to Index - State Dept Image


Weaving a New Start: The Darien Initiative

By Sara Mangiaracina, Conflict Prevention Officer in S/CRS and Standby member of the Civilian Response Corps

The women of Alto Playona in the Darien region of Panama are talented artisans. They weave colorful designs into their basketry and carve beautiful woodwork, all done by hand with great attention to detail. After a woman spends two to three months weaving a basket, however, she sells it to a middleman for a fraction of the price it would command in Panama City, half a country away.

The isolation of the Darien, a vital and unique area of Panama situated along its border with Colombia, does not only make it hard to access markets; it also breeds security concerns. Members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and other criminal organizations have sought out the region, the only impassable section of the Pan-American Highway that runs from Alaska to Argentina, as a safe haven. In 2008, the government of Panama formed a new border protection force, known as SENAFRONT, to secure the area. The United States is working with Panama on its efforts to address the threat in the Darien and to promote economic growth that will consolidate the gains in stability.

In the spring of 2009, at the request of the U.S. Embassy in Panama City, a small team from the Department of State’s Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization joined the senior country team to facilitate an interagency assessment of the Embassy’s approach to dealing with the deteriorating security situation in the Darien. From this discussion, the Embassy created a program born out of a mutual recognition by the United States and the government of Panama of the need for an established government presence in the Darien region. The $4.95 million, three-year project is funded through a program known as 1207, which draws from agencies across the U.S. and host governments to address urgent, unanticipated national security problems.

In coordination with the government of Panama, the program includes four elements, all of which fall under the umbrella of denying the FARC and other criminal groups a safe haven. The first element aims to improve government services and assistance programs that work with indigenous communities, civil society, international organizations, and NGOs in the Darien. The second element provides small grants to communities for youth programs and scholarships to improve quality of life and deter youth recruitment into criminal organizations. The third element supports SENAFRONT, the border protection force, by creating a training complex and providing medical and navigation training as well as material support for deployments. The fourth element centers on an information campaign to encourage the FARC to demobilize.

Thanks to the Panamanian efforts that our programs supported, the situation in Darien is dramatically different than it was two years ago. In particular, SENAFRONT has made great strides in denying safe haven to FARC operatives, which was the FARC’s primary drug trafficking corridor until recently.

Success in the Darien is all about working closely with the Darien people. I met the women of Alto Playona at a town hall meeting in the Darien, where I traveled in August to see the effects of the program on their lives. I learned that other members of the village had traveled to another town to attend university to study primary education or learn vocational trades, and were planning to return to Alto Playona to use their newfound skills. A few had already come back to work on constructing office space for the community. Some of the men have joined SENAFRONT, whose patrols take them away from home for an extended period of time, but whose salaries provide an economic boost to the area.

Alto Playona’s women artisans, however, wanted to know how to make the U.S.-Panama program have a more direct impact on their lives. Working with our implementing partners, we discussed with the women how they could form an association and design a business plan that would allow them to sell their own wares in Panama City. Several details have to be worked out, but this October, I hope there is a new stall at the National Artisans Fair in Panama City, and the women of Alto Playona will be selling their own work for a fair price. This is only part of the work that the Embassy and other U.S. offices are doing to support stability in the region.

“Success in the Darien is all about working closely with the Darien people.”

Date: 10/14/2011 Location: Panama Description: Artisans from the Darien weave colorful baskets and carve wooden figures by hand with great attention to detail. The U.S.-Panama program offers artisans an opportunity to develop a business plan and apply for a small grant in an effort to gain greater access to markets. - State Dept Image
Artisans from the Darien weave colorful baskets and carve wooden figures by hand with great attention to detail. The U.S.-Panama program offers artisans an opportunity to develop a business plan and apply for a small grant in an effort to gain greater access to markets.

Date: 10/14/2011 Location: Panama Description: The community center in Yaviza provides students with a space for learning. Scholarship recipients also tutor students at the center as part of a community service component of their program.  © USAID Image
The community center in Yaviza provides students with a space for learning. Scholarship recipients also tutor students at the center as part of a community service component of their program.

Date: 10/14/2011 Location: Panama Description: Graduates from scholarship programs at the Darien campus of the National Institute for Professional Development and Training return to their community with new skills. The U.S.-Panama program funds local infrastructure projects that employ these graduates.  - State Dept Image
Graduates from scholarship programs at the Darien campus of the National Institute for Professional Development and Training return to their community with new skills. The U.S.-Panama program funds local infrastructure projects that employ these graduates.

Date: 03/01/2010 Description: Back to Index - State Dept Image


Why Civil Resistance Works

Maria J. Stephan is a strategic planner in the Department of State's Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization (S/CRS). She has written extensively on nonviolent resistance, especially in the Middle East. She served at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul from November 2009 to April 2011. Before joining S/CRS, she served as director of policy and research at the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict and as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University and American University. She has also been a fellow at the Kennedy School of Government’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.
The views expressed here are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the U.S. Department of State or the U.S. Government.

Date: 10/14/2011 Description: Crowd demonstrating © Maud Talêque / Fotolia

Q: Can you define civil resistance, and how it differs from nonviolence?

A: Civil resistance is a method of struggle that involves nonviolent tactics—including protests, demonstrations, boycotts, sit-ins, civil disobedience, creation of parallel structures—that ordinary people can use to defend human rights, advance democratic goals, resist foreign occupation, fight for environmental rights, women’s rights, all different purposes. Often civil resistance can involve very confrontational or disruptive actions, often putting oneself at great risk. Most people who engage in civil resistance are not pacifists and would perhaps use arms if they thought that it would be more effective.

Q: Your research finds that, contrary to popular belief, the Middle East has a long tradition of civil resistance. Why have some of the Arab Spring uprisings succeeded while others have not?

A: There is no simple answer, but opposition unity, planning, and discipline are critical to the success of nonviolent campaigns, particularly against formidable foes. Regime repression or ethnic and tribal divisions are obstacles, but there is scant evidence that these are decisive. The Egyptians’ familiarity with methods and strategies of nonviolent resistance has grown since 2005, when they launched the broad-based Kefaya campaign. They learned from nonviolent struggles in places like Serbia, South Africa, the Philippines, Burma. These activists are increasingly meeting each other, trading materials, organizing.

In Syria, the opposition has managed to persist with nonviolent resistance despite an amazing amount of repression, using a wide range of tactics including protests, humor, sit-ins by lawyers, graffiti, limited boycotts. Although the temptation to use violence exists, most Syrians know that armed struggle would play to the regime’s strengths.

Q: How does that contrast with Arab Spring conflicts that turned violent?

A: Often people assume that nonviolent resistance takes a longer time to succeed than armed struggle. But compare Egypt and Tunisia to Libya. Many people would say that because the Libyan regime was so brutal that civil resistance didn’t stand a chance. But there are many other forms of noncooperation that are less risky than open protest.

Once the Libyans turned to armed struggle they became a lot more dependent on outside forces. That poses a number of problems in terms of owning your revolution, in terms of command and control. Foreign military backing does not necessarily guarantee quick victory.

Q: Your research finds that nonviolent campaigns have succeeded almost twice as often as armed campaigns over the last 100 years. What are some of the reasons behind that?

A: One of the main reasons is that they’re typically able to attract a much larger, broader base of participants. When large numbers of people stop cooperating, it increases the pressure against the opponent, whether it is a regime or foreign occupation. You can see a movement gaining strength when you see people protest who would not normally protest, like doctors, lawyers, businesspeople. Building unity within the opposition is often half the battle in these struggles.

The essence of civil resistance is how you strip away a regime’s sources of political, economic, diplomatic, and security support. If an opposition is unable to do that, it is unlikely they will succeed. It is very difficult for regimes to indefinitely suppress a determined and organized group of people when their resistance is widespread and involves many tactics that keep the opponent off guard.

We’ve also found that nonviolent campaigns are more likely to prompt defections in the security forces, which is key to their success. If you’re being shot at you’re less likely to think about what the opposition wants, much less joining them. But civil resistance gives a soldier a chance to change sides and think about how they might be involved in the future of the country.

It’s really up to the opposition leaders to adapt tactics to various circumstances. That cannot be decided from outside or imposed by foreign actors. You can share lessons from other struggles and teach people how to apply strategic principles, but success and failure is determined by the ingenuity of the opposition in these countries.

Q: Why do these movements sometimes fail?

A: It’s generally because they fail to build this kind of broad-based movement. They remain small; they remain underground, unable to communicate, unable to bring in the non-hardcore activists. A lot of movements fail when they re¬ly on one tactic – like street protests. People get fatigued, they don’t see progress, they stop. Leaders need to know how to maintain momentum, how to declare small victories on the way to larger victories, and explain why they should not do what the opponent wants them to do, which is use violence.

Q: You have argued that political transitions driven by principally nonviolent means are far more likely to result in civil peace and democracy than transitions driven by armed struggles. Why?

A: The skills involved in civil resistance — negotiation, coalition building, developing a vision of tomorrow —are skills that are conducive to building a democracy. Successful nonviolent campaigns establish political rules that tend to discourage recourse to violence. In armed struggle you’re building a lot of enemies, and a lot of mistrust, and you’re killing people whose allies are probably going to try to kill you after the transition.

Q: What role can outside actors like the United States play?

A: Outsiders can play important supporting roles, anything from backing opposition leaders and dissidents, to marching in solidarity with peaceful protestors, to sanctions that target key regime brutes and their families. The Diplomat’s Handbook for Democracy Development Support, a Community of Democracies product endorsed by the State Department, provides an incredibly useful toolkit that embassies and diplomats can use to support human rights defenders and civil society. These tactics can help, but success comes only when led from within the country.

The views expressed here are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the U.S. Department of State or the U.S. Government.

Date: 03/01/2010 Description: Back to Index - State Dept Image


Civilian Response Corps Member Profile: JP Moseley

Date: 10/14/2011 Location: Afghanistan Description: Civilian Response Corps member JP Moseley (right) and a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol colleague (left), pictured with the Assistant Director for the Afghan Customs Department (center), help install a baggage x-ray machine at the Afghan Customs and Revenue Headquarters as a means to increase the building's security.  - State Dept ImageWhen Civilian Response Corps duty called, JP Moseley answered. Moseley, a special agent at the Department of Homeland Security, deployed to Afghanistan for the Corps in December 2010 on 48 hours notice.

When he arrived in Kabul, Moseley assisted a U.S. Customs and Border Protection team working with Afghanistan’s Border Management Task Force to train the Afghan Border Police. The task force is a joint effort of the U.S. Defense Department’s Counter Narcotics office and the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection office, operating under the U.S. Embassy. “The task force was responsible for helping Afghanistan not only secure its borders but also develop its infrastructure to support incoming and outgoing cargo,” Moseley said. “My customs and border experience really came into play in Kabul.”

Moseley’s three months in country showed the value of developing local relationships to do sustainable work. “Building trust with our Afghan colleagues took time,” he said. “It wasn’t something you could do in two or three visits or even two or three months. It was when we got to know each other that projects really started to move forward.”

Moseley’s team worked with the Afghan police to identify explosives being smuggled into the country and assisted the Afghan government’s work to develop customs and trade law. He also helped coordinate the establishment of the Afghan Advanced Border Management Academy, the country’s first program to provide high-level border security training.

All together, these experiences added up to the most challenging and rewarding work of his career with the Department of Homeland Security, where he has worked since 2002, Moseley said.

Moseley’s public service career predates DHS, however. He worked as a paramedic in Hopkins County, Texas, and as a police officer in the town of Sulphur Springs, Texas. He rose to become a narcotics sergeant and also served on active duty and as a Reserve U.S. Navy Corpsman for 10 years.

This combination of skills and expertise made Moseley an ideal candidate for the Civilian Response Corps. You can learn how your skills might apply overseas at www.CivilianResponseCorps.gov.

Date: 03/01/2010 Description: Back to Index - State Dept Image


Partner Profile: U.S. Department of Agriculture

For many countries, agriculture provides the cornerstone of a viable market economy and a powerful force for stability, which is why the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is an active part of the civilian response efforts overseas. Lack of food security can create instability in both urban and rural communities. Instability can cut off trade routes and close markets, jacking up food prices and stalling the economy, driving more people into poverty and toward malign actors. Low farm productivity and lack of infrastructure, land rights for the rural population and access to markets, loans, tools, and skills can worsen fragile security. Agriculture puts people to work and produces goods that are catalysts for sustainable growth. In fragile states, agriculture can be part of a virtuous cycle that helps communities and economies improve.

USDA has a vast array of experts across 17 agencies and 109 land grant universities that can address conflict prevention, economic development, rule of law, safe and secure environment, and governance.

In addition to providing technical expertise, a subtle but valuable contribution USDA makes toward helping a host nation create a stable and secure environment is through agriculture’s ability to connect a government and its people. Whether through extension, education, or price supports and grant programs, USDA knows how to help information and technology flow from the central government to the local people and back, creating a true rapport and building capacity and faith in government. USDA can transfer this knowledge to fit the needs of other governments struggling to connect with their constituents, especially in rural and agricultural communities.

Recent USDA Contributions to Stabilization and Security

Date: 10/14/2011 Description: Place setting © Richard Cote / Fotolia

Food Security
The top non-security priority in Afghanistan. USDA work includes support for commodity markets, food supply chain management, family nutrition programs, agricultural development, and a regulatory system that complies with international standards.

Date: 10/14/2011 Description: Airplane flying over United States © HL / Fotolia, Alex White / Fotolia

Expert Support In-Country
In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, USDA experts studied food security and agriculture as part of a multi-sector analysis that led to recommendations for both the host government and the U.S. embassy’s strategic planning.

Date: 10/14/2011 Description: @ symbol over United States © Alex White / Fotolia

Expert Support from the United States
Subject-matter experts at land-grant universities have served as virtual agriculture extension agents online around the world. On behalf of the Department of Defense, USDA is developing an Internet portal connecting military units with land grant universities.

Date: 10/14/2011 Description: Wheat © Alexandr Dolgolenko / Fotolia

Agribusiness Development
Roughly a dozen Army National Guard agribusiness development teams rotate through the states in Afghanistan. Each team has a USDA agricultural advisor who serves as a sounding board on civilian-military coordination.

Date: 10/14/2011 Description: Alarm bell © elenasuslova / Fotolia

Emergency Response
USDA’s Forest Service, working with USAID, assists the U.S. government’s international efforts to develop incident command systems to structure and coordinate responses to emergencies.

Date: 10/14/2011 Description: Plant growing from book © Kumer / Fotolia

Agriculture Training
USDA experts deployed with the Civilian Response Corps established a vocational agriculture training program for detainees in Afghanistan that includes an operational greenhouse, orchard, vineyard, and beekeeping program. (See story on Roots of Peace for Afghan Detainees.)

Date: 03/01/2010 Description: Back to Index - State Dept Image



Roots of Peace for Afghan Detainees

Not far from the dusty Afghan capital of Kabul, you can find two acres of green farmland, full of grape vines, apple and peach trees, watermelons, and tomatoes. The farm is largely tended by Afghan detainees, who are learning skills like drip irrigation, trellising, and soil preparation as part of a U.S. program to help the country reintegrate detainees into society.

The farm exists thanks to the sweat of two experts from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the many partners they found in Afghanistan when they deployed there as part of the U.S. Civilian Response Corps. Subject-matter experts from the Corps are working with Afghans to develop programs to teach skills like literacy and tailoring. The hands-on training detainees receive can provide them confidence and ways to be meaningful contributors to Afghanistan’s development once they are released. As the U.S. military draws down, U.S. officials can hand over care and reintegration of detainees completely to local partners.

This iteration of the farm program began in May 2010, when Jim Conley, a former agricultural Extension Agent with Colorado State University, arrived. The farm plot at his disposal was two acres of hard-packed dirt on a former construction site with no water, and the Afghan teachers had little in the way of a curriculum.

Conley set out to build the program, drawing on MacGyver-like skills to piece together an elegant solution from the parts he found. Networking through contacts Conley made during a year spent as a USDA liaison in Iraq, he found a curriculum that had been drawn up by Purdue University, the University of Kabul and an NGO, and approved by the Afghan Ministry of Education. Then Conley found another NGO that had translated the English version into both Pashto and Dari, in order to introduce it to Afghan high schools. A chance conversation with agriculture experts from the Kentucky National Guard Agri-Business Development Team on Thanksgiving led Conley to funding to buy the curriculum. In January 2011, the classroom component, complete with lesson plans, tests, and teacher development material, was up and running, taught by two Afghans.

On the first day of class, when teachers who had never before used a computer pulled up the first lesson on a laptop hooked up to a big screen, the mood in the room grew excited. “It was amazing to see the change in the detainees when they had pictures to help them understand the concepts being taught. The looks on their faces told me that they were totally engaged” Conley said.

Out on the farm, Conley set his students to work in the newly-constructed hoop greenhouse and breaking up the hard soil with picks. Most were farmers, Conley said, but lacked ways to increase productivity. Conley taught deep soil preparation, showed how to build a drip irrigation system, and found compost for fertilizer. The same Kentucky National Guard group helped set up a beekeeping program to produce honey, a valued commodity in Afghanistan.

Conley’s next partnership was a California-based NGO called Roots of Peace, which runs farm programs across Afghanistan with funding from USAID and other donors. Roots of Peace provided the farm’s burgeoning vineyards with over 200 grape plants and materials for trellises, which can double grape yields. It also provided over 50 peach and apple trees for the farm’s orchard and brought other materials such as fertilizer, tools, and educational materials.

No less importantly, Roots of Peace helps fulfill one of the program’s major objectives: an exit strategy. Once the farm is fully operational, Roots of Peace, which employs hundreds of Afghan farmers, can take over and help make it commercial. “The experience really pointed out to me that the ability to build partnerships was critical to meeting the objectives of the mission,” Conley said. “And I found these partnerships in places I least expected.”

By March, Conley was set to return to the United States and his replacement, David Greaser, a longtime Farm Service Agency officer in Pennsylvania, had arrived. It was time to plant and harvest, and the detainees enjoyed eating their share of tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots and watermelon as they went through lessons at the farm site. “They told me jokingly, ‘let’s just plant watermelons’” because of the lack of fresh fruits in the area, Greaser said. The food also goes to detainees’ families – about one ton has been delivered so far.

Within a few weeks, Greaser was showing up late for class to see how the teachers would work on their own. He was pleased with the results. “We want the detainees to look to the teachers, not me, for guidance,” he said.

As the summer wore on, Greaser taught the detainees how to care for vegetables and propagate roses. The language barrier remained a challenge, but extra work with the interpreter and teachers made the job easier. Two classes of 15 detainees each met twice each week, once in the classroom and once on the farm.

As Afghanistan rebuilds, Greaser hopes that farmers and contractors will look to hire detainees with real farm experience, and that the Ministry of Agriculture will be able to support similar training in the provinces. The government, he said, will take over teaching at the detention facility where he works now.

Already, though, Greaser has heard of some positive results from the certificates that the U.S. presents at the end of the program. “One detainee, when he got out, showed his U.S. certificate to a businessman,” he said. “The businessman said: ‘you’ve been trained by the U.S. in agriculture? We’ll hire you right away.’”

Date: 10/14/2011 Location: Afghanistan Description: A field of grape vines cultivated by detainees.  © DoD Image
A field of grape vines cultivated by detainees.

Date: 10/14/2011 Location: Afghanistan Description: U.S. trainers, an Afghan teacher and and a translator pause for a photo during training on how to install grape trellises.  © DoD Image
U.S. trainers, an Afghan teacher and and a translator pause for a photo during training on how to install grape trellises. Left to right: Jahad, an Afghan teacher; Francisco, representative of U.S. NGO Roots for Peace; Messiah, the translator; Latifullah, another teacher; David Greaser, USDA trainer.

Date: 10/14/2011 Location: Afghanistan Description: Afghan beekeeper Walik shows visiting U.S. Army Gen. Keith Huber, accompanied by USDA trainer David Greaser, how to find the queen bee.  © DoD Image
Afghan beekeeper Walik shows visiting U.S. Army Gen. Keith Huber, accompanied by USDA trainer David Greaser, how to find the queen bee.

Date: 03/01/2010 Description: Back to Index - State Dept Image



Stories From the Field: Curbing Violence in Southern Sudan

By James Patton, Active member of the Civilian Response Corps

In the westernmost corner of Lakes State, in southern Sudan, I paid a visit to the state Advisor for Peace and Security in the town of Cuiebet. It was October 2010, and Lakes, the birthplace of the region’s independence movement, would soon vote with the rest of southern Sudan to separate from the North in January’s referendum on self-determination. I visited, however, to discuss cattle-raiding, which was proving to be the most intractable security problem. The easy availability of firearms was making the longstanding practice much more deadly.

“Last year,” the advisor recounted, “there were over 300 cattle-raid revenge killings.” Now, however, hundreds of people gathered fearlessly in tin-roofed, wood-plank shops, drinking beer and soda and buying goat meat from makeshift grills. I had been seeking ways that locals had brought down the violence to see if these methods might be spread and solidified after the referendum. It was part of my work over the seven months I spent in Sudan along with dozens of other members of the U.S. Civilian Response Corps from USAID and the departments of State, Justice, and Commerce. We gathered information from local government and civil society and reported stability concerns to the U.S. Consulate in the southern capital of Juba. We traveled by U.S. and UN puddle jumpers and four-wheel drive vehicles alongside experienced NGO staff that had been there for years.

Building a presence in remote parts of Sudan takes time, but our regular visits helped establish trust and credibility. We were able to gain insights into issues such as oil, cattle, ethnic tensions, and access to water that were critical to building sustainable peace and stability. Our analysis helped shape our policies in Juba and Washington, and identified ways that USAID or other partners can act.

The drop in violence proved that there are local solutions to these conflicts. The stabilization teams help to find these methods and promote them. During my stay, my colleagues and I pressed local officials to pursue cross-border roads, expand access to water, and address conflicts over rights to land for South Sudanese returning home. We alerted fellow U.S. officials to corruption, militia violence, and ways to connect efforts within the U.S. government to help improve local governance. Most importantly, we sought to support Sudanese efforts to channel conflict toward peaceful, legal resolution by connecting the young government and its citizens.

In Lakes State, the locals spoke of the referendum as a unifying force that boosted a sense of national identity and decreased violence. A day and a half travel south of Cuiebet, in Wulu County, I found a different peacemaking tool.

There, in a one-room office, with a tiny fan providing slight respite from the heat, I asked how the county commissioner had succeeded in disrupting cycles of violence. “Special Border Courts,” the commissioner explained. “I agree to hold cattle and perpetrators of cattle-raids until local chiefs adjudicate on behalf of the communities.” He dug in his school-desk drawer for a document. “The Customary Law Act allows the Chief Justice to delegate judicial authority to local chiefs for a specified time.”

A few months after the vote, seasonal migration began and fights over cattle and water began to get out of control. The violence was threatening to spread, giving fodder to anti-government militias and undermining the perception of national unity following the vote for independence.

I went back to meet with the Minister for Local Law Enforcement in Lakes State and encouraged him to consider using the Special Courts framework as a way to maintain order in areas prone to seasonal conflict. As it stood, the courts could be set up only after violence and an onerous amount of paperwork, depending largely on the initiative of each county commissioner. But the courts, as standing bodies, could integrate customary and statutory law, building confidence between local traditions and new legal structures. They would reduce retributive violence and re-empower chiefs, who could then seek to rein in armed youth, whose senseless deaths in raids only served to set back the work of building the new country.

In the weeks that followed, councils of chiefs, county commissioners, and local ministers all got behind the courts as part of improving communication, cooperation, and stability across state and ethnic borders. The government established a Special Court to respond to violent raids in a border area between Lakes State and Western Equatoria State, providing an increasingly important buffer for chronic violent conflict. Although not established in advance of the violence, the Court quickly began its work to mitigate conflicts. It was just one way in which we helped support local ideas that can lead to broader peace.

Date: 03/01/2010 Description: Back to Index - State Dept Image


Return to Tripoli

Date: 10/14/2011 Location: Libya Description: Ambassador Cretz stands at the podium during the flag raising ceremony in Tripoli.  - State Dept ImageOn Sept. 22, U.S. Ambassador to Libya Gene Cretz raised the American flag and resumed Embassy operations in Tripoli. Almost seven months had passed since the United States suspended operations and evacuated in the wake of mounting violence. In the interim, the United Nations had condemned the crumbling regime of Muammar Qaddafi, NATO forces and Transitional National Council (TNC) rebels attacked Qaddafi strongholds, and, eventually, the TNC marched into Tripoli.

While credit for this sweeping move toward democracy in Libya goes to the rebels and their international partners, U.S. civilian responders did much behind the scenes to ensure that the United States was in position to assist, respond, and, when the time came, return to Tripoli. These were no small feats of logistics and planning in an unstable and quickly changing part of the world.

The United States left its Embassy in Tripoli on Feb. 25, but the U.S. was not absent from the area for long. In March, a 15-person USAID Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) traveled to Tunisia and Egypt to assess humanitarian needs and coordinate efforts to respond. By the end of the month, more than 20 countries formed a Contact Group to coordinate efforts and plan for post-Qaddafi Libya. The group provided an important mechanism for engaging and funding the TNC, which led up to the United States recognizing the TNC as Libya’s legitimate government on July 15.

On April 5, U.S. Special Envoy Chris Stevens and a small team from State arrived in Benghazi, the rebel stronghold. In Washington, the United States convened an interagency planning effort to look at how the U.S. could best support the fledgling TNC efforts, drawing some 150 people from a dozen U.S. agencies. They looked at how to provide support in the stabilization period lasting through the fall of Qaddafi; the “golden hour” of 30-45 days after Qaddafi’s fall; and the 12-18 month period that follows, a crucial time to establish a new government. The plans helped the United States integrate its work with the United Nations, the United Kingdom, the European Union, and other partners to create a unique multilateral effort. All the partners could come together to share knowledge about security, infrastructure, and humanitarian needs with relative ease.

Back in Washington, U.S. officials from the Embassy in Tripoli established an embassy-in-exile to continue engaging Libyans on a daily basis and supporting the Special Envoy. The State Department established a Libya task force to coordinate all of the incoming information. Then the TNC stood up its own planning team, based in eight cities but headquartered in Dubai. A U.S. team of planners from State and USAID traveled to Dubai in early July to provide best practices and issues to consider with the Libyan planners.

“We wanted to start right away with the TNC and civil society groups to help them manage this transition so that they’re ready for what comes next,” said Ciara Knudsen, a planner with State’s Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization (S/CRS). Knudsen and her S/CRS colleagues brought experience in interagency planning for stabilization in complex crises from Afghanistan and elsewhere. (continued on page 23)

In Benghazi, USAID transition advisors participated in a British-led assessment team’s work to identify sources of strength and threats to stability as the effort moved toward political transition. In early August, USAID’s Office of Transition Initiatives initiated a program to support Libyan civil society, media, and interim authorities’ work toward stability and transition.

At the end of August, Tripoli finally and rapidly fell. The night the city went to the rebels, the U.S. planning team met to plan in Dubai with TNC leaders in their operations center to track the progress of the campaign and plan next steps.

For several weeks, State Department officials had gathered to plan how the U.S. would move back into Tripoli. In May, a mob ransacked and destroyed the abandoned U.S. Embassy, so the Department had to start from scratch to find secure, functional workspace.

The job involved finding and leasing apartment and office space, furniture, beds, vehicles, drivers, food and water, computers and communications equipment, and security to protect it all. By that time, the Embassy had been officially disbanded, and many of its Foreign Service officers had moved on to other posts. Some of the locally employed staff were ready to come back to work, but others needed to be replaced.

“Things don’t ‘just happen,’” said Scott Dubin, a member of the U.S. Civilian Response Corps who worked on the planning. “There are so many details you have to figure out. They say that wars are won and lost on logistics. This is the same.”

Once Tripoli was in the hands of the rebels, Diplomatic Security officers were the first U.S. officials to hit the ground, followed by management and communications experts, and a Department of Defense team to sweep for explosives. Supplies traveled by plane from Washington to Italy, then by ferry into Tripoli. Some were driven in from Tunisia.

For the moment, the Embassy is working in temporary space and the search for a permanent spot is still ongoing. But at the flag-raising ceremony, Cretz hailed the prospects for a new, free Libya and pledged expanding U.S. support.

“Your actions and success to overthrow the chains of dictatorship and repression and establish a system that provides freedoms and rights for all citizens is an inspiration to people around the world,” Cretz said.

Date: 03/01/2010 Description: Back to Index - State Dept Image


Building a Response Corps From Scratch

Carl Siebentritt served as chief of operations and then as acting director for Civilian Response Operations at the Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization (S/CRS) from August 2008 to August 2011. He spent much of his Foreign Service career in Europe and the Balkans, including building a platform for U.S. engagement in post-conflict Kosovo in 1999 and 2000.

When I joined S/CRS in August 2008, the State Department’s Civilian Response Corps had about 10 members – all State Department foreign and civil service employees. Since that time, we have built a Corps of nearly 140 active members and eight partner federal departments and agencies. Since 2008, more than 235 Corps members have participated in more than 400 deployments to more than 40 countries. We have learned many lessons about the best way to support our embassies in the field with planning tools and rapid surge deployments. Over time, we realized that our ability to provide a State Department reserve of both equipment and expertise depends on our close collaboration with offices across the U.S. government. As this capacity evolves, it’s worth looking back on how we got where we are.

In the Beginning

Our initial model for deployment was a large-scale response requiring a wide variety of specialized skills, so we sought to tailor our hiring accordingly. Afghanistan was the biggest game in town. We wanted to make ourselves relevant there, but we quickly realized that we did not have the structure, budgets, or capability to manage such a large civilian surge. We focused instead on filling urgently needed, highly specialized positions covering mostly civilian-military planning and integration. Our numbers in Afghanistan never exceed about three dozen, but our work went a long way to proving what the Corps could do to integrate a major stabilization effort, and it provided a great training ground.

At the same time, our work in Southern Sudan grew into the best demonstration to date of our expeditionary capabilities. The State Department’s Africa Bureau and its Special Envoy for Sudan requested help building a more robust engagement to respond to the January 2010 referendum on independence in the South. We sent surge personnel who were able to expand the U.S. Consulate in the southern capital of Juba and provide reporting and sector-specific advising. We dispatched 10 stabilization teams across the country to monitor and help mitigate conflict. We provided vehicles and aircraft. And we did it all quickly. In time, Sudan became the proof of concept for what we could do.

Our mission in the Kyrgyz Republic provided a different experience. Not long after we arrived in early 2010, we had to shift our focus quickly after the government was overthrown and ethnic violence erupted in the country’s south. As in Sudan, we provided the U.S. mission with the ability to extend its reach in ways beyond the conventional means available. We set up and staffed a temporary office in the southern city of Osh, where we were able to report on and help mitigate conflict. Our ability to move people and resources quickly helped make this effort a success. These engagements all serve as templates for how the Civilian Response Corps should operate in the future.

Building the Corps

As we began to build the Corps in 2009, we ran into the realities of federal hiring. Corps positions – Washington-based but fully deployable – didn’t fit in with any standard HR template. I am very proud of the intensive work we did with HR professionals to develop the unique new positions that were required. It took time, but in the end, we hired a Corps that is as diverse as it is talented.

To coordinate our capabilities, we set up regional coordination teams in Washington that brought in players from across departments and agencies. The teams helped tailor our response to each region and helped develop and run the engagements, as the Africa team did for Sudan. They also spread the word about the Corps and attracted interest in using our capacity. The team structure can be challenging, as it requires constant goodwill and collaboration among S/CRS and partner agencies, but it has also proven vital.

Aside from hiring, the most challenging and rewarding part of building the Corps was working with our partners across the U.S. government. Each department and agency has its own personality, its own internal dynamics, and its own vision of the Corps – and of U.S. foreign policy. Reconciling these diverse and often competing visions and personalities was a constant concern. I found that listening, adopting ideas that made sense, and compromising where possible were essential to retaining their interest, commitment, and respect. I remain a firm believer in the concept of “whole-of-government” and the key role that not only USAID but our other partner agencies should play. They should be involved throughout engagement planning so that Corps members have adequate support from their entire agency. I believe this will be one key difference between a truly expert U.S. corps and a Department of State personnel reserve.

Future of the Corps

The proposed reorganization of S/CRS into a new Bureau for Conflict and Stabilization Operations incorporates many of the lessons we have learned and offers an opportunity to integrate our efforts better with other State Department bureaus. The transition will be challenging and require us to look for creative ways to attract and retain more Foreign Service officers, who bring much-needed regional and linguistic expertise, as well as a deep knowledge of how the Department and its embassies function. In turn, foreign service experts can share what we can offer and strengthen links with the geographic bureaus. S/CRS can play a hugely important role in supporting the expeditionary diplomacy that we need in the future.

I leave it to others to take the Civilian Response Corps in new directions. I think the Corps of the future will have a leaner, more generalist bent, supplemented by recruits standing by in other agencies and flexible hiring authorities to reach beyond that when necessary. It may not maintain a large standing force or single-handedly manage a thousand-person surge, but it can provide something that has not existed until now: a ready, trained, and skilled civilian corps that provides an early and flexible U.S. response in future contingencies.

Date: 03/01/2010 Description: Back to Index - State Dept Image

Date: 10/14/2011 Description: In 2007, the nine members of the Civilian Response Corps's Active component pose for a group shot.  - State Dept Image
In 2007, the nine members of the Civilian Response Corps's Active component pose for a group shot.

Date: 10/14/2011 Description: Over 100 Civilian Response Corps members gather for a group photo in 2010.  - State Dept Image
Over 100 Civilian Response Corps members gather for a group photo in 2010.

[This is a mobile copy of Summer 2011 Civilian Response Newsletter]