Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations
June 18, 2013

This report serves as the fifth and final annual report and strategy to the Congress required under Sections 1607 and 1608 of the Reconstruction and Stabilization Civilian Management Act of 2008 (Title XVI ofP.L. 110-417). It provides information on the Civilian Response Corps (CRC)1 and the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations (CSO), which manages the CRC.

The CRC was created in 2008 to carry out civilian tasks in reconstruction and stabilization. The CRC-Active component (CRC-A) comprises pre-cleared, trained federal civilian employees prepared to deploy within 48 hours. The CRC-Standby (CRC-S) comprises federal civilian employees who can deploy within 30 days with their agency's consent. CSO also uses other networks to find and deploy civilian experts within and outside of the Federal Government.

If a scroll bar appears below the following table, swipe the table to move left/right of the dashed line.
Table 1: FY 2012 Deployments
Countries Number of Personnel Deployed
FY 2012
Personnel Aggregated
Afghanistan 38 5,470
Belize 7 205
Burma 2 28
CAR 1 56
Cote D'Ivoire 3 552
DRC 13 964
Djibouti 1 73
Ethiopia 1 56
El Salvador 1 91
Guatemala 6 49
Honduras 16 468
Iraq 2 74
Kenya 15 488
Kyrgyzstan 1 13
Lebanon 5 35
Liberia 4 119
Libya 3 498
Maldives 4 169
Nigeria 2 48
Nepal 6 120
Pakistan 8 502
Senegal 8 468
Sierra Leone 2 68
Somalia 3 128
South Sudan 25 2,475
Syria 21 926
Tunisia 2 111
Uganda 3 466
Uzbekistan 5 137
Zimbabwe 5 183
TOTAL 213 15,040

Civilian Response Corps

  • CSO spent $19 million in FY 2012 to support salaries and benefits for CRC members.
  • As of March 31,2013,41 civilian responders were deployed to 10 countries/engagements.
  • As of March 31,2013, there are 44 active members of the CRC, down from 61 at the beginning of FY 2013.
  • CSO conducted 213 individual deployments to 30 countries/engagements in FY 2012. Salaries, travel, lodging, danger and differential pay, and other operational expenses for deployments totaled $17.1 million.

Average deployment length was 71 days. However, the duration of deployments varied widely with engagements. Average deployments to Afghanistan, a well-established engagement, were 144 days. Newer and more urgent engagements such as work in Turkey with the Syrian civilian opposition (44 days) and Kenya (32 days) tended to be shorter. (See Table 1)

During the last year, no steps were taken to establish the Reserve component of the CRC. The State Department's 2010 Quadrennial Diplomacy and The Reconstruction and Stabilization Civilian Management Act of 2008 authorized a Response Readiness Corps (composed of federal employees) and a Civilian Reserve Corps. "Civilian Response Corps" refers to both groups collectively and is composed of active, standby, and reserve components. Development Review recommended replacing it with an Experts Corps similar to the network model described below.

Civilian Response Network

The CRC has proven to be a useful tool in the U.S. Government's ability to expedite civilian deployment to conflict zones. However, it is costly ($24 million in FY 2011), and underutilized (average deployment rate of 37 percent in FY 2011). Furthermore, conflict prevention and crisis response require skill sets not always available in the CRC.

Over the past year, CSO shifted the model of the CRC to deploy a wider range of responders more quickly and at lower cost.

  • CSO reduced the CRC-A component from 129 at the beginning of FY 2012 to 61 at the beginning of FY 2013, conserving $13 million that was channeled back into engagements.
  • CSO reached out to bilateral, multilateral, private sector, and especially host-country organizations to develop networks of talent both in and beyond government. Collectively, CSO refers to these groups as the Civilian Response Network (CRN).
  • While the CRC-S database contains more than 400 names of federal employees who can be considered for deployments, the CRN model allows CSO to look beyondthe CRC-S for expertise both within and beyond the Federal Government.

These changes shifted CSO from an organization that supports CRC-A personnel regardless of how often they deploy (just-in-case responders) to a model that uses more specialists who can be funded only when they are in the field (Just in-time responders). Though it forced some hard choices within the CRC, the savings allow CSO to focus its work overseas at a lower cost.

When a need for civilian capacity is identified, CSO has access to more than 50 networks and recruitment vehicles. CSO can search its database of civilian responders, call upon CRC partner agencies, or tap into its networks of U.S., international, and in-country talent. The networks include U.S.-based police and justice professional associations and other networks of civilians with experience in state and local government. They also include international nongovernmental organizations, international partners' rosters such as those of the UN and the U.K.'s Stabilisation Unit, and networks of specialists in the countries and regions where CSO works, who possess necessary language skills and cultural understanding.

The CRN includes several hallmarks:

  • Leadership. CSO is developing a cadre of experienced senior leaders who can direct civilian teams on short notice in difficult environments.
    • Retired Ambassador James Bullington deployed to Senegal, where his high-level attention helped advance the peace process in the country's Casamance region.
  • Local networks. CSO supports networks of community-based nongovernmental organizations working on conflict prevention and crisis response.
    • In the run-up to Kenya's 2013 elections, CSO utilized more than 100 Kenyans, who in turn mobilized a surge of thousands of civilians to spread voter education messages, counteract hate speech, and provide early warnings of violence.
  • Agile and flexible staffing. In addition to the standing capacity of the CRC-A, CSO draws on "just-in-time" hiring mechanisms such as personal service contracts, third party contracts, and detailees.
    • For its efforts to reduce crime and impunity in Honduras, CSO deployed Spanish-speaking local law enforcement with experience in those areas from Texas, Pennsylvania, and Washington state. For an audit of the government's public ministry, CSO utilized experts based in the region, rather than Americans, boosting the effort's credibility and local knowledge.

As part of its FY 2014 budget, the Department requests flexible hiring and spending authorities for engagement in conflict and crisis. These authorities would allow for faster and less expensive mechanisms to deploy a wide range of talent.

Conflict and Stabilization Operations Strategy

CSO advances U.S. national security by helping posts and regional bureaus take early and strategic action to break cycles of violence, with a focus on improving civilian security within 12 months of engagement. CSO supports the Department's efforts to increase coherence and effectiveness in conflict prevention and crisis response by providing resources and capabilities for: (1) unbiased conflict analysis grounded in local insight that offers clear policy and program options; (2) strategic plans that focus resources on priorities; and (3) operations in conflict-affected and transition settings that leverage partnerships and build on local initiatives.

This strategy reflects principles of contemporary approaches to conflict prevention and response: agility, global reach, extensive partnerships, local grounding, and thrift. The CRC and Civilian Response Network are important tools in this work. In pursuit of these objectives, CSO has reorganized over the last year to focus on conflict prevention and response. It now directs 80 percent of salaries to conduct and support deployments. CSO consolidated from three locations in the Washington area to one, liquidating its warehouse, saving or avoiding costs of $6.5 million over two years on top of the savings from the CRC.

In 2013, CSO funded operations to support the Syrian civilian opposition, mitigate conflict during the Kenyan election, reduce violence in Honduras, strengthen the security sector in Libya, consolidate stability in Somalia, and build trust between Burmese ethnic groups and their government, among other initiatives.

Interagency Efforts

CRC and CSO engagements occur at the request of U.S. Embassies, regional bureaus, or Department or executive branch leadership. The first step in any engagement is joint, unbiased local analysis so that all U.S. actors share a common understanding of the situation and agree on a prioritized, strategic response.

Usually, CSO undertakes this analysis with other parts of the Department of State and the interagency, especially USAID. This approach is critical to drive coherence and focus among the many parties engaged in response to conflict and crisis.

CSO also uses a cooperative interagency model for driving foreign assistance to strategic, quick-impact projects with real-time evaluation in priority countries. In 2012, CSO, other Department of State bureaus, and interagency partners conducted a global evaluation of the Section 1207 program and identified more than $30 million that was not being put to effective use. A selection committee composed of CSO, the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL), USAID, the Office of U.S. Foreign Assistance Resources (F), and DoD jointly and transparently reprogrammed the money for priority stabilization projects, including:

  • Somalia (S7.2M): A USAID-implemented program stabilizing recently recaptured al-Shabaab-controlled areas.
  • Honduras ($5M): A CSO/USAID program aimed at breaking cycles of violence resulting from a burgeoning murder rate.
  • Kenya ($2.3M): A USAID-implemented program to address election related violence.
  • Burma ($2M): A landmine action initiative aimed at building trust between the Government of Burma and ethnic minorities, implemented by the bureaus of Political-Military Affairs (PM) and Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM).
  • Senegal ($1M): A CSO/PM-implemented program aimed at peace building in the Casamance region.
  • Panama ($407K): Support to INL for security assistance programming in the Darien region, provided as bridge funding until money from the Government of Panama became available.

This process has reduced by months the time from project conception to delivery of funds. The selection committee directs funds to the best-positioned implementers for priority projects, regardless of bureaucratic position. Of the $17.9 million in Section 1207 reprogrammed to six countries to date, $2.7 million - 15 percent - went to CSO programs.