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Commander's Guide to Money as a Weapons System Handbook

Handbook 09-27
April 2009

CALL Handbook 09-27: Commander's Guide to Money as a Weapons System Handbook

Commander's Emergency Response Program

Chapter 4

The Commander's Emergency Response Program (CERP) enables local commanders in Afghanistan and Iraq to respond with a nonlethal weapon to urgent, small-scale, humanitarian relief, and reconstruction projects and services that immediately assist the indigenous population and that the local population or government can sustain. The Department of Defense (DOD) defines urgent as any chronic or acute inadequacy of an essential good or service that in the judgment of the local commander calls for immediate action. Prior coordination with community leaders increases goodwill.

With most small-scale projects (less than $500 thousand [K]), CERP is a quick and effective method that provides an immediate, positive impact on the local population while other larger reconstruction projects are still getting off the ground. The keys to project selection are:

  • Execute quickly.
  • Employ many people from the local population.
  • Benefit the local population.
  • Be highly visible.

CERP rules and guidance:

  • Ensure local, donor nation, nongovernmental organization, or other aid or reconstruction resources are not reasonably available before using CERP funds.
  • Commanders: 
    • Should consider complementary programs provided by the U.S. Agency for International Development and other nongovernmental agencies operating in their areas of responsibility.
    • Will coordinate and determine project needs with local government agencies, civil affairs elements, engineers, provincial reconstruction and development committees (PRDCs), provincial reconstruction teams (PRTs), and/or agricultural development teams (ADTs) to gain the greatest effect, ensure synchronization, and provide for project acceptance with follow-on project maintenance and sustainment as required by the documented government of Afghanistan or Iraq .
    • Must ensure reasonable prices are paid for services and supplies received and projects are constructed to a modest, functional standard.
    • Will not deliberately over-pay for projects or commingle funds.
    • Can quickly execute projects that do not exceed $500K without a warranted contracting officer but with a U.S. government (USG) employee (not a contractor) trained as a project purchasing officer (PPO).
  • U.S. appropriated and Afghan or Iraqi funded CERP projects exceeding the $500K threshold require contracts by a warranted contracting officer.
  • Use a warranted contracting officer for projects under $500K when the technical complexity or the scope of the project exceeds the abilities of the PPO.
  • A CERP review board will consider the project requests.
  • Insert the following clauses into all major subordinate command (MSC) memorandums of agreement entered into with a government of Iraq (GOI) or government of Afghanistan official to ensure the follow-on sustainment of projects: 
    • "Nothing in this memorandum of agreement authorizes the commitment or obligation of appropriated funds of the United States of America prior to their availability, or in violation of any applicable statue, regulation, or policy of the government of the United States of America."
    • "This document expresses the participants' intent to achieve the goals of this project. The participants intend for this project to benefit the neighborhood and its people for years to come. It is not, however, a legal instrument that binds the participants under international law. Rather, it embodies the aspirations toward which the participants strive."
  • The authorized methods of payment in the order of payment preference are: 
    • Electronic funds transfer.
    • Check drawn against a limited depository account.
    • Local currency (Afghan Afghani or Iraqi Dinar).
    • U.S. currency.
  • See your supporting resource management office for funding amount limits and approval authority.
  • DOD requires incorporating CERP guidance into contracts, as appropriate, to cover the execution, management, recording, and reporting of expenditures of U.S. appropriations and other funds made available for the CERP.

Specific uses for the CERP:

  • Water and sanitation. Projects to repair or reconstruct water or sewer infrastructure, including water wells.
  • Food production and distribution. Projects to increase food production or distribution processes.
  • Agriculture. Projects to increase agricultural production or cooperative agricultural programs.
  • Electricity. Projects to repair or reconstruct electrical power or distribution infrastructure, including generators.
  • Healthcare. Projects to repair or reconstruct hospitals or clinics or to provide urgent healthcare services, immunizations, medicine, medical supplies, or equipment.
  • Education. Projects to repair or reconstruct schools, purchase school supplies, or equipment.
  • Telecommunications. Projects to repair or reconstruct telecommunications systems or infrastructure.
  • Economic, financial, and management improvements. Projects to improve economic or financial security.
  • Transportation. Projects to repair or reconstruct transportation systems, roads, bridges, or transportation infrastructure.
  • Rule of law and governance. Projects to repair or reconstruct government buildings such as administration offices, courthouses, or prisons.
  • Irrigation. Projects to repair or reconstruct irrigation systems, including canal cleanup.
  • Civic cleanup activities. Projects that remove trash, clean up the community, or perform beautification.
  • Civic support vehicles. Projects to purchase or lease vehicles to support civic and community activities.
  • Repair of civic and cultural facilities. Projects to repair or restore civic or cultural buildings or facilities.
  • Repair damage that results from U.S., coalition, or supporting military operations that is not compensable under the Foreign Claims Act.
  • Condolence payments to individual civilians for death, injury, or property damage resulting from U.S., coalition, or supporting military operations.
  • Payments made to surviving spouses or next of kin of Afghan or Iraqi defense or police personnel who were killed as a result of U.S., coalition, or supporting military operations (hero payments [formerly referred to as martyr payments in Iraq]).
  • Payments to individuals upon release from detention (only applies to MSC non-theater internment facility holding areas).
  • Protective measures, such as fencing, lights, barrier materials, berms over pipelines, or guard towers.
  • Temporary contract guards for critical infrastructure (for example, oil pipelines or electric power lines).
  • Other urgent humanitarian or reconstruction projects. Projects to repair collateral battle damage not otherwise payable because of combat exclusions or condolence payments.

Commanders will ensure CERP projects focus primarily on:

  • Projects that can be sustained by the local population or government and cost less than $500K.
  • Reconstructing structures damaged after military operations to rapidly  improve conditions such as repairing homes, roads, and mosques.
  • Making emergency repairs on critical facilities such as hospitals, water treatment facilities, and electrical plants.
  • Economic development.
  • Resolving critical infrastructure shortfalls that can be rapidly repaired such as bridges, sewage, and telephone systems.
  • Reducing the risk of injury to the local populace by means such as constructing security fences and barriers; providing trash and sewage removal; providing blankets, space heaters, and propane where unavailable; and installing traffic control and other warning signs.
  • Procuring critical equipment to replace lost, stolen, and nonrepairable items or to establish critical, community-essential services such as buying new parts for a water pump, backup generators for a hospital, or firefighting equipment for a community fire department.
  • Employing as many Iraqi people as possible.

Commanders will not use the CERP for the following:

  • Projects with a direct or indirect benefit to U.S., coalition, or other supporting personnel.
  • Providing goods, services, or funds to national armies; national guard forces; border security forces; civil defense forces; infrastructure protection forces; highway patrol units; police; special police or intelligence; or other security forces (except contract guards such as Sons/Daughters of Iraq and/or corresponding initiatives in Afghanistan).
  • Weapons buyback programs or other purchases of firearms or ammunition (except as authorized by law and with separate implementing guidance).
  • Entertainment (except light refreshment costs purely incidental to either an approved CERP project opening ceremony or a conference in support of a CERP project).
  • Reward programs.
  • Removal of unexploded ordnance (unless incidental to construction or an agricultural development project).
  • Duplication of services available through municipal governments.
  • Salaries, bonuses, or pensions of Afghan and Iraqi military or civilian government personnel.
  • Training, equipping, or operating costs of Afghan and Iraqi security forces.
  • Support to individuals or private businesses (except condolence, former detainee, or hero payments; battle damage payments; or micro-grants).
  • Conducting psychological operations; information operations; or other U.S., coalition, Afghan, or Iraqi security operations.
  • Loans or capitalization of lending institutes.
  • Purchasing goods or services from any U.S. trade-sanctioned nation.
  • Stipends for trainees of CERP-funded education or training programs.

Send requests for clarification and exceptions to CERP policies through the resource manager (G8) to the senior resource management program coordinator (C8/G8) or to the respective functional program manager for action.

Approving Authorities (DOD Financial Guidance, 18 December 2008) 


The commander of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) must approve projects greater than $2 million (M) of appropriated CERP funds. The CENTCOM commander may delegate this approval authority to his deputy commander or to the U.S. Forces-Afghanistan (USFOR-A) commander, provided the USFOR-A commander is not also serving as the combined joint task force commander who already has responsibility to approve projects up to $2M.


Projects using appropriated CERP funds are capped at $2M. The Secretary of Defense may waive this funding limit if he: (1) determines the project is required to meet urgent humanitarian relief and reconstruction requirements and that it will immediately assist the Iraqi people, and (2) submits notification of his waiver in writing to the defense committees within 15 days of his waiver. The waiver is required to discuss the unmet and urgent needs addressed by the project and any arrangements between the USG and the GOI regarding the provision of Iraqi funds to carry out and sustain the project.

The Secretary of Defense or Deputy Secretary of Defense (if authority is delegated) must certify that any project funded with appropriated CERP funds over $1M addresses urgent humanitarian relief and reconstruction requirements that will immediately assist the Iraqi people.

Projects costing more than $750K are expected to be funded on a cost-share basis with the GOI. All projects over $750K require either an explanation of the cost-share arrangement with the GOI or a justification that the project directly benefits U.S. security objectives in Iraq and should be pursued even in the absence of cost sharing.

Commanders will continue to identify and pursue opportunities to transition responsibility for larger economic revitalization efforts to the GOI and will include a description of these efforts in the "commander's narrative" section of the quarterly report.

Personnel Responsibilities 

CERP is a commander's program and commanders have significant responsibility in ensuring its success.

All commanders:

  • Identify CERP projects in coordination with local government officials and agencies and key staff elements.
  • Consult with the appropriate PRDCs (including PRTs; embedded PRTs; ADTs; and provincial support teams, where established) prior to initiating any CERP project of $50K or more.
  • Approve CERP projects consistent with their approval authorities and funding availabilities.
  • Ensure proper management, reporting, and fiscal controls to account for funding.
  • Review project results and issue a clearance memorandum for record stating: "I have reviewed and approved these projects, and they are complete and adhere to the guidelines set forth in the CERP guidance and applicable fragmentary orders."

Specific command responsibilities:

  • Unit commander: 
    • Identifies the scope of the proposed project.
    • Develops a statement of work or project proposal.
    • Prepares a Standard Form 44 (Purchase Order-Invoice-Voucher), Department of the Army Form 3953 (Purchase Request and Commitment Form), or a Department of Defense Form 1149 (Requisition and Invoice/Shipping Document) as required.
    • Provides the information to the battalion-level CERP project manager.
    • Ensures construction meets engineering standards and performance is updated against the relevant metrics.
    • Ensures final inspections are completed, project is documented as required, and project is transferred to the appropriate Afghan/Iraqi government officials for sustainment.
  • Brigade/Battalion commander: 
    • Is the CERP project manager.
    • Appoints PPOs and paying agents (PAs) in writing. (The appointment order specifies the maximum amount the PPO may manage or that the PA may draw from the finance office. The PPO will receive appointment orders upon successful completion of PPO training by a warranted contracting officer, and the PA on completion of training by the finance office.)
    • Ensures no one serves as both PPO and PA.
  • PPO: 
    • Is the direct representative of the contracting officer.
    • Must be a USG employee and not a contractor or coalition member.
    • Receives authority to procure services and supplies from the commander in accordance with policies and procedures outlined in training received from the appropriate contracting office.
    • Contracts to obtain services and supplies subject to specific rules applicable to the project cost.
    • Manages individual CERP projects to completion.
    • Directs the PA to make installment (in-progress) and final payments according to command guidance and finance regulations.
    • Maintains project files in accordance with command guidance.
    • May be held financially liable.
    • May be subject to administrative actions or criminal prosecution for making prohibited purchases.
  • PA: 
    • Is the direct representative of the servicing finance office's disbursing officer (DO)
    • Receives and disburses cash for CERP project expenditures according to command guidance and finance regulations.
    • Is trained by the servicing finance office.
    • May be a coalition member subject to continued Secretary of Defense approval and if internal controls are met to ensure the restitution of USG funds if they are lost.
    • May be held financially liable for any loss of funds.
    • May be held financially liable for any cash, negotiable instrument, and/or paid vouchers entrusted to him.
    • May not delegate responsibility for funds to anyone else, including financial institutions.
    • Ensures funds are delivered, transported, and safeguarded consistent with DOD Financial Management Regulation 7000.14-R, Volume 5, Chapter 3, and applicable finance command policies and procedures.
    • Signs a financial liability statement in the presence of the DO or deputy DO.
    • May be subject to administrative actions or criminal prosecution.
    • Coordinates with finance prior to and after receipt of money on the potential for production of any classified documents during the CERP funds disbursement.
  • U.S. warranted contracting office: 
    • Conducts formal training classes for PPOs.
    • Provides written certificates of training.
    • Awards contracts for all CERP projects over $500K.
  • U.S. military finance office: 
    • Is the location of the DO, DDO, and disbursing agent (DA): 
      • DO, DDO, or DA trains and briefs PAs on their duties and responsibilities.
      • DO or DDO witnesses PA signing a financial liability statement.
    • Funds, manages, and clears PA accounts
  • The resource manager supporting operations is the "go to" individual for CERP guidance.

Performance Metrics 

CERP procedures for evaluating proposed projects to ensure spending CERP funds for the most beneficial projects will consider:

  • Immediate benefit to the local population.
  • Sustainability of the project.
  • Name and authority of the local partner.
  • Number of the local population engaged in the project.
  • Number of locals benefitting.
  • Executability of the project (in terms of completion, operations, and sustainment of the project).
  • Relationship to other, similar efforts such as replicating other successful projects funded with CERP.
  • Quantifiable measures of productivity or service improvements.

Special Commander's Emergency Response Program Situations 

Special CERP situations range from different types of CERP-affiliated funding (such as the Iraqi-Commander's Emergency Response Program [I-CERP] and Iraqi interim government [IIG]), to special uses of CERP (such as condolence and former detainee payments), or to special execution of CERP.

CERP-affiliated funding 

I-CERP funding focuses on schools, water purification plants, health clinics, city planning facilities, roads, sewers, and irrigation.

IIG funds, also known as Development Funds for Iraq. These funds assist the Iraqi people in the following areas:

  • Security and law enforcement.
  • Justice, public safety infrastructure, and civil society.
  • Electric sector.
  • Oil infrastructure.
  • Water resources and sanitation.
  • Transportation and telecommunications.
  • Roads, bridges, and construction.
  • Health care.
  • Private sector development.
  • Education, refugees, human rights, and governance.

Special uses for CERP:

  • Condolence and battle damage payments
  • Iraqi hero payments
  • Former detainee payments
  • Commander's small-scale projects
  • Micro-grants
  • CERP project ribbon cutting ceremony

Special execution of CERP includes the following:

  • Advance, bulk funding for commander's small-scale projects, condolences, battle damages, and detainee and Iraqi hero payments, but not for micro-grants.
  • Execution by coalition major subordinate commands.
  • Funding for non-operational environment owners.

See also Appendix B, MNC-I CJ8, Money as a Weapons System Standing Operating Procedures, and Appendices B and C of this handbook.

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