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Complex Operations Newsletter

Newsletter 10-46
June 2010

CALL 10-46: Complex Operations Newsletter

Chapter 2. Interagency Operations: Coordination for Reconstrucion and Stabilization

Whole of Government Approach to Reconstruction and Stabilization Coordination and Lessons Learned

Melanne A. Civic

Reprinted with Permission, Center for Complex Operations, National Defense University

The "trials and errors" of U.S. engagements in fragile and failing states since the early 1990s have led to the recognition that such challenges likely are to become an enduring part of the U.S. security landscape, and that the U.S. government-civilians and military-need to be prepared to respond in a structured and coordinated manner that effectively utilizes the capabilities across the Agencies. The development of this capacity has taken more than a dozen years and three successive Administrations, through Presidential Directives and Department of Defense Directives. Over the past two years, Congressional authorization and appropriations has meant that, on the civilian side, a proactive, "whole of government" approach to conflict prevention and stability operations is coming into being, coordinated through the Secretary of State's Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization (S/CRS).

Taking a step back to 1997, President Bill Clinton, in recognition of the complexity and multi-dimensional character of post-conflict, transitional and other stability operations encountered in Bosnia, Somalia and Haiti issued Presidential Decision Directive 56 (PDD-56). Although it remains a classified document, an accompanying White Paper1 was produced to outline the general principles of PDD-56, which included establishing a unified strategy and training for the whole of government, collecting lessons learned from operations, and integrating these lessons into improved training and planning for the next engagement.2 The White Paper made explicit the policy goal of minimizing the U.S. military engagement beyond traditional roles, to assure the judicious deployment of the military, and avoid open-ended military engagements. The White Paper describes that PDD-56, in recognition of the national security challenges of future "complex contingency operations," calls for U.S. Government agencies to institutionalize lessons and develop and conduct interagency training programs.3

In 2005, in response to the lack of sustained progress in preparedness, the continued ad hoc approach to stability operations, and massive gaps in coordination most apparent through the efforts of the U.S. Government agencies working with the Iraq Coalition Provincial Authority, and the national security challenges of Afghanistan, Sudan, Haiti, and elsewhere, President Bush issued the National Security Presidential Directive 44 (NSPD-44).4 NSPD-44 has been described ironically by the first Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization, Ambassador Carlos Pascual as doing for the civilians what Goldwater-Nichols did for the armed services, except without legislative authority and without funding.5 Although not explicitly building upon PDD-56, NSPD-44 takes a similar approach and a significant a step further.

NSPD-44 calls for a permanent structure for stability operations-under civilian leadership. According to NSPD-44, the Secretary of State is directed to "coordinate and lead integrated United States Government efforts" among the civilian agencies, and with the Secretary of Defense.6 NSPD-44 establishes the policy imperative of "improved coordination, planning, and implementation for reconstruction and stabilization assistance for foreign states and regions at risk of, in, or in transition from conflict or civil strife."7 NSPD-44 has been complemented by Congressional authorization in the "Reconstruction and Stabilization Civilian Management Act of 2008," Title XVI of the Duncan Hunter National Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2009,8 which permanently establishes S/CRS in the Department of State and authorizes the development of a standing civilian surge mechanism to respond to reconstruction and stabilization. S/CRS works exclusively within the framework of stability and reconstruction operations, to seek to thwart conflict or stabilize post-conflict.9

Concurrent with NSPD-44, the Department of Defense Directive 3000.05 (DODD 3000.05)10 of 2005 raised Stability Operations to the level of a core military capability that "shall be given priority comparable to combat operations."11 It was developed in consultation with NSPD-44, mirrors the civilian-military coordinating provisions, and mandates DOD and the military services to coordinate with S/CRS, the civilian Agencies, international institutions, nongovernmental organizations and the private sector.12 DODD 3000.05 was updated and reissued in 2009 under the Obama Administration. Over the last several years, DOD has been developing guidance and doctrine for coordinated military-civilian engagements, particularly for those skills frequently called upon in transitional security contexts-stability policing and rule of law mentoring.13 DOD and S/CRS have collaborated together and with other interagency partners in military exercises, experiments, training and workshops.

NSPD-44 sets out a mechanism for the National Security Council to oversee agency collaboration to seek to resolve policy issues and decide on unified action.14 A coordinating body-first known as the Policy Coordinating Committee and now the Interagency Policy Committee (IPC)-is co-chaired by the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization, and a member of the National Security Council staff. It is charged with overseeing and facilitating the integration of all military and civilian contingency planning, and civilian R&S operations, in collaboration with coordinating entities for a particular country, region, or subject matter.

The civilian agencies of the Reconstruction and Stabilization IPC include all those currently involved in or with pertinent skills and interests in developing capabilities for responding to reconstruction and stabilization crises. Some of the most active civilian partner agencies include the U.S. Agency for International Development, Department of Justice, Department of Commerce, Department of the Treasury, Department of Agriculture, Department of Homeland Security, in addition to input from the Department of Transportation, Department of Energy, and Department of Labor, among others. The "heavy lifting"-the recommendations that the Principal Officers consider in the IPC meetings, are developed at the mid-management and working levels from among the interagency partners-including civilian Agency partners and DOD/OSD, JFCOM, and various military services representatives, through sub-groups and working groups. These groups are organized on the basis of subject areas considered most pertinent and pressing to achieving coordinated stability and reconstruction planning and operations, including sub-groups on Readiness, Planning, Equipping, and working groups on Best Practices; and Stability Police.

Several tasks and processes are outlined in NSPD-44 and affirmed in the authorizing legislation, including the development of improved and coordinated strategies, programming, and foreign assistance funding within and among the agencies; establishing a civilian surge response capability; and identifying lessons learned to inform improvements in operations.15 S/CRS follows a multi-pronged approach: best practices; a planning framework; an interagency management system; a conflict assessment tool, and development of an interagency corps of civilian experts trained and ready to prevent conflict and respond post-conflict.

First, S/CRS brought together the civilian agencies involved in stabilization and reconstruction operations to capture essential tasks for planners and implementers, in the Essential Tasks Matrix (ETM).16 Throughout many months of discussions, Department of State bureaus working in these areas, USAID, and domestic-based agencies drew on their experiences in the field, and their knowledge of lessons learned from numerous engagements to come up with as comprehensive a list as possible of all essential activities across the R&S sectors. The ETM embodies best practices, and provides a menu of activities that can be considered by practitioners, and selected and modified according to the particular circumstances of the country or region. Over the past several years, not only has feedback from civilian and military partners indicated that the ETM is a practical tool, but the exercise of bringing together the interagency set the stage for and accustomed the interagency to participate in collaborative efforts.

S/CRS next facilitated civilian agencies and DOD discussions to formulate a USG Planning Framework for Stabilization and Reconstruction according to which the whole of government approach could be organized for response. The Planning Framework is a template for strategic planning across sectors for the particular mission, based on defined objectives that directly support USG national interests. This strategic level planning forms the basis for the operational and tactical level planning that goes on at the mission level or that will be integrated with COCOM level planning, after it is presented to the NSC Deputies or Principals Committee for approval.

Targeting the prevention of conflict, S/CRS and partner agencies developed the Interagency Conflict Assessment Framework (ICAF). The ICAF is a template for U.S. Government interagency collaboration to evaluate the internal conflict dynamics of a country at risk of failure, and to reach U.S. Government consensus on recommendations for potential entry points for additional USG efforts in conflict prevention and transformation.

As a blueprint for coordinated engagement, S/CRS facilitated the development of the Interagency Management System (IMS). The IMS is designed to provide coordinated, interagency policy and program management for highly complex crises and operations, involving widespread instability; which may require military operations; and engage multiple US agencies.17 The IMS clarifies "roles, responsibilities, and processes for mobilizing and supporting interagency [reconstruction and stabilization] operations," and will provide one structure under which civilians can be organized when they are called upon to participate in stability operations. The IMS is to be comprised of the Coordination of Reconstruction and Stabilization Group (CRSG), which is an IPC-level decision making body that is supported by a Secretariat, an Integrated Planning Cell (IPC), Advance Civilian Teams (ACTs) and Field Advance Civilian Teams (FACTs). The Secretariat is designed to support policy making, and ensure a single channel for information, draft a unified plan for U.S. government action, and monitor the implementation of policy decisions. The IPC will deploy to the relevant combatant command to ingrate civilian and military plans. The ACTs and FACTs will be the field headquarters and implementation elements, respectively.

S/CRS is substantially increasing the "boots on the ground" civilian readiness capacity to respond to conflict prevention, stabilization, and reconstruction crises. The Civilian Response Corps is a novel government entity that has a hybrid character. Its members are employees of the participating agencies, yet, while engaged in training, planning and operations, function as an interagency team, applying the whole of government approach, are funded through the Department of State and USAID, and coordinated by S/CRS.

The Civilian Response Corps is conceived of as three distinct yet mutually supporting components: Active, Standby and Reserves. S/CRS piloted the Active and Standby components within the Department of State in 2006, with a group of nearly a dozen highly trained Active personnel located within S/CRS, and a roster of approximately 200 Standby personnel. Members of this initial group participated in planning, conflict prevention and stability operations in countries including Lebanon, Haiti, Sudan, Chad, Kosovo, and Georgia. In September 2008, the Active and Standby components were expanded beyond S/CRS to other Department of State Bureaus and multiple U.S. Government agencies. Presently, the Agencies that form the Civilian Response Corps, in addition to the Department of State and USAID, include the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Commerce, Health and Human Services, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, and the Department of Treasury. Additional Agencies may choose to become participating agencies of the Civilian Response Corps.

While all three components of the Civilian Response Corps-Active, Standby and Reserves-have been authorized by Congress, only the Active and Standby currently are funded. In 2008 Congress provided initial funding under the FY2008 Supplemental.18 Additional regularized funding was received in FY 2009.19 The Reserves remains theoretical.

The Active Component members are full-time U.S. Government personnel who are employed by their home Agency, and whose primary duties involve training, planning for, providing direct support to, and conducting U.S. Government stabilization and reconstruction field operations. Active members commit to be available to deploy worldwide within 48 hours of call-up.

The Standby Component also is comprised of full-time U.S. Government personnel, who have skills applicable to the stabilization and reconstruction context, but their primary work duties may not involve, on a day to day basis, international reconstruction and stabilization. Standby members receive advance training and other preparation, and agree to be available to be called upon to deploy rapidly in the event such expertise is needed to support a reconstruction and stabilization response through a decision of the R&S Policy Coordinating Committee or its successor entity. Standby personnel provide expertise supplemental to other civilian responders in support of a coordinated U.S. Government reconstruction and stabilization response.

Hiring of Civilian Response Corps Active members currently is vigorous and aims at 250 across the participating U.S. Agencies. Additionally the target for identification and training of Standby members is 2,000 across the Agencies. The Active and Standby Corps members are undergoing training, participating in Washington-based planning, and some overseas field-based R&S operations and activities. Active Component members are being readied to serve as experts, mentors, program managers and implementing officers and train and operate together in cross-Agency teams. They also collaborate with the U.S. military through exercises and experiments, and will participate in civilian-military stability operations in the field.

The Reserves component will complement the Active, Standby and other response capacities of U.S. civilian Agencies, and will bring additional skills and capabilities that do not exist in sufficient quantities in the federal government, such as police officers, rule of law advisors, judicial mentors and others. Reservists will be drawn from state and local government entities and the private sector. During required annual training, Reservists will be employed as temporary federal government employees, and when deployed, they will have the status of U.S. Government term employees. The Reserves will provide American citizens another opportunity to engage in public service and to provide the US Government with a corps of individuals with greater breadth and depth of expertise in areas including specialties in rule of law and security. The Reserves ultimately has the goal of recruiting and training of 2,000 members.

During the first several years of its existence, S/CRS experienced what has been characterized by some as "growing pains," including stalled Congressional authorization and funding, and the challenges of achieving interagency coordination amidst distinct Agency cultures. Despite Presidential and bipartisan Congressional support from the beginning, Congressional authorization was stalled for approximately four years, and direct program and projects funding for nearly as long. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee originally introduced the Lugar-Biden Bill in 2004 to establish S/CRS, but a hold was placed on the Bill by one Senator, preventing its debate on the Senate floor. Ultimately, in 2008, the Bill was enacted through incorporation into the NDAA for 2009, as noted above.20

During these early years, the most steadfast and visible ally of S/CRS was DOD, advocating for S/CRS on the Hill, and providing funding for stabilization and reconstruction programs through the "1207 funds."21 The Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) introduced Section 1207 into the National Defense Authorization Act of FY 200622 and FY 2007, in order to jumpstart S/CRS with funding for short-term projects involving interagency coordination reconstruction and stabilization, and DOD was authorized to provide up to $200 million over two years in funds, services and defense articles to the Department of State.

The challenges of achieving interagency policy coordination were acutely apparent in negotiations to formulate a memorandum of agreement to set the terms and conditions to establish the Civilian Response Corps. Over a nine month period, representatives of the founding eight participating Agencies-policy experts and attorneys-came together to discuss their Agency's equities and practical ways to work within this whole of government approach. As one Agency representative commented, "I'm not saying we expected it to be easy, but we didn't expect it to be so complex either or contentious even at times . . . particularly we didn't anticipate such institutional resistance from within our own Agencies where international R&S is not part of our core mission." Another Agency representative noted that "the easy part was acceding to the shared goal of a unified, coordinated approach-the hard part was determining how to get there, while at the same time learning how to communicate across distinct Agency cultures, and to find a path to shared understanding." As positively concluded by yet another Agency participant, through negotiations of the memorandum of agreement and related processes, "S/CRS is institutionalizing the foundation for dialogue upon which all else will be built."

Indeed, such growing pains are viewed as understandable by the first Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization, Ambassador Carlos Pascual, who noted that the task of achieving "jointness" is a difficult one: "It was a good 15 years from the time of the passage of Goldwater-Nichols until the military started feeling like it was really getting jointness under its belt and understanding what it meant. And so [civilians] must have a similar expectation on these sets of issues. We're going to have a similar kind of growing process, but we have to keep that vision in mind of the overall U.S. Government strategy of individual agencies cooperating."23 Ambassador John E. Herbst, Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization characterized the interagency process at first as "a seemingly Sisyphean task"-each advance was met with push-back from all sides and new challenges, and notes that successes in cooperation and coordination "represents the steadfast ability of the U.S. Government interagency to come together with shared interests and goals to address the critical process of whole of government reconstruction and stabilization."24


1. White Paper on the Clinton Administration's Policy on Complex Contingency Operations: Presidential Decision Directive 56, May 1997.

2. Ibid.

3. Ibid.

4. "Management of Interagency Efforts Concerning Reconstruction and Stabilization," National Presidential Security Directive (NSPD)-44, signed December 7, 2005

5. Ambassador Carlos Pascual Remarks, All Elements of National Power: Military, Civilian and NGO Perspectives on Collaboration in Post-Conflict Reconstruction Ops, Young Professionals in Foreign Policy, May 5, 2007, "".

6. Ibid.

7. NSPD-44 at 1.

8. Duncan Hunter National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2009, P.L. 110-417.

9. S/CRS and its Civilian Response Corps are not designed as a humanitarian response unit, except where a humanitarian crisis is a driver of conflict.

10. DODD 3000.05, signed November 28, 2005

11. Ibid.

12. Ibid.

13. See Rule of Law Handbook-A Practitioner's Guide for Judge Advocate, "".

14. Ibid.

15. Ibid.

16. "" (last visited August 12, 2008), which builds upon the Joint CSIS/AUSA Post-Conflict Reconstruction (PCR) Task Framework" from Winning the Peace: An American Strategy for Post-Conflict Reconstruction, (Robert C. Orr, ed. 2004).

17. John E. Herbst, Coordinator for the Office of Reconstruction and Stabilization, Statement Before the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations: Stabilization and Reconstruction Operations Learning from the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) Experience (Oct. 30, 2007), available at (last visited November 19, 2009).

18. The Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2008, P.L. 110-252.

19. P.L. 111-8, Division H, commonly known as the FY09 Omnibus Bill

20. Op. Cit. at footnote 8.

21. National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2006, P.L 109-63, Sec 1207.

22. National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2006, P.L 109-63; Warner National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007, P.L. 109-366.

23. Interview with Ambassador Carlos Pascual, Vice President and Director of Foreign Policy Studies of the Brookings Institution, JFQ / issue 42, 3 d quarter 2006, "".

24. Ambassador John E. Herbst comments, October 27, 2008.

Table of Contents | Foreword | Introduction | Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3

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