About the Authors: Elizabeth Minor works for the Coordinator for Reconstruction & Stabilization at the Department of State and Matt Shugert works in the Office of Civilian Response at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
The Civilian Response Corps is gearing up – literally. With over 500 Standby members recruited and 50 new Active members hired (with 200 more on the way), the initiative is moving full steam ahead. However, recruiting, hiring, and training these rapid responders is only half of the story. The men and women of the Civilian Response Corps will be deployed to some of the most isolated and restricted overseas locations and will need specialized equipment to support them in the field.
The Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development are purchasing a variety of individual and team equipment to facilitate rapid deployment of Corps members. There is enough individual equipment to support the deployment of 250 Civilian Response Corps members, from both the Active and Standby components. This equipment includes:
• Team medical kits, solar powered equipment rechargers, and office start-up kits. These items will allow Corps members to remain as resource-neutral as possible and avoid placing a burden on the receiving embassy.
• Protective gear. Items such as ballistic protective vests, helmets, and fire retardant gloves will help protect Corps members from many of the dangers of serving in non-permissive environments.
• Fully armored vehicles. Corps members will be able to maintain freedom of movement in semi and non-permissive environments through use of the twenty-eight fully armoured vehicles that are scheduled for delivery in 2010. The vehicles will also be available for use by other U.S. Government employees supporting reconstruction and stabilization missions abroad.
• Mobile communications equipment. The Corps deploys a variety of completely self-contained, solar-powered packages available to keep Corps members in constant contact with Washington and others in the field when they are working away from post.
Corps members will be trained on the use of this equipment in the newly designed Security for Non-Traditional Operating Environments (SNOE), a course that emphasizes hands-on application of skills and aims to replicate the stresses and conditions that Corps members might experience in the field. (Read Civilian Response Corps member Eythan Sontag’s DipNote entry about the course here.)
From the Darfur in Sudan’s isolated west, to Colombia, members of the Civilian Response Corps have been, and will continue to be, at the forefront of challenging reconstruction and stabilization missions; and their equipment needs to be just as versatile and expeditionary as they are.