As the Department's primary link with the Pentagon, the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs is uniquely positioned in realizing Secretary Clinton and Defense Secretary Gates' vision of more effective integration of diplomacy, development, and defense in U.S. foreign policy. A key example can be found in how State and the Department of Defense work together to meet the growing global demand for soldiers, police officers, and diplomats to serve on international peacekeeping missions stabilizing some of the world's most challenging hotspots through our Global Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI).
This year at the UN General Assembly, both President Obama and Secretary Clinton emphasized the importance of reinvigorated peacekeeping operations in support of millions of people around the world struggling to stop the violence and work towards recovery in their countries.
"These missions can help contain and resolve conflicts that otherwise would engulf nations and regions," Secretary Clinton said during a special UN Security Council Summit on Peacekeeping September 23. "They can help prevent fragile states from becoming failed states and sources of wider instability. And they can help struggling countries start on the road to becoming productive partners."
To further this goal, the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs recently co-hosted the Sixth Annual GPOI Worldwide Conference in cooperation with the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Staff. The event brought together experts from across State and DoD, including five DoD Regional Combatant Commands (AFRICOM, CENTCOM, EUCOM, SOUTHCOM, and PACOM) to review current efforts and develop new proposals to further strengthen U.S. support for peacekeeping.
The United States has long been the world's top financial contributor to UN peacekeeping operations, providing on average more than one quarter of the international organization's budget to support more than 116,000 "blue berets," military, police, and civilians working to secure the peace and protect at-risk populations in 16 peacekeeping missions around the world.
In addition to this financial support, another key component to what we do is increased attention to "capacity building," or matching countries willing to provide military personnel for peacekeeping missions with the training, equipment, and support needed to get the job done. That's where GPOI comes in.
Launched following the 2004 G-8 Sea Island Summit in support of the G-8 Action Plan to Expand Global Capability for Peace Support Operations, GPOI currently provides training and other peacekeeping capacity building support to 59 partner countries and regional organizations, almost half of which are located in Africa.
While GPOI was initially envisioned to train and equip 75,000 foreign troops to serve as peacekeepers, it has already trained and equipped nearly 140,000 personnel. More than 110,000 troops from 29 GPOI partner countries have deployed to 19 UN, African Union, and other regional peace support operations around the world.
Earlier this year, we began building upon GPOI's success by launching the program's Phase II (running from Fiscal Years 2010 to 2014), during which we are shifting our focus from direct training by U.S. trainers to activities that increase the self-sufficiency of GPOI partners to train peacekeepers on their own. By doing so, GPOI will further multiply the number of future peacekeeping forces and empower partner countries to strengthen their own roles in the shared global challenge of increasing and sustaining peace.
It is in all of our interests to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of peacekeeping, and I am proud of how State and DoD are working together to make it happen. Through GPOI, increased diplomatic efforts to mediate conflicts, and U.S. engagement at the UN to further strengthen peacekeeping capabilities, the United States is ready now more than ever to do its part to promote peace.