Security Sector Reform is a critical mission for the U.S. Department of State. In partnership with the U.S. Department of Defense, we help nations turn the page on past practices and establish effective and accountable security institutions that respect human rights and can positively contribute to promoting regional peace and security. As Nepal continues to emerge from a decade long civil conflict, these reform efforts are making a difference.
On November 21, 2006, a Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) ended a 10-year civil war with Maoist insurgents and abolished the monarchy. The conflict left Nepal with significant challenges, including internal population displacement and the decline of a once-vibrant tourism industry.
For Nepal's peace to survive, the new government also needed to enact robust reforms to rebuild its army, police, and other security forces, integrate thousands of Maoist combatants into the society, and establish a new national security strategy to guide the future development of Nepal's defense institutions. To many observers, these challenges put at risk the promise of a democratic, peaceful, and modern state.
Through the Foreign Military Financing (FMF) and International Military Education and Training (IMET) programs -- two of the Secretary of State's critical tools for engaging and supporting foreign militaries -- the Department's Bureau of Political-Military Affairs plays an active role in security sector reform. As part of our wider support for the peace process, the United States and Nepal formed the Security Sector Development Core Group in 2006. The Core Group brought diplomatic and defense expertise from the Departments of State and Defense to establish constructive civil-military dialogues among the Nepali Congress, the Maoists, and active duty and retired members of the security services. These discussions helped expand public participation and provided support for the development of improved federal institutions and an effective national security strategy. U.S. diplomatic personnel have facilitated the dialogues by helping to conduct over a dozen seminars on security, federalism, democratization, capacity building, and strategy formulation.
The civil-military dialogues have helped sustain Nepal's democratic transition by assisting the development of open and transparent discussion between security forces and broader Nepali society, including by contributing to the development of a five-point framework announced in Kathmandu last July to expedite the peace process and integrate former Maoist combatants into the Nepalese Army. The new Nepalese Army Security and Development Directorate is now poised to integrate up to 3,120 former Maoist combatants into the Nepalese Army.
U.S. support for Nepal's security sector reform efforts does more than advance Nepal's post-conflict recovery. By improving the country's defense institutions, such assistance can also enhance Nepal's role as a leading troop contributor for United Nations peacekeeping missions. Today, nearly 4,000 Nepali troops help keep the peace in Darfur, South Sudan, and nearly a dozen other peacekeeping missions around the world.
The Department is also using the FMF program to help Nepal meet vital security objectives, such as disaster response. U.S.-provided assistance, such as bulldozers, portable generators, and bridge sets, will help Nepal's newly restructured defense forces respond more effectively to earthquakes, floods, or other natural disasters in the Kathmandu Valley, reducing casualties and limiting economic interruption.
Considering the many challenges it continues to face, Nepal's progress in security sector reform has been impressive. Our support has helped set the conditions for Nepal's political, military, and civil society stakeholders to reach the societal consensus that can ensure the stability and security of the country for years to come.