Reconstruction and Stabilization: Civilian Deployments to Hot Spots

Posted by John Herbst
April 1, 2009

Ambassador John Herbst serves as the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization at the U.S. Department of State.

My name is John Herbst. I’m the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization in the Office of Reconstruction and Stabilization at the State Department. This is a relatively new office. It was created not quite five years ago, and it was created in response to the problems we ran into in Afghanistan, and especially Iraq, providing civilian oversight for the activities needed to rebuild those societies.

S/CRS was created to do two things: one, to organize all assets on the civilian side of the U.S. Government for conducting successful stabilization operations to make sure we had the right plan, the right implementation group, the right strategy to reconstruct society; two, we were organized to establish a Corps of civilians with the right skills needed to deploy into a crisis. S/CRS has come a long way in the last almost five years, and we are in the process right now of building a Civilian Response Corps of 600 people. We have also created a system for organizing the U.S. Government – we call it the Interagency Management System – which has been thoroughly tested, and parts of which have been used in real-life crises.

S/CRS has an office now of over 100 people. And we have deployed our people to hot spots around the world. They have seen action in Darfur, in eastern Chad, in Liberia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, Kosovo, Lebanon, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Our people have gone to these different places to do different things. For example, in Haiti, we helped train police. We helped provide the equipment and the wherewithal for police to return to Cité de Soleil, which is the principal slum in the city of Port-au-Prince, a slum which had no policing until we helped put police back there. We sent an expert on the rule of law to Liberia to help develop the legal system there to run in a way which we all consider to be fair. We’ve had our most important deployments in Afghanistan. We have had as many as 12 people on the ground there. We’ve helped every American Provincial Reconstruction Team write a plan of civilian operations.

At our urging, the last couple of months, our Embassy in Kabul stood up an interagency group, called the Interagency Civilian-Military Action group – the Integrated Civilian-Military Action group – to help ensure that all American efforts in Afghanistan were fully coordinated – the efforts of the Defense Department, USAID, the State Department, Justice Department, and so on.

S/CRS is looking for people to staff the Civilian Response Corps. The Civilian Response Corps will have employees from eight different agencies. We will have a special component (inaudible). The inner core of this is what we call the active component. These will be people who have no jobs but to deploy to places in crisis. We are looking for people who have the skills needed in a country which has a very poorly functioning government, who have a sense of adventure to join the Civilian Response Corps. We’re looking for people who are able to provide oversight in areas like engineering, the people involved in the rule of law, policemen, judges, corrections officials, attorneys. We’re looking for public administrators, public health officials, for city planners, port operators, agronomists. We’re looking for people with these skills, a sense of adventure, and willing to contribute to American national security by helping countries where we have great national security interests at stake to stabilize. This is the future, I think, of the State Department – this expeditionary capacity to put people on the ground in dangerous situations where American interests are on the line.



Jennifer S.
West Virginia, USA
April 1, 2009

Jennifer S. in West Virginia writes:

This is fascinating and exciting. I visited the link provided and read about the three components/levels of the Civilian Response Corps: active, standby and reserve.

In the description of the Reserve component, there is a note that this component has not yet been funded. However, I notice that some of this info may have been listed during the previous administration as it lists President Bush and SOS Condoleeza Rice. Has this situation changed? Do you now have funding for the Reserves? If not, when do you anticipate that you might?

Would you have a need for teachers, instructors, journalists and/or those who are adept at using and teaching others to use various forms of new media and social networking technology?

Maryland, USA
April 1, 2009

Patrick in Maryland writes:

Hi, John H. and other States Department People.

The Office of Reconstruction And Stabilization sounds like a great place to work. I think your office is going to have it's hands full. There are a lot of counties that are going to need your help Now and in the Future. I hope you find some very good people to work with you. Your work with afghanistan and other counties must be very exciting, helping to rebuild a country's infer Structure
sounds like an extremely hard job.

I hope your Work in Afghanistan has a successful ending.

Keep up the Good Job, your making a better World.

....Cya John :)

Tennessee, USA
April 1, 2009

Joe in Tennessee writes:

Wonderful idea...

...These will be people who have no jobs but to deploy to places in crisis..why does that sound familiar?

In any event, will these people be paid for their efforts, I don't quite understand. If they will be paid, at what GS level? If they will not be paid, what is the value?

Florida, USA
April 2, 2009

Charles in Florida writes:

Wonderful to see Barnett's SysAdmin Force ( being put into practice. The real questions are: how do you pull professionals into the public sector? Even if you can identify innovative, problem solving, and team-oriented individuals, how will you provide relevant and timely procedural and linguistic training to keep the STANDBY and RESERVE folks ready to deploy?

These questions aside, maybe its time I look more deeply into these positions

Colorado, USA
April 2, 2009

Jesse in Colorado writes:

Great Idea.

Where can one find out more info on the S/CRS. Are these positions paid or volunteer? What budget does this funding come out of?

Thanks for the post.

New Mexico, USA
April 2, 2009

Eric in New Mexico writes:

To John Herbst,

Some may consider this "the most rediculous item of the day" and some may see this as a microcosm of the human condition.

In any case I had no idea what catagory or thread this may apply to as no one's blogging from orbit, so forgive me for dumping this in your lap as it were.

In some strange way though, you may find relevance in your work that may provide a diplomatic solution to resolve a crisis in the making:


"The International Space Station, once a place where astronauts would share food and facilities, is said to be embroiled in a Cold War-like stand-off.

A Russian cosmonaut has complained he is no longer allowed to use a U.S. toilet as well as a U.S. exercise bike."


John, really this does not bode well for international cooperation....what if the Russian side of the station runs out of toilet paper? We won't share ours?

I know it's still April fool's and all, but I don't think this is a joke...

So please pass this on to the relevant dept @ state that deals with international space cooperation and ask 'em "What up with this?" if you'd be so kind.


Maryland, USA
April 6, 2009

Steve in Maryland writes:

Former PRT, Iraq. Senior Urban Planning Advisor, Salah ad Din. Primarily worked with MND-North on region-wide planning issues (roads, drought, improving understanding of national/provincial roles in Iraqi governmental essential services. Also worked with UNAMI Political Team, secunded from State.

Interested in helping, but have never seen any venues to do so.

North Carolina, USA
April 23, 2009

William in North Carolina writes:

construction engineer, inspector, superintendent looking for way to apply for position. 25+ years experience from nuclear power plant construction to schools and heavy commercial building. Any information on where and how to apply will be appreciated

Catherine S.
Pennsylvania, USA
May 8, 2009

Catherine S. in Pennsylvania writes:

Was part of the Defense Contingency Support Team in Iraq from Jun 06 thru Nov 06 working in the Subsistence arena. I have extensive contracting experience (DAWIA Level III). Am looking to volunteer for Afghanistan if possible but cannot find any information.


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