Smart Power In Action

March 4, 2011 By Jane Kaminski

The State Department is putting smart power to work as signs of implementing the recent Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR) continue to emerge.  The QDDR emphasized the need to build capacity at the State Department for conflict prevention and stabilization, and the State Department recently released a new website for the Civilian Response Corps.  Ambassador Robert Loftis, Acting Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization, seeks to use this platform to explain the work of the Corps and attract skilled stabilization and conflict prevention workers from across the government to join its efforts.

In Secretary Clinton’s words, “The Civilian Response Corps puts smart power into action every day.  Your efforts help reduce conflict and prevent weak and failing states from becoming havens for terrorists… you, in effect, have become an army of peacebuilders.”   As directed by the QDDR, the previous Office of Reconstruction and Stabilization (S/CRS) will soon be elevated to Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations, with a new Under Secretary at the lead to help strengthen the State Department’s civilian presence in unstable countries.

State trains and deploys hundreds of civilians — diplomats, public health officials, lawyers, law enforcement officials, engineers, development specialists —  every year to key regions where they work to improve conditions, alleviate tensions, and diminish prospects for war.  The Civilian Response Corps currently brings together 1,220 men and women from nine US government agencies to quickly deploy the right combination of conflict response and prevention workers for each unique situation.  The nine participating agencies are:

  • Department of State
  • Department of Justice
  • Department of Agriculture
  • Department of Commerce
  • Department of Health and Human Services
  • Department of Transportation
  • Department of Energy
  • Department of Homeland Security
  • U.S. Agency for International Development

Active and standby corps members prepared for rapid deployment to regions of U.S. strategic importance where their skill sets are needed most.  Corps teams on the ground right now are working from embassies in fragile states and key partners like Afghanistan, Sudan, and the Kyrgyz Republic.