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The Makings of a Civilian Surge? February 6, 2009

Posted by Molly in Analysis, News.
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Among growing demand for non-combat stabilization efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, the State Department is calling for qualified federal employees to help revamp its post-conflict reconstruction civilian capabilities. According to recent reports, State has begun recruiting members to serve in the Civilian Response Corps, hoping to fulfill 250 active-duty, 2,000 standby and 2,000 reserve personnel positions in fields ranging from administration to public health.

The hiring process is lagging, however, due to budgetary constraints. While the Bush Administration originally requested $248.6 million to finance the first year of the Civilian Stabilization Initiative (CSI) for 2009, the program has reportedly only received $55 million from the war supplemental approved last May.

This appears to be the initial build-up of civilian capacity that a recent Stimson Center/American Academy of Diplomacy joint report, “A Foreign Affairs Budget for the Future”, recommended. As the report explains, implementation of a civilian surge is not likely to begin until FY 2010, but the expanded capacity in 2009 will “provide a firmer basis for determining whether a robust FY 2010 request is justified.” AAD and Stimson proposed that the active response team should increase to 500 and the civilian reserve to 4,000 by FY 2014, which would require an estimated $286 million annually for the next five years.

Of course, this would require a significant shift in authority from Defense to State, and a substantial increase in the function 150 International Affairs budget. Up until now, DoD has dominated post-conflict reconstruction and stabilization, especially in Iraq and Afghanistan. If this is changing, then improving interagency coordination and efficiency must be an antecedent.

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