Bureau of Political-Military Affairs

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The Bureau of Political-Military Affairs is an agency within the United States Department of State that bridges the Department of State with the Department of Defense. It provides policy in the areas of international security, security assistance, military operations, defense strategy and policy, military use of space, and defense trade. It is headed by the Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs who is currently Puneet Talwar.

According to the Department of State website, the Bureau secures military base access and overflight permission to support the deployment of U.S. military forces. It negotiates the status of U.S. military forces and International Criminal Court non-surrender agreements. It is also responsible for coordinating the participation of coalition combat and stabilization forces, and assisting other countries in reducing the availability of man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS), which are shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles.

The Bureau seeks to create and manage defense relationships with allies of the United States, regulate arms transfers, control access to military technology, and combat the illegal trafficking of small arms or light weapons. It also is responsible for training and equipping international peacekeepers and other military personnel.

The Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement within the Bureau of Political Affairs manages the Humanitarian Mine Action Program and publishes the SAFE PASSAGE: A Newsletter for the Humanitarian Mine Action and Small Arms/Light Weapons Communities. The office also publishes To Walk The Earth In Safety a publication that summarizes the current U.S. effort to rid the world of the most pressing land mine and ordnance problems in a country-by-country format. Finally they have published a number of Press Releases that describe ongoing efforts within those communities and the Office's efforts in support of these aims. The United Nations Mine Action Centre defines "mine action" as removing land mines from the ground, assisting victims, and also teaching people how to protect themselves from danger in environments affected by land mines. In addition to promoting public and private mine action partnerships, the Bureau works with the Department of Defense to provide assistance in the event of natural disasters.

Current offices within the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs include the Office of Regional Security and Arms Transfers, the Office of Plans, Policy and Analysis, the Office of International Security Operations, the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement, the Office of the POLAD Coordinator, the Office of Security Negotiations and Agreements, and the Office of the Coordinator for Counter-Piracy and Maritime Security.

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