Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization

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The Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization (S/CRS) is a United States Department of State Office that coordinates United States' governmental reconstruction and stabilization efforts in developing countries before, during, and after armed conflict.

Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction & Stabilization

Seal of the Department of State

Established: August 15, 2004
Coordinator: Robert Geers Loftis
Budget: $249 Million FY 2009
Employees: 170+ permanent positions, detailees, and contractors; 23 are in the Civilian Response Corps

On November 22, 2011, the Department of State announced the creation of the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations, with which the Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization will be integrated.[1]


The Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization was created to handle issues relating to conflict. The office is responsible for coordinating federal government efforts relating to countries at risk of or in conflict, a core competency of the Department of State but not a competency recognized through the institutionalization of a dedicated office within the department.[2] In 2004 the office was created in response to experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan and lessons learned demonstrating the need for improved coordination between civilian organizations and the military.[3]

The President signed NSPD-44 in Dec. 2005 to outline responsibilities of the office. Title XVI of Public Law 110-417, The Reconstruction and Stabilization Civilian Management Act of 2008, codified these responsibilities and authorized the creation of a Civilian Response Corps. The current Coordinator is Robert Geers Loftis, and in his capacity reports directly to the Secretary of State. In addition to 2004 legislation the Department of Defense issued its own directive, 3000.05, establishing the importance of civilian operations through policy which was given similar priority to combat operations.[4]


S/CRS was designed to lead, coordinate and institutionalize U.S. government civilian capacity to prevent or prepare for post-conflict situations, and to help stabilize and reconstruct societies in transition from conflict or civil strife, so they can reach a sustainable path toward peace, democracy and a market economy.[5]

Department of Defense Synergy[edit]

S/CRS leverages cooperative agreements with organizations such as the National Defense University, U.S. Army War College, Naval Postgraduate School and Naval War College for training and exercises. For operational support the office holds enabling relationships with United States military combatant commands (AFRICOM, EUCOM, SOCOM, SOUTHCOM, CENTCOM, PACOM). Humanitarian, stabilization and reconstruction teams interoperate with Defense Department regional combatant commands to provide unique capabilities for environments at risk of or in conflict. The concepts call for incorporating civilian expertise in military missions from planning to combat operations to stability and reconstruction. Responsibility for operations quickly transitions from the military to the civilian following and during the combat operations stage in preparation for stability and reconstruction. Experts have commented that a goal of the office is to provide the Department of Defense with a viable exit strategy for complex operations. Expertise is developed through exercises and training conducted in order to ready civilians and military for complex operations.[6]

Cooperation with the International Community[edit]

S/CRS has forged partnerships with leading international organizations and participates and hosts international workshops, dialogues, meetings and training sessions to reach reconstruction and stabilization goals. Key partners include similar institutions in the United Kingdom (the Stabilisation Unit) and Canada (the Stabilization and Reconstruction Task Force - START).[7] A source of particular success has historically been the coordination of collective deployments and assessments for conflict prone countries. In consultation with think tanks, non-governmental organizations and reconstruction and stabilization practitioners, the office readies itself through development of concepts and the sharing of best practices. Coordinating strategic planning is conducted in cooperation with international financial institutions, regional organizations in key countries, the United Nations, European Union, G-8, OSCE and NATO.[8]

Examples of past engagements with the International Community:[9]

Reconstruction & Stabilization Tools[edit]

Interagency Conflict Assessment Framework[edit]

The Interagency Conflict Assessment Framework (ICAF) is a paradigm that is used to help governmental entities, departments and agencies work together to reach a shared understanding of a country’s conflict dynamics and consensus on potential entry points. This assessment provides for a deeper understanding of the underlying conflict dynamics in a country or region and may lead to additional U.S. government efforts. The ICAF is a recognized component of interagency planning that complements and avoids replicating existing analyses such as instability watch lists, diplomatic reporting and intelligence.[12]

The ICAF is a first step within planning, a process that, under the direction of the integrated management system, is a preparatory process combining combatant command multinational headquarters with civilian planning cells. Using whole of government resources the ICAF represents a situational assessment which leads to the formulation of policy advisory memos and statements. A concluding outcome is implementation at the regional military command level incorporating one or more of a variety of actors in theatre including non government organizations, United Nations Missions, or region specific organizations such as the African Union or the Economic Community of West African States. [13]

Interagency Management System[edit]

The Interagency Management System goes into effect when policy is being implemented, missions are being conducted and operations are in an applied state. IMS incorporates unity of action drawing on relevant departments and agencies to perform planning operations, mobilize resources, harmonize efforts with the military and integrate plans and activities. The current three tiered approach consists of a country reconstruction & stabilization group, an integration planning cell and an advance civilian team. [14]

  • Country Reconstruction & Stabilization Group: A Washington D.C. based counterpart supported by a full-time interagency Secretariat and co-chaired by a National Security Council Director, the Coordinator for Reconstruction & Stabilization and a State Department regional Assistant Secretary.
  • Integration Planning Cell: Deployable interagency planners and regional and sector experts tasked with integrating and moderating support between civilian and military agencies.
  • Advance Civilian Team: A deployable logistics and interagency management team that supports the chief of mission through developing, executing and monitoring plans.

The goal of IMS is to coordinate efficiently in post-conflict situations. To ensure a level of symmetry and coherency the framework focuses on assisting with and supporting the chief of mission’s decision making processes. The framework relies on academic models and input from the United States Agency for International Development has provided a valuable addition creating an interagency methodology to assess instability and conflict. The planning framework has already been used in U.S. interagency planning for Sudan, Haiti, and Cuba, and S/CRS has just begun facilitating interagency planning for Kosovo. [15]

Guiding Principles for Stabilization and Reconstruction[edit]

The Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction & Stabilization has established a set of baseline principles that can help improve U.S. interagency cooperation, along with cooperation with partners at home and abroad. The principles are introduced in a strategic roadmap for civilians published by the United States Institute of Peace and the U.S. Army Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute. The Guiding Principles for Stabilization and Reconstruction is a complementary manual to the U.S. Army’s Field Manual 3-07: Stability Operations, which established the U.S. military’s role in reconstruction and stabilization. The framework identified in the manual offers a critical tool for educating and training the hundreds of officers in the active, standby and reserve components of the U.S. Department of State’s Civilian Response Corps.[16]

The guiding principles manual offers two important contributions: 1) a comprehensive set of shared principles and 2) a shared strategic framework. The strategic framework is the cornerstone of the manual and is based on a validated construct of common end states, necessary conditions and major approaches. It embraces five shared end states for stabilization and reconstruction missions: a safe and secure environment, rule of law, stable governance, a sustainable economy and social well-being.[17]

The manual has been identified as a practical roadmap for helping countries transition from violent conflict to peace. In consultation with NATO planners, British stabilizers, UN peacebuilders and other key partners, the manual’s lead writer, United States Institute of Peace’s Beth Cole approaches the manual’s content as seeking to fill a gap, providing guidance for civilian planners and practitioners that has been identified as being long overdue.[18] The manual contains input of major strategic policy documents from state ministries of defense, foreign affairs and development. The viewpoints of organizations that operate in conflict prone environments are represented and include major intergovernmental and nongovernmental organizations, indicative of the collaborative efforts required to confront reconstruction and stabilization scenarios.[19]

Whole of Government Planning[edit]

A primary responsibility of the Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization is to carry out a conflict affected nation’s reconstruction and stabilization efforts and synchronize government agencies through whole of government planning. This process is goal driven, cause and effect based, able to be partitioned, highly structured and measurable. The process also integrates civilian and military capabilities and focuses on strengthening and legitimatizing a host nation’s government.[20]

The Department of State’s Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization has been authorized by Congress to oversee the inception and execution of whole of government planning. Current legislation has empowered the office to perform planning processes in foreign states and regions at risk of, in or in transition from conflict. The combined expertise and powers vested in the office allows planning that is flexible, appropriately resourced, strategy-driven, operationally focused and rapidly deployable.[21]

Many of the principles that have been acknowledged as standard procedure are cross cutting principles adopted and modified from military doctrine adapted to the requirements of the United States Government interagency. Implementation models have identified the distinction between military and civilian operations and have incorporated the necessary considerations for operating in environments where the military is not present. While the underlying framework is similar, military and civilian reconstruction and stabilization missions differ on the level of detail, timing and personnel. The framework that describes the specific steps in the planning process includes:[22]

Reconstruction & Stabilization S/CRS Planning [23]

  • Situation Analysis: Analyze the current environment for the reconstruction and stabilization operation
  • Policy Formulation: Articulate clear policy options which associate risks and benefits
  • Strategy Development: Determine how the reconstruction and stabilization operation will address the prioritization, sequencing and cross-sector linkages of efforts
  • Implementation: Help agencies analyze programs, track performance and adapt plans

Essential Task Matrix[edit]

S/CRS has developed an essential task matrix that builds on Winning the peace: an American strategy for post-conflict reconstruction. The matrix is a tool used by planners which allows them to prioritize the tasks that are of critical importance in a stabilization and reconstruction environment. The current task matrix divides responsibilities into five categories, security, governance and participation, humanitarian assistance and social well-being, economic stabilization and infrastructure, and justice and reconciliation. These tasks are further divided in terms of importance into sections: Initial Response (short-term), Transformation (mid-term), and Fostering Sustainability (long-term).[24]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Department of State. "Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations". United States Department of State. Retrieved 22 November 2011. 
  2. ^ (Interagency Dialogue: The Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization)
  3. ^ (Developing the United States Government’s Interagency Management System for Reconstruction and Stabilization: A Work in Progress)
  4. ^ (Developing the United States Government’s Interagency Management System for Reconstruction and Stabilization: A Work in Progress)
  5. ^ (The Department of State A 3-D Perspective)
  6. ^ (The State Department Office of Reconstruction and Stabilization and Its Interaction with the Department of Defense)
  7. ^ Established in 2005 within Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada (
  8. ^ (Transforming Conflict Management: Presentation to NDU International Fellows)
  9. ^ (Transforming Conflict Management: Presentation to NDU International Fellows)
  10. ^ (Evolving USG Expeditionary Civilian Reconstruction and Stabilization Capabilities)
  11. ^ (Post-Conflict Stability Operations and the Department of State)
  12. ^ (Assessing Conflict: A Prerequisite for Interagency Planning & Response)
  13. ^ (We Live in Exponential Times” Interagency to Whole-of-Government)
  14. ^ (The State of Play in Interagency Planning for Complex Operations)
  15. ^ (Developing the United States Government’s Interagency Management System for Reconstruction and Stabilization: A Work in Progress)
  16. ^ (“Guiding Principles for Stabilization and Reconstruction”: A Strategic Roadmap for Peace)
  17. ^ (Ask Beth Cole about "Guiding Principles for Stabilization and Reconstruction")
  18. ^ (Guiding Principles for Stabilization and Reconstruction )
  19. ^ (United States Institute of Peace and PKSOI unveil new book titled: The Guiding Principles for Stabilization and Reconstruction)
  20. ^ (U.S. Government Counterinsurgency Guide)
  21. ^ (Report On Improving Interagency Support for United States 21st Century National Security Missions and Interagency Operations in Support of Stability, Security, Transition, and Reconstruction Operations)
  22. ^ (Principles of the USG Planning Framework for Reconstruction, Stabilization and Conflict Transformation)
  23. ^ (Principles of the USG Planning Framework for Reconstruction, Stabilization and Conflict Transformation)
  24. ^ (Reconstruction and Stabilization Essential Tasks)

External links[edit]