The Secretaries of State and Defense on S/CRS

Briefly, both Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates testified 15 April 2008 in front of the House Armed Services Committee.  I’ve been told, but haven’t confirmed, this is the first time the Secretary of State has been in front of HASC.  The Secretaries were testifying on “Building Partnership Capacity and the Development of the Interagency Process” and thus talking about Section 1206 and Section 1207 funding.

The Secretary of State described the structure of the Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization, S/CRS:

…I would be the first to say that our military did take on more tasks than perhaps would have been preferred, and we began some work when I was still National Security Advisor to think through how we might build a civilian institution that would be — would be up to the task. We have, as a result, a Civilian Stabilization Initiative. This initiative would create a rapid civilian response capacity for use in stabilization and reconstruction environments. It could be deployed alongside the military with international partners or on its own.

The Civilian Stabilization Initiative consists of three kinds of civilian responders: an active response corps [ARC] of diplomats and interagency federal employees who are selected and trained for this capability; a standby response corps [SRC] of federal employees; and finally, a civilian reserve corps [CRC] of private sector, local government and civil society experts with specialized skill sets.

And I might especially underscore the importance of this last component, because it is never going to be possible to keep within the environs of the State Department, or really even government agencies, the full range of expertise that one needs in state building; for instance, city planners or justice experts or police training experts. And so this civilian component, to be able to draw on the broader national community of experts, Americans who might wish to volunteer to go to a place like Afghanistan or Haiti or Liberia to help in state building, we think is an important innovation. The President talked about this in his State of the Union one year ago, and we are now ready to put that capacity into place. We have requested $248.6 million in the Presidents foreign assistance budget for the construction of that corps.

Yes, if you’ve been following along, there’s a new name here: Civilian Stabilization Initiative, or CSI (you may add your own joke about an association with the popular CBS show in the comments or via email if you so desire).  I’m confirming that CSI is just window dressingConfirmed: CSI is the name for the name for the FY09 budget request for the ARC, SRC, and CRC.

Now, the Secretary of Defense (click here for the submitted text) on the other hand spoke in general terms. 

I know members of the Committee also have questions about Section 1207, which currently allows Defense to transfer up to $100 million to State to bring civilian expertise to bear alongside our military. We recently agreed with State to seek a five-year extension and an increase in the authority to $200 million. A touchstone for the Defense Department is that 1207 should be for civilian support to the military – either by bringing civilians to serve with our military forces or in lieu of them.

That’s it for now.