The U.S. Civilian Response Corps is a group of civilian federal employees who are specially trained and equipped to deploy rapidly to provide conflict prevention and stabilization assistance to countries in crisis or emerging from conflict. The Corps partners with host countries to address issues including governance, political conflict, and internal violence.
Ambassador Robert Loftis is acting Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization at the State Department, the office responsible for managing the Civilian Response Corps. He says, "What we’re trying to do in each of these countries is to help the local institutions, local government, local society find the solutions to their own problems," as it is ultimately their responsibility to pursue lasting solutions:
"We are operating in about 22 different countries right now. Our major focus over the last year has been in Afghanistan, Southern Sudan and Kyrgyzstan, but we range everywhere from Liberia over to Timor-Leste, to Nicaragua, Paraguay – basically operating across the full spectrum of conflict, whether it’s dealing with the actual response, in a place like Afghanistan, where we have a variety of programs, to working on prevention, helping our embassies identify those factors within a country that are truly driving a conflict."
This focus on preventing and responding to violent conflict and its aftermath, said Ambassador Loftis, safeguards larger humanitarian and development assistance across regions, which are essential to international security and stability:
"We can get ahead of the game and help these countries take the measures that are necessary to prevent conflict from becoming violent and channel it into the normal political, legal mechanism that we all take for granted here."
"The Civilian Response Corps puts smart power into action every day. [Its] efforts help reduce conflict and prevent weak and failing states from becoming havens for terrorists," says Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Successful partnerships with over 20 countries represent a quiet victory: countries taking gradual steps toward stability, often with U.S. help.