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U.S. Expanding Its Civilian Response Corps

In Afghanistan, a Civilian Response Corps member (left) walks with Kandahar Governor Toorylai Wesa (center). The Corps worked closely with the governor on governance and development issues in Kandahar Province in 2010.

For many years, the United States has been committed to helping other nations at risk of, or emerging from, crisis or conflict.

For many years, the United States has been committed to helping other nations at risk of, or emerging from, crisis or conflict. Such instability poses a threat to their citizens and their neighbors. Extremists and transnational criminals can use these states as havens that can pose a global threat.

While the U.S. military has carried out stabilization missions in countries in crisis, experience has demonstrated that they are best led by civilian government organizations. And so in 2008, a new organization, the U.S. Civilian Response Corps, was formed to develop a non-military response capability.

The Civilian Response Corps pulls together conflict and stabilization experts from several U.S. government agencies, who bring diverse expertise in key sectors needed for effective crisis response. Hailing from organizations as diverse as the Department of Agriculture and the Agency for International Development, Corps members bring valuable skills in responding to complex crises and in stabilizing governments in countries around the world. On February 11, a ninth U.S. agency, the Department of Transportation, joined the program. Its experience in infrastructure planning as well as aviation, maritime and rail systems makes it a valued addition to the effort.

In less than three years, the CRC has grown to include more than 1,000 civilian U.S. government workers. Over 130 have been hired specifically to be ready to perform stabilization missions overseas at a moment’s notice. The rest are volunteers from across the participating agencies who are willing to deploy abroad if and when their skills are needed. From Bangladesh to Afghanistan, Panama to Timor-Leste, they have traveled to 30 nations in need, supporting U.S. efforts to help deliver health care, provide infrastructure, strengthen agriculture and improve other government services. In Southern Sudan, the Corps now is helping local governments resolve internal disputes and prepare for independence as a result of their historic referendum on self-determination.

Increased attention to crisis response and conflict prevention overseas is a key part of our nation's effort to promote global stability. Now, with the addition of these new transportation experts, the U.S. commitment to crisis response becomes even stronger.