Defense Contracting

“The Future of Stability Operations” Video Now Online

“The Future of Stability Operations: Lessons from Afghanistan for Syria, Ukraine, and Beyond,” with Dr. Paul Miller.

Dr. Paul D. Miller is the Associate Director of the Clements Center for History, Strategy, and Statecraft at The University of Texas at Austin.  Previously, he was political scientist in the National Security Research Division at the RAND Corporation. He served as Director for Afghanistan and Pakistan on the National Security Council staff from 2007 through September 2009. Prior to joining RAND, Miller was an assistant professor at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C., where he developed and directed the College of International Security Affairs’ South and Central Asia Program. He also worked as an analyst in the Central Intelligence Agency’s Office of South Asian Analysis, and served in Afghanistan as a military intelligence analyst with the US Army.

The Future of Stability Operations, with Dr. Paul D. Miller

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WHAT: “The Future of Stability Operations: Lessons from Afghanistan for Syria, Ukraine, and Beyond.”

WHO: Dr. Paul D. Miller, Associate Director, Clements Center for History, Strategy, and Statecraft, University of Texas at Austin

WHEN: Sept. 16, 2014 | Noon – 1:30 p.m.

WHERE: SU Maxwell School | Eggers 060 (Global Collaboratory)


Paul_MillerDr. Paul D. Miller is the Associate Director of the Clements Center for History, Strategy, and Statecraft at The University of Texas at Austin.  Previously, he was political scientist in the National Security Research Division at the RAND Corporation. He served as Director for Afghanistan and Pakistan on the National Security Council staff from 2007 through September 2009. Prior to joining RAND, Miller was an assistant professor at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C., where he developed and directed the College of International Security Affairs’ South and Central Asia Program. He also worked as an analyst in the Central Intelligence Agency’s Office of South Asian Analysis, and served in Afghanistan as a military intelligence analyst with the US Army.

Miller holds a Ph.D. in international relations and a B.A. in government from Georgetown University and a master’s in public policy from Harvard University. He is the author of Armed State Building (Cornell University Press, 2013), a study of the causes of success and failure in reconstruction and stabilization operations. His writing has appeared in Foreign Affairs, The National Interest, Studies in Intelligence, Presidential Studies Quarterly, and Small Wars and Insurgencies.


Everett Speaker Series

An additional aspect of Syracuse University Institute for Security Policy and Law’s CAS in PCR graduate program is the David F. Everett Postconflict Reconstruction Speaker Series, which brings established, widely known PCR experts to SU to deliver a lecture and to meet with students in the certificate program.

Elections, Violence, and Apathy: Crisis in the Congo, with Jason Stearns

Oct. 4, 2018 | Jason Stearns, Director, Congo Research Group, New York University

Director of the Congo Research Group at New York University Jason Stearns spoke at the Maxwell School on “Elections, Violence, and Apathy: Crisis in the Congo.” Stearns is author of Dancing in the Glory of Monsters: The Collapse of the Congo and the Great War of Africa, which is described as “A ‘tremendous,’ ‘intrepid’ history of the devastating war in the heart of Africa’s Congo.”

Jason Stearns

Designing Coercive Institutions in Postconflict Settings

Oct. 24, 2017 | Erica de Bruin, Assistant Professor of Government, Hamilton College

Erica de Bruin explained that in certain cases, peace treaties signed after internal strife and civil war can have the deleterious effect of causing coups d’etat down the line, especially when rebel soldiers are integrated with state security forces, an outcome that must be addressed in postconflict settings.

Erica de Bruin

Film Screening: Khoon diy Baarav (“Blood Leaves Its Trail”)

Oct. 4, 2017 | With filmmaker Iffat Fatima

The conflict in Kashmir is among the long-standing political conflicts in the world. It has taken a heavy toll on lives, on sanity and on the idea of normalcy. The film Khoon Diy Baarav made over nine years, enters the vexed political scenario in Kashmir through the lives of families of the victims of enforced disappearances. It explores memory as a mode of resistance, constantly confronting reality and morphing from the personal to the political, the individual to the collective.

So, You Want to Work in International Development? What Every Job Hunter Should Know

Nov. 3, 2016 | Dana Abro (MPA ’09), Regional Security Adviser, Peace Corps

Abro spoke to students about her experiences with her international development career; what students should expect when job hunting; and how best to take advantage of their experience, degree, and networks. Currently a Regional Security Adviser for the Peace Corps, Abro is a former Program Analyst at the International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program (ICITAP).

Dana Abro

Corruption: Sand in the Gears of Afghan Reconstruction

Oct. 20, 2016 | John F. Sopko, Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction

Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction John Sopko was a special guest of SPL on Oct. 20, 2016. Sopko was accompanied by his Congressional Liaison Alex Hackbarth (MPA/MAIR ’15), an SPL alumna. Speaking in the Maxwell School, Sopko discussed the oversight role of his organization, its efforts to control corruption in Afghanistan and to account for US aid dollars, and how, when it comes to tracking development efforts, “sunshine is the best disinfectant,” meaning that oversight and the press it generates provide disincentives for corrupt public officials and shady contractors.

John Spoko

“Fight the Disease, Not Just the Symptom:” Why Good Governance is Essential to Countering Extremism

Feb. 29, 2016 | Sarah Chayes, Senior Associate, Democracy and Rule of Law Program, South Asia Program, Carnegie Endowment

Sarah Chayes is a Senior Associate in the Democracy and Rule of Law Program and the South Asia Program at the Carnegie Endowment. Formerly special adviser to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, she is an expert in South Asia policy, kleptocracy and anticorruption, and civil-military relations. She is working on correlations between acute public corruption and the rise of militant extremism.

A former reporter, she covered the fall of the Taliban for NPR, then left journalism to remain in Kandahar in order to contribute to the reconstruction of the country, living there almost continuously since December 2001. After running a nongovernmental organization founded by President Karzai’s brother Qayum, Chayes launched a manufacturing cooperativethat produces skin-care products for export from licit local agriculture. The goals were to help revive the region’s historic role in exporting fruit and its derivatives, promote sustainable development, and expand alternatives to the opium economy. Deeply embedded in the life of the city and fluent in Pashtu, Chayes gained a unique perspective on the unfolding war.


State-Building & Non-State Armed Actors in Somalia

Nov. 3, 2015 | Ken Menkhaus, Professor of Political Science, Davidson College

Ken Menkhaus will discuss his recent research on Somalia; the efforts to build a stable state in this troubled Horn of Africa country, despite ongoing conflict; how the “commodification of security sector work” challenges state-building; and the connection between security and development.

Menkhaus has extensive knowledge of these topics, having served as Special Political Advisor in the UN Operation in Somalia; as a visiting civilian professor at the US Army Peacekeeping Institute in 1994-1995; and as a visiting scholar at the US Army Strategic Studies Institute in 2011-2012. In 2004, he received a United States Institute of Peace grant for his research on armed conflict in the Horn of Africa.


Rule of Law Missions in Iraq & Afghanistan

Oct. 6, 2015 | COL Steven Henricks, Army War College Fellow, US Office of the Director of National Intelligence

Col. Steven Henricks discussed Rule of Law missions he has been involved with during his military career, including his observations on tensions between various actors in these missions. Discrete examples from three different units with which he has worked lead to a series of “lessons learned.” He explained how his experiences highlight a need to re-focus Rule of Law efforts with more emphasis on local sensitivities.


Pirates & Militants & Smugglers: What I Did On My (Latest) USG Vacation

March 31, 2015 | CDR John Fritz (JD/MAIR ’06), US Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa

SPL alumnus CDR John Fritz discussed his experiences with the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA), a dynamic operational headquarters, effectively countering violent extremist organizations in East Africa. A Naval Reserve Officer, Fritz’s latest assignment was as Deputy Director of Plans/Global Force Management and Branch Chief for Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA). Fritz also is an associate attorney with Hamberger & Weiss in Rochester, NY.


Problem: World Disorder/Needed: Guiding Principles for Stabilization & Reconstruction

Oct. 30 2014 | Beth Cole, Director, Office of Civil-Military Cooperation, US Agency for International Development

Beth Cole was appointed as the Director of the Office of Civil-Military Cooperation at the US Agency for International Development (USAID) by President Barack Obama in 2012.  In this capacity, she is responsible for managing the relationship between USAID and the US Department of Defense. Cole directs a 47-member staff of Senior Development Advisors posted to the five geographic combatant commands, Special Operations Command, and the Pentagon, as well as military liaisons posted to USAID from the Commands and the Services and a civil and foreign service planning and support staff.


The Future of Stability Operations: Lessons from Afghanistan for Syria, Ukraine, and Beyond

Sept. 16, 2014 | Dr. Paul Miller, Associate Director of the Clements Center for History, Strategy, and Statecraft, University of Texas-Austin

Dr. Paul D. Miller is the Associate Director of the Clements Center for History, Strategy, and Statecraft at The University of Texas at Austin.  Previously, he was political scientist in the National Security Research Division at the RAND Corporation. He served as Director for Afghanistan and Pakistan on the National Security Council staff from 2007 through September 2009. Prior to joining RAND, Miller was an assistant professor at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C., where he developed and directed the College of International Security Affairs’ South and Central Asia Program.


Greening in the Red Zone

Feb. 26, 2014 | Keith Tidball, Senior Extension Associate, Department of Natural Resources, Cornell University

Keith Tidball, Senior Extension Associate in Cornell University’s Department of Natural Resources, asserts that creating and accessing green spaces confers resilience and recovery in systems disrupted by conflict or disaster. Tidball is the co-editor of Greening in the Red Zone, an edited volume that provides evidence for this assertion through cases studies from Afghanistan, Soweto, New Orleans, Kenya, Cameroon, Cyprus, and Bosnia-Herzegovina.


Legal Advice in a Combat Zone: Supporting the Army in Multinational/Joint Forces Combat and Peacekeeping Operations and the Bilateral Security Agreement

Feb. 19, 2014 | COL James McKee ’88, L ’91

COL James McKee discussed his recent experience as the Deputy Staff Judge Advocate of US Forces-Afghanistan, his role in drafting the Bilateral Security Agreement between the US and Afghanistan, and his work with Deputy US Ambassador James Warlick’s negotiating team.


Making Stability Operations Smarter: Innovations for Fragile Environments

Nov. 12, 2013 | Morgan Courtney, Burma (Mynamar) Engagement Lead, Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations, US Department of State

Morgan Courtney is the Burma (Myanmar) Engagement Lead at the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations at the US Department of State (DOS), where she manages a team of conflict specialists in the field and in Washington who focus on peace, conflict, and reconciliation in Burma.

Before this appointment, she served as the Special Assistant to the Special Representative and Policy Coordinator for Burma at the DOS, where she handled a broad array of security, political, economic, and conflict/reconciliation issues at a critical point in Burma’s democratic transition. Before that, she served as a Special Assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the Chairman’s Action Group, where she helped to provide guidance on a range of issues, including Syria, the Asia-Pacific rebalance, women in combat, and security assistance reform.

Exposing One of Our Flanks: Failures in US Security Sector Reform in Afghanistan and Lessons for Future US Foreign Engagements

April 23, 2013 | Erik Leklem, Senior Advisor for Global Defense Reform in the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Partnership Strategy and Stability Operations

The success of US policy in Afghanistan and our reputation in the region is at risk, but in a mission area that is not widely understood: security ministry development and capacity building. Without capable, civilian-led security ministries, Afghanistan’s security forces may be exploited by malign actors, be less combat effective, and fracture along ethnic lines, especially after Transition in 2014.

The Future of Security Sector Reform

April 10, 2012 | Mark Sedra, Senior Fellow, Center for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) and Research Scholar, University of Waterloo, Canada

Sedra directs all of CIGI’s Security Sector Governance Projects, which produce field-based research and analysis on numerous ongoing war-to-peace transitions, including those in Afghanistan, Burundi, Haiti, Southern Sudan and Timor-Leste. In addition to his work at CIGI, Mark is a research scholar in the University of Waterloo’s department of political science and a faculty member at the Balsillie School of International Affairs. He is a member of the International Security Sector Advisory Team, an initiative developed at the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of the Armed Forces. 

A Crisis of Trust

April 5, 2012 | A Panel Discussion of the Challenges and Prospects for Sustained Security Force Assistance to Afghanistan

This panel of distinguished subject-matter experts reflected on their recent experiences working as embedded advisors to the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) and discuss what is necessary to salvage and regain the trust necessary for any long term strategic partnership and sustained security assistance beyond the projected end of combat operations in 2013.

  • Maj. Fernando Lujan, US Army Special Forces Officer and Visiting Fellow, Center for a New American Security; Afghan-Pakistan Hands Program
  • Cpt. Tlaloc Cutroneo, US Army Intel Officer; Former Special Operations Police Advisor for Afghan Civil Order Police; and Police Officer (Gang Unit), Boston Police Department
  • Cpt. Russell Galeti, US Army Infantry Officer and former Embedded Advisor to Afghan National Army
  • Lucas Tomlinson, Research Manager, Human Terrain System, US Department of Defense

 Building the Rule of Law from the Bottom-Up

Feb. 15, 2012 | A Video-Teleconference with US Army Brigade Leaders and Afghan Prosecutors

Professor David Crane (College of Law/SPL) moderated a video-teleconference with key leaders and JAG officers from the 3rd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division (Fort Drum, NY) and Afghan prosecutors from the Zharay District of Kandahar Province.

UN Perspectives on Postconflict Reconstruction

Dec. 6, 2011 | Pedro Medrano Rojas, Director, World Food Programme’s New York Office

Rojas was appointed Director of the World Food Programme’s New York Office in July 2009. Prior to this appointment, he was the WFP Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean. Earlier, he served as the WFP Representative to India and Regional Manager for Southeast Asia. Medrano previously served as Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Chile to the FAO, IFAD, and WFP in Rome, beginning in 1993 until 1998. Between 1995 and 1997, he was President of the World Committee on Food Security, where he presided over the preparations for the World Food Summit held in November 1996 in Rome, Italy.

Transition & Reconstruction: Evolving US-Afghan Partnerships

Nov. 9, 2011 | Afghan Gov. Iqbal Azizi, Laghman Province, and Miguel Sapp (SU Law ’88; MPA ’89), Director, Laghman Provincial Reconstruction Team

SPL welcomed Afghan Governor Iqbal Azizi and Miguel Sapp for a discussion on the evolving nature of U.S. and Afghan partnerships.

God Grew Tired of Us

July 13, 2011 | Film Screening

John Dau, Founder, John Dau Foundation (Transforming Healthcare in South Sudan)

Building Capacity and Legitimacy in the Afghan Security Forces: Recent Experiences of the 10th Mountain Division in Afghanistan

April 12, 2011 | Panel Discussion

A panel of key leaders from the 2-22 Infantry Battalion (1st Brigade, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum), which spent the last year mentoring, instructing, and advising members of the Afghan National Army (ANA) under the charge of the NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan. Members of the panel will share their recent lessons learned in building ANA capacity and legitimacy in the midst of a complex counterinsurgency.

The Role of NGOs in Postconflict Zones

Nov. 30, 2010 | Rudy von Bernuth, Vice President and Managing Director, Children in Emergencies and Crisis, Save the Children

The Power of Hope

Oct. 18, 2010 | Film Screening

With Gabriel Bol Deng, Founder, Helping Offer Primary Education (HOPE) for Sudan

The UN in Postconflict Countries: Mandates, Missions, and Minefields

April 8, 2010 | Tim Sisk, Director, Center for Sustainable Development and International Peace and Director, Humanitarian Assistance Certificate Program

Professor Tim Sisk discusses UN peace operations and what can be done to dramatically improve the capacity of the UN to more effectively address the challenges of consolidating peace after civil war.

Weak States and Global Threats: What Are the Connections?

Feb. 25, 2010 | Stewart Patrick, Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations

Particularly since Sept. 11, 2001, it has been commonplace to assert that the main threats to the US and the world community emanate less from great powers than from weak and failing states. Yet surprisingly little empirical research has investigated the precise connections between weak governance in the developing world and today’s main transnational threats. Is it true that state fragility contributes to transnational spillovers like terrorism, WMD proliferation, organized crime, and infectious disease? What is the nature of these linkages—and what can be done about them? 

Roles and Perspectives of Non-State Armed Groups in Post-War Security Transition

Oct. 26, 2009 | Veronique Dudouet, Researcher, Berghof Research Center for Constructive Conflict Management

Veronique Dudouet is a researcher at the Berghof Research Center for Constructive Conflict Management in Berlin, Germany. She will address the roles that rebel and insurgency movements play in the termination of armed conflicts and the building of a more peaceful and stable political and social order. Her presentation will draw on preliminary findings from an ongoing participatory action research project with members of various non-state groups around the globe.

Security First: US Priorities in Israeli-Palestinian Peacemaking

April 17, 2009 | Gen. Montgomery C. Meigs, Ph.D., USA (Ret.), SU Visiting Professor of Strategy & Military Operations

Five Critical Steps for Improving Postconflict Operations

March 2, 2009 | Dr. Karin von Hippel, Co-Director, Post-Conflict Reconstruction Project, Center for Strategic and International Studies

Van Slyke, Armstrong Quoted in Washington Times

Contracting Officers Given Overly High Marks by Army

(The Washington Times, June 19, 2014) Army contracting apparently is like the schools at Lake Wobegon—everybody is above average.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers fell victim to the biggest bid-rigging scandal in the history of federal procurement in 2011—the same year the Army’s cadre of more than 5,600 contracting officers received unusually stellar job ratings.

Out of 5,670 contracting officers, just two received an unsatisfactory performance rating in fiscal 2011, while more than 60 percent of the Army’s procurement workers were given the highest rating of “role models,” according to a previously undisclosed 2013 Army Audit Agency review that found “there are few, if any, consequences for unfavorable contracting practices.”

Even personnel working in “high-risk” offices often managed to score above-average job-performance ratings, according to the report, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, which officials said signaled widespread problems of job ratings in government reviews …

… “It’s very, very hard to believe there were only two low performers among 5,600,” said [INSCT Faculty Member] David Van Slyke, a professor at Syracuse University and co-author of Complex Contracting, which investigates the Coast Guard’s multibillion-dollar Deepwater modernization program.

He said correct job ratings are critical to making sure the government is getting value for its money.

“This is where you need strong performance evaluations to make sure you’re both attracting the best talent and keeping the best talent,” he said. “We can’t afford not to have good people in those roles when we’re spending more than a half-trillion dollars a year buying products and services.”

Indeed, the Army auditors said with so many contracting offers rated so highly, it’s hard to tell who the true high performers are in contracting offices.

Nicholas Armstrong, a research fellow for the Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism at Syracuse University, said Army contracting officers face unique challenges that they can’t solve on their own. Unlike other military branches that rely more on large weapons systems, the Army buys a large amount of logistics support.

Contracting officers, who remain in the U.S., rely on contracting representatives in deployed units to act as their eyes and ears to make sure the work is getting completed. But for many of those representatives, the job is in addition to their core duties, and they have little training.

Turnover is also an issue. After a few years, Mr. Armstrong said contracting officer representatives may not even know what the original intent of the contract was in the first place.

For the full story, click here.

Making Stability Operations Smarter: Innovations for Fragile Environments

Morgan_CourtneyBy Morgan Courtney

(Remarks delivered at Syracuse University, Nov. 12, 2013) Right now, somewhere over an expansive African plain dotted with acacia trees, is a helicopter. This is no ordinary helicopter. Attached to this helicopter are enormous speakers blaring messages that are helping to bring an end to Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army. This is part of the future of stability operations. Targeted, agile, and innovative.

But before I tell you a bit more about that, I want to tell you about how far we’ve come.

We, the international community, have fumbled our way through stability operations for years.

I’m not just talking about the big two—Iraq and Afghanistan. The international community has undertaken stability operations in Haiti, Kosovo, Rwanda, East Timor, Somalia, and many others, with various levels of success, and in some places, with very little success at all.

I won’t revisit the challenges of Iraq and Afghanistan in particular, but I just want to highlight that these two war and post-war environments were certainly the US’s largest stability operations over the past four decades, and therefore helped to spur new ways of thinking about this work. Necessity is the mother of invention, and the recognition that we needed to do this work cheaper, more efficiently, more effectively, and with the right people drove the US government to think about new and better ways to tackle this mission.

First, they started with a diagnostic. What was necessary to make a country stable and get it back on its feet? The State Department determined that there were essentially 5 categories: this was drawn from work by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the US Institute for Peace, AUSA, an educational organization of the Army, and PKSOI, the Army’s peacekeeping and stability operations think tank. The five categories, roughly, are:

  • Safety and Security
  • Governance and Participation
  • Rule of Law, Justice, and Accountability
  • Economic Development
  • Social Well-Being (health, education)

There were several problems. One was that, since there was no organized way of deploying civilians to do this work—most of which is civilian, as you probably noticed—the military ended up doing much of it. After all, they not only had the money, but they already had people on the ground.

Another major issue was that, until then, most experts were siloed—into what people ironically refer to as “cylinders of excellence.” That is, the security people thought everything came down to security. The rule of law people thought you had to tackle justice first. Health and education people said you had to win the hearts and minds of the people through services. Others said good governance, civil society participation, and anti-corruption measures were key to getting people to trust their government. As a result, you had myriad players in the same space, but they weren’t coordinated, duplicated efforts, and left huge gaps.

You’ve heard the anecdotes: Beautiful schools built too close to each other, by different international actors, where one school would have served the entire population in the area. No books, desks, or teachers. New roads, but they don’t connect the schools to population centers. And children don’t feel safe walking to school. So we may have nice new schools, but in the end, the kids aren’t being educated.

The thing is, all of these five sectors are critical, but not all of them are critical at the same time. You need sequencing. You need people who have experience in multiple “cylinders of excellence” and can think across them, prioritizing what should be done, and when.

By late 2002, after a year in Afghanistan, the US government realized this, and that it needed to cultivate talent that could think strategically across all five sectors. In particular, the State Department realized that it needed to establish a way to bring civilians with diverse experience across the US government to work together in the stability operations arena.

And so, in 2004, Secretary of State Colin Powell established the Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization, which intended to remedy these gaps. With time, and with the support of the Defense Department, especially Secretary Gates, S/CRS, as the State office came to be known, grew in size and capability. A Civilian Response Corps was created, comprised of civilians from a number of government agencies, from the Department of Justice, to Homeland Security, to Commerce, Treasury, HHS, Agriculture, USAID, and, of course, the State Department. It was essentially a deployable group of experts from across the government who applied their expertise in fragile states.

S/CRS was to conduct analyses of conflict dynamics, plan missions, coordinate the civilian side of stability operations with the military, surge people with the right talents quickly (and with the right support, including flak jackets, deep field communications equipment, and other things), coordinate with international partners to eliminate redundancy, and to learn from their experiences—analyzing what worked, what didn’t, and how the US government could do this work better the next time.

I think you all can appreciate how ambitious this was, and especially so, for a small office in the State Department.

So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that S/CRS ran into a number of problems. Like any new organization, it struggled to establish and prove itself in a field of already-established (and sometimes skeptical) actors, and to carve itself a respected niche. As an office whose place in the State bureaucracy was different from quote “normal” bureaus of State, as well as a number of other reasons, S/CRS was not as connected to the rest of the State Department as it could or should have been…and for a long time, wasn’t resourced to do the tasks it was envisioned to do.

In 2009, the Obama Administration came in, wanting to right-size the balance between hard power and soft power. It recognized the need to strengthen the civilian role in complex crises.

As a result, during Secretary Clinton’s Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review in 2010, S/CRS was transformed into a new bureau, structured like other bureaus, and firmly planted in the State Department under the Undersecretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights—what we at the Department refer to as “J.” The new office was called the Bureau for Conflict and Stabilization Operations, or CSO, for short.

For now, neither the Administration, nor the general American public, is interested in undertaking another mega-stability operation like Iraq or Afghanistan that requires a lot of money and people. Similarly, CSO’s thinking has evolved. Now, rather than trying to coordinate everything that comes under the umbrella of civilian operations, we’re focused on being targeted, agile, and innovative.

These don’t tend to be the first words one thinks of when they think of the US government, but we aim to ensure that all of our work in different countries—what we call “engagements”—has these characteristics. Targeted, agile, and innovative.

Let me tell you about how we target our efforts. Before we commit to an engagement, we conduct in-depth conflict analysis of the situation in a country. We bring together experts from across the government, including the Embassy, as well as subject matter experts and practitioners from academia, NGOs, think tanks, and other places to discuss the dynamics of the conflict. Who are the key players? What drives them? How does history influence the current conflict? Who are the spoilers? Who are the thought influencers? How can we get them to play a useful role in preventing or mitigating conflict? Who or what are the conflict mitigators—the people or dynamics that can be amplified to mitigate conflict? What are the resiliencies?

We conducted this kind of analysis during the S/CRS days, but the result is a bit different. Following the analysis, S/CRS helped to plan and then tried to coordinate all civilian activities. CSO approaches this differently—we take that information and then think strategically—again, with interagency partners and the Embassy—to determine what the key vectors of the conflict are. Going back to the five major sectors we talked about earlier—safety and security, governance and participation, rule of law, justice and accountability; economic development; and social well-being—we agree that all of them matter. But what are the 2 to 3 most critical areas that must be targeted NOW in order to set the course of the conflict on a path toward resolution? That is, what activities can we undertake in these critical areas that can have a positive multiplier effect over time?

When we consider possible interventions, we think about what we, CSO, can do in a relatively short timeframe—in general, around 12 to 18 months. The way we think about it, more traditional civilian actors tend to work in a country for a longer period of time. We, by contrast, want to be in a space just long enough to be catalytic—helping others who will be working over the longer term, especially local actors, by influencing key conflict dynamics and setting local actors up for success.

We also aim to be agile. We deploy conflict experts to these countries quickly, experts who are able to adjust their work depending on the local context and shifting dynamics. We monitor changes and try to identify emerging opportunities to influence these dynamics, both on the ground and from our headquarters.

Once we’ve identified these emergent opportunities, we try to be innovative in addressing them. This means thinking beyond “business as usual,” and coming up with creative approaches to challenges.

One example is in Kenya, where election violence in 2007 ravaged the country, particularly the coast. The next general elections were slated for 2013, and we (and others) assessed that violence could break out again. So we prepared differently. USAID, the US government’s aid agency, launched or strengthened a number of peace-related programs in population centers along Kenya’s coast. CSO, wanting to complement and not duplicate efforts, assessed that it could target two areas for focused intervention—Mombasa and Kwale—and coordinated with USAID to plus-up their projects in those areas.

CSO deployed two seasoned personnel—one Justice Department official, a former police officer and member of the Civilian Response Corps—and one of its own staff, a former Army officer with NGO experience, to run its projects on the coast. One of those was a project that recruited and trained peace monitors to serve as “eyes and ears” for the official peace committees. CSO provided phones, transport, phone credit, and a monthly stipend that enabled these peace monitors to move around communities, monitor for possible outbreaks of violence, and contribute information to an Ushahidi-supported crowd mapping early warning system. CSO also funded the sending of peace text messages to approximately 300,000 people in the region.

At the same time, CSO recognized that conflict monitoring and response went hand-in-hand. Our officers reached out to the local police in those areas, and asked if they were willing to work with local organizations in their efforts to monitor and respond to violence. The police thought the local organizations didn’t trust them—and they were right, these organizations thought that many in the police were corrupt. After some discussion, CSO helped the groups to overcome some of their doubts and explore cooperation.

The result? The police were able to respond to possible outbreaks of violence based on the local reporting, and organizations were reassured that their reporting would result in a response by authorities. This, and other initiatives to mitigate election violence, resulted in a significant drop in casualties—election-related deaths in 2013 amounted to 1.5% of the election-related deaths in 2007, down from 1,300 to 20.

This was the first time that Kenyan civil society had successfully created a platform for the public, peace groups, the provincial administration, and security agencies to work together on mitigating conflict. And now that the dust has settled from the elections, there is increased trust between civil society and the security agencies.

Let’s turn to Burma for a moment—a place where a remarkable democratic transition is underway. For decades, a military regime closed off the country. Then, in 2008, seeds of change appeared to be sprouting with the development of a new Constitution. By 2010, a quasi-civilian government came to power. In 2011, Secretary Clinton visited the country, the highest-level visit by an American official in five decades. By 2012, democracy advocate and Nobel prizewinner Aung San Suu Kyi had been released from house arrest and was elected to parliament. The Burmese government has eased a number of restrictions on speech, assembly, and the press, and has released hundreds of political prisoners.

And yet, despite these rapid changes put into motion by the Burmese government, many of Burma’s ethnic groups are cautious about the reforms. For years, they suffered under the military regime, leading them to form armed wings to fight the government. Now, they don’t know if they can trust the new government or its military. But if we want to help Burma become stable, democratic, and unified, we know that these ethnic groups and the government must put their guns down, begin to trust each other, and reconcile their past.

CSO, recognizing how sensitive reconciliation efforts can be, launched a pilot project in one of Burma’s ethnic minority states. The approach? Using an issue of mutual interest to bring together groups that would not normally talk to each other. And by talking about this issue, we thought that they would build some connective tissue that would enable them to work cooperatively on other, potentially tougher issues. This is the first step toward reconciliation.

In this case, we wanted to bring together local civil society, ethnic armed groups, Burmese government officials, and Burmese security forces. Through our analysis, we found that landmines were a common scourge of both the ethnic groups and the government—both were guilty of laying them, and both were victims of them.

So we brought them together to begin discussions on the dangers of landmines and how they affect everyone. It was the first time these groups had all found themselves in the same room, talking about their problems. It was so simple, and yet so remarkable. Communication was opened. And several months later, on their own, the ethnic armed group the Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP) and the Burmese military entered into talks, and agreed that they would work together on the issue of landmines.

This model, which approaches reconciliation in an indirect way, is being explored for use in other areas of Burma and in other CSO engagements.

Moving back to Africa, let’s come back to the Lord’s Resistance Army. Many of you are aware of the rightly maligned target of Invisible Children’s Kony 2012 initiative—Joseph Kony. Over the past several years, the United States has dedicated millions of dollars training militaries in East Africa to capture Joseph Kony and end his operations. In addition to the US military personnel who are deployed for this mission, CSO deploys a stability operations officer.

Joseph Kony and his group of an estimated 200 fighters, known as the Lord’s Resistance Army, have moved between several countries—the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan and South Sudan, and the Central African Republic since 2008. They operate with rudimentary technology, making them difficult to track. It seemed as if we, and the African militaries with which we were working, were always just a couple steps behind him … until we looked at the problem a little differently.

What if we didn’t try to capture or kill the LRA, but rather tried to encourage them to defect from the group? Many of the LRA’s fighters were coerced into fighting since they were children. Presumably, they would prefer to go home.

The US government got the fighters’ families on radios, encouraging them to return home. Radio programs were broadcast, encouraging people to return to their villages and not to fear retribution if they turned in their guns. Flyers were distributed. And—we entered into a public-private partnership. Invisible Children gave millions of dollars to help with this strategic messaging campaign. And, as I mentioned earlier, as part of a unified effort with US Africa Command and the United Nations, we equipped helicopters with massive speakers that broadcast messages in the bush…because while you can’t see them, there could be fighters listening under the triple-canopied trees.

What was the result? Incredible success. An estimated 60 fighters (of the estimated 200) defected. And we’re not just talking about the most junior fighters, but also some of Joseph Kony’s top advisors, who have been able to provide key information that gets us closer to him.

Before I close, I want to mention a couple of new technologies that the US government is using to plus-up peace and stability efforts. I mentioned Ushahidi in the Kenya example as a crowd-sourcing mechanism that can map possible flare-ups and speed up conflict response. At CSO, our Analytics Unit uses a couple of computer programs that help us in our analysis and can help with negotiations. One is called iSENT, a program that collects large amounts of media—including social media—and categorizes it based on whether it expresses positive or negative sentiments. It can be used to get a sense of how locals in a country, or its Diaspora, feel about a particular institution, individual, or policy.

Another technology is called Senturion. This advanced program uses inputs from experts and employs game theory and repeated trials to play out institutions’ and individuals’ positions over time…and is able to note a confidence interval for the results. This is particularly helpful for peace negotiations—this kind of system can help to determine how solid negotiating positions are, and what negotiation points would be more successful than others. In other words, we might be able to get to peace agreements faster and better with the use of this new technology.

These are just a handful of examples of how the State Department and the US government are changing their approach to stability operations. Hopefully, it gives you a sense of how we’re trying to conduct these missions smarter and more innovatively. We’re trying to think differently, and are always looking for the greatest next idea.

Morgan Courtney is the Burma (Myanmar) Engagement Lead at the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations at the US Department of State (DOS), where she manages a team of conflict specialists in the field and in Washington who focus on peace, conflict, and reconciliation in Burma.

This talk is part of INSCT’s David F. Everett Postconflict Reconstruction Speaker Series.

Foreign Corrupt Practices Act Project

Government contractors who carry out stabilization operations must also merge US business practices with local laws and customs, a convergence regulated by the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).

The 1977 FCPA made it unlawful for persons and entities to make payments to foreign government officials to assist in obtaining or retaining business. Many years later, FCPA enforcement remains contentious.

Persistent bribery is a scourge to global commerce and good governance. It undermines the rule of law, facilitates other criminal activity, prevents businesses from identifying actual costs, and creates an unfair playing field for all competitors.

Final Report

FCPA Resources

The following guides and other resources have been prepared by the staff of the Criminal Division of the US Department of Justice and the Enforcement Division of the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

FCPA Resource Guide

This guide is intended to provide information for businesses and individuals regarding the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). ]

A Lay Person’s Guide to the FCPA

A general description of the FCPA, not intended to substitute for specific counsel on FCPA matters.

Other Resources

Related Content

Postconflict Transitions

As postconflict stabilization, reconstruction, and peacebuilding efforts draw to a close, foreign actors and their host nation counterparts undergo a “transition” period of shared responsibility or mutual support to one in which host nation institutions assume self-reliant administrative control over the full range of state functions.

These “postconflict transitions” pose multiple challenges including dilemmas over timing and sequencing; sovereignty, political legitimacy, local ownership, and dependence on foreign assistance; and constructive societal reform. As such, postconflict transitions pose a critical node for the planning and execution of postconflict stability and reconstruction operations and a topic in need of closer examination.

While many PCR studies and field reports routinely refer to postconflict transitions as a significant milestone, no attempt has been made to systematically examine the underlying social processes and mechanisms at work. Additionally, practitioners have struggled with creating a conceptual framework and adequately operationalizing activities inherent to transition. In collaboration with the Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute (PKSOI) at the US Army War College, ISPL is examining postconflict transitions as a crucial process during recovery from internal crisis or conflict.


Postconflict Resilience

SPL’s project on Postconflict Resilience is an interdisciplinary, multi-institutional, and cross-sector effort to generate a stream of research aimed at identifying key metrics of adaptive capacity in local communities, organizations, governments, and societies overcome by security challenges such as armed conflict and catastrophic disasters.

Recent challenges in stability and reconstruction operations highlight the need for a full understanding of a nation’s resilience to withstand the hardships of armed conflict.

The same holds true for local communities impacted by natural or man-made disasters. Resilience research across multiple disciplines (social sciences, engineering, and biology) holds practical applications for inter-agency planners to conduct analysis and develop strategies aimed at restoring critical functions of governance and rebuilding civil society.

This research will provide a deeper intellectual understanding of what makes communities “bounce back” (or not) after a significant disturbance, and culturally sensitive metrics for measuring resilience of local populations that can be used for planning response, and rebuilding. The knowledge gained in this collaboration will also find immediate application in other fields with high uncertainty including emergency management and disaster response planning.

Research Objectives

  1. Identify and define the attributes / variables that contribute to the resilience of complex, adaptive social systems.
  2. Operationalize these attributes / variables across multiple contexts and develop metrics that will allow researchers the ability to measure the capacity of social systems to adapt to stress and external shocks.
  3. Facilitate multidisciplinary scholarship that uses the data and experience of the U.S. government in post-conflict and disaster afflicted settings for creating viable solutions to critical national and international security challenges.
  4. Implement new methods and resources for teaching this important concept in higher education and professional training.

Research Questions

  1. How do social systems (families, communities, organizations, governments) become resilient? How can resilience be operationalized such that metrics can be developed and tracked across different cases?
  2. Which resilience attributes / indicators are most critical to a social system’s ability to cope with conflict or catastrophic events? To what extent are these indicators interrelated? Are there readily identifiable thresholds through which, if exceeded, result in system collapse?
  3. How can resilience research (a) enhance existing U.S. interagency planning methodologies, and (b) better inform policy makers the requisite need for operational capacities to effectively respond to local and international disasters and crises?


  • Building Resilient Communities: A Preliminary Framework for Assessment.” Patricia H. Longstaff, Nicholas J. Armstrong, Keli A. Perrin, Whitney May Parker, and Matthew Hidek. Homeland Security Affairs, 6 (3). September 2010
  • “Building Resilient Communities: Tools for Assessment.” Patricia H. Longstaff, Nicholas J. Armstrong, & Keli A. Perrin (2010).
  • “Peacekeeping and Post-Conflict Stability Surprises: A Resilience Approach.” Patricia H. Longstaff & R. Megahan. PKSOI Working Papers. Peacekeeping and Stability Operation Institute, US Army War College, Carlisle. PA (2009).
  • “Resilience in Stability, Security, Reconstruction, and Transition Operations.” Nicholas J. Armstrong  (2009).
  • Resilience in Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Natural Disasters.” Patricia H. Longstaff, Ines Mergel, & Nicholas J. Armstrong (eds) (2009).

2009 Resilience in Postconflict Reconstruction Workshop

Measuring Resilience and Adaptive Capacity for Local Populations After Armed Conflict or Natural Disasters

Syracuse University | January 16-17, 2009

ISPL hosted an interdisciplinary workshop gathering scholars and practitioners in the fields of international development, emergency management, and defense with interest in the topic of resilience in conflict and disaster settings. The workshop is a vital first step in a larger effort to understand the underlying causal factors that impact society’s ability to recover from a major conflict or disaster. The inherent complexity of these societal problems spans across many traditional disciplines, demonstrating a need for an interdisciplinary approach to the advancement of knowledge on this pressing topic.

  • Patricia Longstaff  (Moderator)
  • Catherine Gerard  (Group Facilitator)
  • Christina Merchant (Group Facilitator)

Involving Nonstate Actors in Law-Making: Self-Regulation in the Private Security & Military Industry

With Dr. Daphné Richemond-Barak

Dr. Daphné Richemond-Barak holds a Maîtrise from Université Panthéon- Assas (Paris II), a Diploma in Legal Studies from Oxford University, an LL.M. from Yale Law School, and a Ph.D. from Tel Aviv University. She was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship, the European Commission Scholarship, the Hertford College Prize, and the Oxford Prize for Distinction.

Prior to joining the Interdisciplinary Center in Israel (IDC) in 2009,  Richemond-Barak worked at the International Court of Justice and spent several years in private practice at the New York office of Cleary Gottlieb. Richemond-Barak has acted as private counsel for international law firms and as a legal adviser to states, including the government of Colombia in its territorial dispute against Nicaragua before the International Court of Justice. At IDC, in addition to her teaching, she established and supervised the university’s participation in the Jean Pictet Competition in International Humanitarian Law, in which IDC won first place internationally in 2010 and 2011.

Richemond-Barak’s research has appeared in the European Journal of International Law, the Catholic University Law Review, the Hague Yearbook of International Law, the Yale Human Rights and Development Law Journal, among other publications. She is also author of Privatizing War: Legal, Moral, and Historical Reflections on the Status of Private Military Contractors (Oxford UP) and of the forthcoming seventh edition of The World Court: What It Is and How It Works (Martinus Nijhoff).

The Risks of Outsourcing Security: Foreign Security Forces in US National Security Policy

With Eric Rittinger

For more than a century, the United States has sought foreign security forces to promote its national security policy. Nowhere is this more evident than in Afghanistan, where the US wants the Afghan army and police to assume full responsibility for counterinsurgency operations. Local forces can obviate the need for American troops, but they can also stray from American objectives. How has the US attempted to mitigate that risk? By investigating how the US used the Salvadoran military as a proxy in the Cold War and the Colombian military as a proxy in the War on Drugs, Rittinger finds a direct connection between the rhetorical definition of that risk and the policies implemented to guard against it. This finding invites us to scrutinize the language used today to describe the dangers posed by the Afghan security forces.