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The State Department, USAID, and the Flawed Mandate for Stabilization and Reconstruction

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Journal Article

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Georgetown University Washington United States

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Fanfare as the last combat brigade departed, a prime-time Oval Office address, and an officialceremony in Baghdad marked the end of combat operations in Iraq in August 2010. Less scrutinized, but no less significant, is the December 31, 2011, deadline when the last U.S. troops plan to exit the stage, leaving operations completely in civilian hands. Concerns have centered on security and logistics, areas where the Department of State relies heavily on the military. Beyond the ability to physically maneuver, there is a pressing question over States ability to execute the mission does the State Department have the capacity to finish the reconstruction mission and manage the transition to long-term diplomacy and development Given the lessons of the past 10 years, the answer is no. When glaring civilian inadequacies and the flawed strategy in Iraq became apparent by 2004, legislative and executive pressure prompted the State Department to move out in developing planning and operational capabilities to conduct stabilization and reconstruction. National Security Presidential Directive 44 designated the State Department as the lead for such operations, and it in turn established the Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization SCRS to coordinate operations. Last year, the first Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review QDDR reaffirmed the mandate, calling it a core State mission to be supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development USAID. However significant these commitments may be, the status quo continues to be marked by an inability to field a viable response capable of managing in the absence of the military or leading an integrated civil-military effort. The QDDR outlines reforms to close this capacity gap, but even if implemented, it is unlikely that these will be sufficient to address the root problems or timely enough to ensure a seamless transition in Iraq.

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  • Government and Political Science

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