The Cable

Overlooked: The “civilian surge” gets bigger

Apparently, there will be added civilian presence in Afghanistan to go along with President Obama’s surge of 30,000 new troops, although the exact request and how it will be carried off are still unclear. The State Department is already “surging” civilians into the warzone, increasing their number to 974 civilians in a deployment that has ...

Apparently, there will be added civilian presence in Afghanistan to go along with President Obama’s surge of 30,000 new troops, although the exact request and how it will be carried off are still unclear.

The State Department is already “surging” civilians into the warzone, increasing their number to 974 civilians in a deployment that has already begun. But administration officials are now saying that more civilians will be requested for helping out Afghanistan’s government and private sector. Some will form District Support Teams and Provincial Reconstruction Teams. Others will staff new consulates in Mazar-e-Sharif and Herat.

“This is not a one-way street,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a speech Monday to the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition. “Our military creates space for our civilians to do their important work, and our civilians maximize the efforts of our troops in the field to bring stability and security.”

Still, there are real concerns throughout the diplomatic and development communities as to where the experts will come from, how they will be trained, and what added resources will be needed for the security to keep them safe.

Spencer Ackerman and Diplopundit caught the news of the need for additional civilians, which came out of Monday’s American Enterprise Institute event with Michèle Flournoy, the under secretary of defense for policy, and Paul Jones, the deputy special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The important part of Jones’s remarks are below, but you can read the full text of his remarks here.

The President will soon request from Congress the resources needed to implement this focused civilian effort. His request will include not only a sizable increase in civilian assistance, but also funds to support deployment of additional civilian experts beyond the roughly 1,000 U.S. government civilians who will be on the ground by early next year. These civilians will help build Afghan governance and private sector capacity. In the field, they will work from District Support Teams and PRTs, side by side with our military. Some will also extend our permanent diplomatic presence outside of Kabul by staffing new consulates in Mazar-e-Sharif and Herat.

We are now in the midst of the civilian surge. I spoke last Thursday at the Foreign Service Institute with a class of 90 experts from USAID, USDA and State who will be deploying before Christmas; the next such class is in two weeks, so our tempo is quick. On Friday, I met with a packed room of Foreign Service Officers looking to sign-up for tours in 2010 and beyond. Next week, I’ll travel to Camp Atterbury, Indiana http://i.ixnp.com/images/v6.17/t.gif , where every civilian deploying to the field undergoes a week-long, realistic, intensive field exercise with our military counterparts.

Secretary Clinton is proud of noting that among these civilians are our top experts from 10 different U.S. government departments and agencies. And once deployed, they report to our Embassy in Kabul through a unified civilian chain of command, with senior civilian representatives at every civ-mil platform. In short, our selection, training and leadership is better than ever before. The result is improved civ-mil coordination at all levels of our effort in Afghanistan, and gives us the civilian expertise out in key districts that will allow our locally-focused strategy to succeed. Admiral Mullen attested to the quality of the civilians during his appearance before the Congress last Thursday.

 

 Twitter: @joshrogin

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