Nepal: Security Sector Reform Helps Build Peace and Security

Nepalese army soldiers march during Nepal's National Democracy Day celebrations in Katmandu, Nepal, February 19, 2010. [AP Photo]

About the Author: Jack Detsch serves in the Office of Plans, Policy, and Analysis(PM/PPA) in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs. He is a senior at George Washington University.

Security Sector Reform is a critical mission for the U.S. Department of State. In partnership with the U.S. Department of Defense, we help nations turn the page on past practices and establish effective and accountable security institutions that respect human rights and can positively contribute to promoting regional peace and security. As Nepal continues to emerge from a decade long civil conflict, these reform efforts are making a difference.

On November 21, 2006, a Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) ended a 10-year civil war with Maoist insurgents and abolished the monarchy. The conflict left Nepal with significant challenges, including internal population displacement and the decline of a once-vibrant tourism industry.

For Nepal’s peace to survive, the new government also needed to enact robust reforms to rebuild its army, police, and other security… more »

Security and Partnership in the Americas: All in a Day’s Work

Twenty-one special operations forces teams stand ready on the parade field displaying their nations colors during the opening ceremony at the Colombian National Training Center at Fort Tolemaida on June 6, 2012. [Photo by 107th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment]

About the Author: Ambassador Carmen Martinez serves in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs as a Foreign Policy Advisor (POLAD) and Civilian Deputy to the Commander at U.S. Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM).

A few weeks back, I had the privilege of attending a remarkable event where I witnessed teams from many nations come together to put their bodies and minds to the test, competing against one another in a series of athletic events to see who would emerge as the true champion. I wasn’t at the London Olympics; I was in the middle of Tolemaida, Colombia at the Ninth Annual Fuerzas Comando exercise, a competition featuring special operations forces from 21 countries, and came to face-off with elite military forces from across the Western Hemisphere.

Around the world, Foreign Policy Advisors (POLADs) — diplomats assigned to serve as advisors to U.S. military commanders in the United States and overseas — have become a key element in forging “whole of government” solutions and approaches that combine diplomacy, development and defense in pursuing our nation’s foreign policy…more »

Investing in Security: Program Develops New Generation of Humanitarian Demining Leaders

Major General Walter D. Givhan recognizes participants at the 2012 Senior Managers Course in Explosive Remnants of War and Mine Action at the James Madison University, June 2012. This year, the 17 participants represented 13 different countries, including Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Iraq, Laos, Lebanon, Libya, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Uganda, and Vietnam. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

About the Author: Major General Walter D. “Waldo” Givhan, United States Air Force, currently serves as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Plans, Programs and Operations in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs.

I recently had the privilege of visiting James Madison University to attend the closing ceremony for the 2012 Senior Managers’ Course in Explosive Remnants of War and Mine Action, where I met a select group of individuals serving on the front lines of humanitarian crises and post-conflict environments around the world.

This year, the 17 participants represented 13 different countries, including Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Iraq, Laos, Lebanon, Libya, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Uganda, and Vietnam. These “Senior Managers” are each leaders in their respective national mine action and ERW programs. This diversity the students bring in terms of background and experience is one of the main reasons… more »

Economic Statecraft: Investment Climate Statements for 2012

Media Note
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
June 14, 2012

The Department of State today released its Investment Climate Statements for 2012 as part of Global Economic Statecraft Day. These statements contain updated investment climate information compiled by our missions and posts abroad for approximately 170 economies, with investment-related developments, foreign direct investment data, and rankings from internationally-recognized indices. This year’s statements showcase many examples of economies improving their investment climates and opening their doors to U.S. investment.

The Investment Climate Statements represent a critical component of Secretary Clinton’s Economic Statecraft agenda as we seek to ensure that U.S. companies can invest on fair terms in overseas markets. The Investment Climate Statements help identify the barriers and market distortions that too often deter U.S. investment, provide U.S. investors with the information they need to better assess business risks, and serve as a basis for engaging foreign governments on modernizing investment regimes. U.S. economic growth will increasingly rely on our ability to compete and win overseas. MORE

Economic Statecraft: Defense Trade Builds Diplomatic Relationships

Assistant Secretary Andrew J. Shapiro addresses workers at a Boeing plant in St. Louis, Missouri, January 2012. [Photo Courtesy of Boeing]

About the Author: About the Author: Andrew J. Shapiro is the Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs.

Promoting U.S. business abroad and expanding U.S. exports is a top priority of the State Department and the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM). Our work in the PM Bureau to expand defense trade with our allies and partners is critical to America’s national security and our economic prosperity and is an important part of the State Department’s economic statecraft efforts.

At the State Department, we advocate tirelessly on behalf of U.S. companies abroad — and I have the frequent flier miles to prove it. It is no longer just our Ambassadors who promote U.S. defense trade. Senior State Department officials regularly advocate on behalf of U.S. bidders on foreign government and foreign military procurements.… more

Surviving the Peace: New Film Highlights Lingering Challenges in Laos

A Laotian technician prods the ground in Nong Pet Junction, Laos, in search of bomblets and other explosive devices left undetinated from the Indochina War on May 3, 1996. [AP File Photo]

About the Author: David Cavey serves in the Office of Congressional and Public Affairs in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs at the Department of State.

More than thirty-five years after the Vietnam War, Laos continues to struggle with the legacy of unexploded ordnance dropped by U.S. military aircraft seeking to disrupt military supply routes used by North Vietnamese forces. Surviving the Peace, a powerful short film produced by our partners at Mines Advisory Group (MAG), with support from the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement (PM/WRA), captures the kind of challenges facing rural families not only in Laos, but in dozens of countries around the world long after conflicts end, and what the United States is doing to help.

The film tells the story of a Lao family coping with the consequences of this… more »

Paying it Forward: Training A New Generation of Landmine Clearance Leaders
Director Lawrence and Deemah Nasser Pose for a Photo [State Dept. Photo]

About the Author: Jim Lawrence is the Director of the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the Department’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs.

Since 1993, the United States has provided nearly $2 billion in aid and technical support to help more than 80 countries safely clear landmines and other explosive remnants of war, such as unexploded artillery shells, bombs, and ammunition. However, these hidden hazards can linger for decades, making it essential to build local expertise in partner nations that can take control of this serious humanitarian challenge over the long term.

That’s why I was particularly proud to recently spend time with a group of men and women from 14 countries as they completed training sponsored by our office that will give them the know-how they need to lead their countries’ efforts not only to make local communities safer, but also to “pay it forward” by helping other countries struggling to recover from conflict.

The 16 students hailed from Afghanistan, Azerbaijan,… more »