Small Wars Journal

State-USAID-DoD Stabilization Assistance Review (SAR)


The Department of State, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and Department of Defense (DoD) are pleased to announce the release of the final report of the “Stabilization Assistance Review” (SAR). With support from the National Security Council, State, USAID, and DoD launched the SAR to identify ways that the United States can more effectively leverage diplomatic engagements, defense, and foreign assistance to stabilize conflict-affected areas.

The President has been clear that the United States will be more selective and measured about how we use taxpayer dollars overseas and expect our partners to share the burden. The SAR outlines a framework for targeting U.S. resources to stabilize conflict-affected states based on our national security interests and an assessment of where we can have the greatest impact. Based on past experience, the SAR establishes a U.S. government-wide definition of stabilization as an inherently political endeavor to create conditions where legitimate authorities and systems can manage conflict and prevent violence. The SAR makes it clear that stabilization is transitional in nature and meant to establish a foundation for longer-term development.

The SAR identifies principles for effective stabilization and lays out a framework for making diplomatic, development, and defense engagements more efficient and accountable to taxpayers by aligning stabilization efforts toward supporting defined political outcomes. The SAR outlines how the United States can improve the outcomes of our stabilization efforts through more efficient and disciplined bureaucratic structures, processes, and engagement with international partners. In this regard, the SAR formally defines agency roles for stabilization missions, with State as the overall lead agency for stabilization efforts; USAID as the lead implementing agency for non-security stabilization assistance; and, DoD as a supporting element.

The SAR is the result of strong collaboration between State, USAID, and DoD over the past year. The final report has been approved by the Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, and USAID Administrator, all of whom are committed to translating the SAR framework into policy and practice. This commitment will ensure smooth implementation, which is already underway.

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