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The United States participated in several interventions and state-building efforts during the 1990s, and the rationale for U.S. engagement in such efforts received a new urgency after the 9/11 attacks. However, recent U.S. experiences in Afghanistan and in Iraq, especially, have shown that engaging in stability and reconstruction operations is a difficult and lengthy process that requires appropriate resources. Most of all, to have a chance of succeeding, such operations require a realistic understanding of the capabilities needed for them.

The authors present the results of research on the U.S. civilian personnel and staffing programs for stability and reconstruction operations undertaken in other countries under U.S. leadership or with the participation of the United States. The study uses the Office of Personnel Management’s Human Capital Assessment and Accountability Framework to assess the personnel requirements for such operations. The Framework advocates strategic alignment, workforce planning and development, leadership and knowledge management, results-oriented performance culture, talent management, and accountability. The authors also present recommendations that the U.S. government should consider undertaking to deal with the types of problems that the United States has encountered in post-2003 Iraq. The research draws on the rapidly growing body of literature dealing with reconstruction and stability missions, interviews with U.S. and British civilian personnel deployed to Iraq, and the authors’ own experiences in Iraq as U.S. civilians involved with the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA). The study should be of interest to policymakers dealing with stability and reconstruction operations.

The research described in this report results from the RAND Corporation’s continuing program of self-initiated research, which is made possible, in part, by the generous support of donors and by the independent research and development provisions of RAND’s contracts for the operation of its U.S. Department of Defense federally funded research and development centers. The research was overseen by the RAND Arroyo Center Strategy, Doctrine, and Resources Program.

This report is part of the RAND monograph series. RAND monographs present major research findings that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND monographs undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.

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