Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 10/2011

The Commander's Emergency Response Program in Afghanistan: Five Practical Recommendations (CGD Brief)

Gregory Johnson, Vijaya Ramachandran, Julie Walz

September 2011

Center for Global Development


The U.S. military has become substantially engaged in economic development and stabilization and will likely continue to carry out these activities in in-conflict zones for some time to come. Since FY2002, nearly $62 billion has been appropriated for relief and reconstruction in Afghanistan. The Commander’s Emergency Response Program (CERP), which provides funds for projects to address urgent reconstruction and relief efforts, is one component of the military’s development operations. In this analysis, we take U.S. military involvement in development as a given and concentrate on providing recommendations for it to operate more efficiently and effectively. By doing so, we are not advocating that the U.S. military become involved in all types of development activities or that CERP be used more broadly; rather, our recommendations address the military’s capacity to carry out what it is already doing in Afghanistan and other in-conflict situations. They are, in short, the following: 1. Be aware of the unintended consequences of aid. 2. Modernize education and training to reflect realities on the ground. 3. Reform authorities, doctrine, and structure to define the use of CERP funds. 4. Understand the dominant sectors in the economy to make interventions work better. 5. Monitor outcomes to increase the efficiency of CERP.