Over the past fifteen years, the United States has been involved or contributed significant resources to seventeen major post-conflict reconstruction and stabilization operations. U.S. post-conflict reconstruction capacity is being put to the test in Iraq and Afghanistan, the two largest post-conflict reconstruction efforts in recent history. In recognition of a bipartisan consensus in favor of reforming the U.S. architecture, national security principals called for the creation of an office, within the State Department, to direct and coordinate future U.S. post-conflict reconstruction efforts.

On September 28, the State Department announced the creation of the Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization to fill that role. The Office marks a critical step forward in the U.S. government's capacity to respond in post-conflict environments. The Office will monitor evolving developments, coordinate preventive and contingency planning, and, when necessary, mobilize a response. It will attempt to provide a unified interagency response by partnering with a range of departments to maintain a ready reserve of trained, experienced professional, and by working closely with Congress. This joint CSIS-Wilson Center event was the Office's first public event.

Ambassador Carlos Pascual, a senior and experienced diplomat, has been tapped to lead the Office. Ambassador Pascual was appointed Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization in July 2004. He has previously served as the Coordinator for U.S. Assistance to Europe and Eurasia. From October 2000 to August 2003, Ambassador Pascual served as U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine.