The Bureau of Political-Military Affairs is an agency within the United States Department of State that bridges the Department of State with the Department of Defence. It provides policy in the areas of international security, security assistance, military operations, defence strategy and policy, military use of space, and defence trade. It is headed by the Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs.
According to the Department of State website, the Bureau secures military base access and overflight permission to support the deployment of US military forces. It negotiates the status of US military forces and International Criminal Court non-surrender agreements. It is also responsible for coordinating the participation of coalition combat and stabilisation forces, and assisting other countries in reducing the availability of man-portable air defence systems (MANPADS), which are shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles.
The Bureau seeks to create and manage defence relationships with allies of the United States, regulate arms transfers, control access to military technology, and combat the illegal trafficking of small arms or light weapons. It also is responsible for training and equipping international peacekeepers and other military personnel.
The Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement within the Bureau of Political Affairs manages the Humanitarian Mine Action Programme and publishes the “SAFE PASSAGE”: A Newsletter for the Humanitarian Mine Action and Small Arms/Light Weapons Communities. The office also publishes “To Walk The Earth In Safety” a publication that summarizes the current US effort to rid the world of the most pressing land mine and ordnance problems in a country-by-country format. Finally they have published a number of press releases that describe ongoing efforts within those communities and the Office’s efforts in support of these aims. The United Nations Mine Action Centre defines “mine action” as removing land mines from the ground, assisting victims, and also teaching people how to protect themselves from danger in environments affected by land mines. In addition to promoting public and private mine action partnerships, the Bureau works with the Department of Defence to provide assistance in the event of natural disasters.
The Bureau of Political-Military Affairs is divided into twelve unique offices:
- Office of Congressional and Public Affairs.
- Office of Regional Security and Arms Transfers.
- Office of Defence Trade Controls Licensing.
- Office of Defence Trade Controls Compliance.
- Office of Defence Trade Controls Management.
- Office of Defence Trade Controls Policy.
- Office of Security Negotiations and Agreements.
- Office of State-Defence Integration.
- Office of Global Programmes and Initiatives.
- Office of Security Assistance.
- Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement.
The bureau also includes the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Peacekeeping, Programs, and Operations; the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Defence Trade Controls; the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Regional Security and Security Assistance; and the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State and Senior Advisor for Security Negotiations and Agreements, as well as the Senior Military Advisor to the Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs, in the Bureau’s Front Office.
In fiscal year 2015, the bureau’s operating budget, including salaries, was approximately $161 million. The bureau’s total FY 2015 foreign assistance funding was approximately $7 billion.
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