The District Stability Framework


Increased U.S. involvement in crisis, conflict, and post-conflict settings has created a demand for tools to identify and diminish the causes of instability. Traditional civilian and military tools have not been effective in unstable areas because the conditions are dramatically different from normal development environments. These areas are often insecure, economically devastated, and have ineffective or non-existent government institutions. Responding to this need, the Office of Civilian-Military Cooperation (CMC), along with USAID's Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI) and the Counterinsurgency Training Center in Kabul, Afghanistan, created the District Stability Framework (DSF). The DSF is a simple, standardized, four-part assessment and planning tool:

  1. Situational Awareness. DSF gathers information on the operational and cultural environments, stability and instability factors, and popular perceptions to better understand local conditions. This process typically identifies a long list of problems and issues.
  2. Analysis. The problems identified in the first phase are analyzed to determine which of them are actually sources of instability (SOIs) and therefore priorities to be addressed.
  3. Program Design. Stabilization activities and associated metrics are designed to address the SOIs using a logical, effects-based planning framework and sound development principles.
  4. Impact Evaluation. DSF measures the impact of individual activities as well as their collective effect on overall stability. This creates a feedback loop to adjust and improve stabilization efforts.

DSF is based on the same proven stabilization principles as USAID's Conflict Assessment Framework (CAF). Whereas the CAF typically focuses on the national level, however, DSF adds tools to apply these principles at the local level and draw detailed programmatic implications.

The DSF methodology has been used in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, South Sudan, and elsewhere to identify, prioritize, and target the root causes of instability. Based on its demonstrated utility, it has been included in the COIN Qualification Standards for all U.S. military personnel deploying to Afghanistan, and is mandated for use in all Key Terrain Districts in the Eastern part of that country. It has been endorsed by the USAID Administrator and cited in U.S. military doctrine, including Army Field Manual 3-07 Stability Operations (under DSF's previous version name, TCAPF), Marine Corps Publication 3-33.1 MAGTF Civil-Military Operations, and the Center for Army Lessons Learned "PRT Handbook." (pdf)


USAID provides DSF training and mentoring to civilian and military personnel deploying to conflict zones like Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as to USAID staff and implementing partners in the Middle East and Africa.

The typical Program of Instruction for DSF classroom training is 2.5 days, including several group exercises conducted throughout the course and culminating with a final tabletop exercise based on a real world case study. Situational Training Exercise (STX) lanes and support to Mission Readiness Exercises (MREs) are also available and highly recommended.

Although the entire classroom training materials are available for download from this website, USAID/CMC has found that effective DSF training and mentoring requires instructors with appropriate education, teaching skills, and - most importantly - experience in programming foreign assistance, working in unstable environments, and engaging in interagency/civil-military coordination.

The following roster lists all the individuals who have been evaluated and accepted by USAID/CMC to lead DSF instructional events on CMC's behalf. USAID/CMC also permits instructors-in-training (not listed) to teach under the observation of a lead instructor.

In addition to this list, there may be other competent DSF instructors who have not gone through the USAID/CMC evaluation process.

Instructor Affiliation
Joe Auger Development Transformations
Johanna Brown Development Transformations
Howard Clark Development Transformations
Kristina Kempkey USAID/CMC
Eric Kotouc USAID/OTI
Marina Legree Development Transformations
Nick Lockwood Development Transformations
Sloan Mann Development Transformations
Justin Richmond Development Transformations
John Sanford Development Transformations
Mathew Snoddon Development Transformations
Scott Stanford IDS International
Jobe Solomon Development Transformations
Jim Derleth U.S. Army (JMRC)

As this list suggests, most DSF training is provided by instructors who work for private sector entities. To obtain DSF training, interested parties may contact the above-listed instructors directly.

In addition, USAID/CMC maintains its own contract mechanism to employ instructors from the list above. Interested parties may therefore also obtain DSF training by transferring funds through USAID/CMC. To explore this option, or for any other information on the District Stability Framework, please contact us at:

Tel: 202.712.1804

Last updated: February 08, 2013

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