Good examples of military reform

05/04/2016 @ 15:30
by Thammy Evans

Last year I asked for positive examples of military reform, which could be used to contribute to the MCDC line of development on Understand to Prevent. Several examples were returned (some of which are listed below), and this year we continue the search, including now to contribute to the annual Peace and Stability Operations Training and Education Workshop (PSOTEW) held by DoD’s J7 and the Army War College Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute (PKSOI) this week 6-8 April.

The fourth working group of the conference aims to produce a training package for the US military, which will essentially concentrate on governance and security force assistance (SFA). Whilst US, UK and NATO militaries have their 'lessons learned' centres (SOLLIMS, JALLC, AKX, plus others), few of these are interactive publicly, especially regarding the issue of governance within security forces.

Here is our list of cases so far

  1. human rights accountability in Colombia
  2. the EUSEC DRC chain of payments project
  3. Liberia: Qualified successes in recruitment eroded by lack of sustainability
  4. improving civil-military relations and resolutions mechanisms in the Philippines
  5. defence sector reform in Chile
  6. the French Ecoles nationales à vocation régionale
  7. US Defence Institution Building in Africa (RAND Study, January 2016)

I know there are other examples from Senegal (see Ch7 at the link), Sierra Leone, Burkina Faso, Kosovo, Bosnia, Macedonia and probably elsewhere - can anyone come in with useful links and examples to these or others?

See here for the original discussion strand and link to negative examples.

02/05/2016 @ 14:16
by Thammy Evans

Dear Witek,

Indeed NATO PARP is all too often overlooked, even by NATO! Having worked in NATO HQ Skopje for some years, I can heartily confirm that the PARP and Membership Action Plan process there was indeed SSR writ large - I shall try to dig out some articles to this effect and upload them when I find them.

15/04/2016 @ 11:19
by Witek Nowosielski

Several useful examples of military reform spring to mind; one general and two specific.

Partnership for Peace. A significant part of PfP was military reform, and it was, more often than not, a success story. To take one example which I was involved in. In 2001 Slovakia had the multilateral assistance offered by PARP (Partnership Action and Review Plan) and bilateral assisatnce from several sources including the UK (a reasonably comprehensive programme including the provision of a one star adviser and training such as vacancies on RCDS), the US (also a comprehensive programme including a largish team led by a retired US 2 star) and others. As an example, the Defence Board included officers educated in the UK, US, Germant and France.

Sierra Leone (which you mention) is an interesting case study because it seems to confirm that military reform requires time and consistent effort. IMATT (the International Military Assistance Advisory and Training Team) arrived shortly after the end of the conflict in 2001 and they are still there, but now called ISAT. The consistency comes from the fact that (despite the "International") most of the military transformation assistance has been bilateral, both through IMATT/ISAT and through the provision of other training and of civilian advisers in the MOD.

Palestine  For a couple of years from mid 2008 I was involved in a US programme run by the US Security Coordinator (known as USSC). Although the focus was not "military", as there is no Palestinian Army, I believe that there are still good lessons to be drawn. In essence the programme included two elements: US organised unit training for the Presidential Guard in Jordan and senior leader training in which UK played a significant role. The former speaks for itself. The senior leader training saw the creation of a two month Senior Leaders' Course aimed at senior security force officers. The course was initially run by international staff, but with increasing participation by Palestinian instructors. After 2 years and 7 courses, the majority of the internationals left and the course was completely Palestian run and led. The result: a significant increase in the capacity of the Palestinian security organs to understand and participate in good governance. There should be some good background on this in the States.

08/04/2016 @ 14:08
by Thammy Evans

Dear Colin,

Thank you very much for these comments. And sadly I can't think of any example which is a complete success - all have their tarnishes in some way or another or at some time or another. You pinpoint a wide-reaching concern - the use of outsourcing and its resulting lack of reform sustainability. Outsourcing shows little sign of slowing, despite the growing evidence, Outsourcing also leads to other concerns with the lack of long term commitment in programming, and the lack of staffing with long-term relationship knowledge (the old 'hands' or mandarins) in Governments to stay the course and see through to a sustainable outcome. As a colleague of mine once said, 'time is not a hindrance, it is an enabler' and until we, the supporting nations, change our mindset in this regard, we will forever fall short of our election cycle expectations. And as TS Lawrence wrote in 27 Articles 'Do not try to do too much with your own hands. Better [they] do it tolerably than that you do it perfectly. It is their war, and you are to help them, not to win it for them. Actually, also, under the very odd conditions of [their country], your practical work will not be as good as, perhaps, you think it is.'

During the meantime, we will amend the case study to reflect the appropriate lesson, and I thank you for highlighting Welken's work. We look forward to yours soon?

08/04/2016 @ 12:34
by Colin Robinson

Thammy, I'm somewhat concerned at the rebuilding of the Armed Forces of Liberia being held up as a untarnished example of "good" military reform.

The process from 2004 took place in two parts. Sean and his colleagues in DynCorp did a very good job of establishing a recruiting, vetting, initial training and initial corps training programme. Sean has covered this well in a number of high-profile articles since 2006. But very little remains of that infrastructure. I am unable to confirm that any initial training has been run since the DynCorp personnel departed, and despite efforts by the U.S. programme managers to maintain the initial training arrangement, it is not clear that the AFL could recruit and train more personnel on its own.

Nevertheless, what DynCorp did - especially regarding vetting - set a very high standard. It's the sustainability that is in question.

What followed was not so good. Pacific Architects & Engineers was contracted to run the collective training programme, to meet a standard developed by Lt Col Chris Wyatt, the ODC Chief at the time, for a modified U.S. Army Readiness Training Program (ARTEP). At the time of transfer between the two contractors, there was a major problem feeding the recruits: Schlieffen Camp, now EBK, had been rebuilt without a dining hall, due to some interorganisational difficulties. This set in motion feeding difficulties which appear to have left their mark to this day.

But in terms of operational effectiveness, the failure of the ARTEP program is probably more important. Ryan Welken's Naval Postgraduate School thesis of June 2010 gives a good summary:

"All six companies failed to meet ARTEP standards.[48] With the exception of C Company, 1st Battalion, 23rd Brigade (C/1/23),[49] every company was evaluated as “untrained” in at least one of the five priority training events. C Company, 2nd Battalion, 23rd Brigade (C/2/23) received the lowest ratings: “untrained” in three of five priority events. ARTEP after-action reports (AARs)[50] highlight many deficiencies. Most companies were identified as having: squad/team leaders that show little initiative and wait for direction; poor supervision from NCOs; poor command and control at all unit levels; mission briefs and rehearsals often not conducted; and overall lack of technical and tactical knowledge demonstrated amongst the soldiers and officers. Companies did not demonstrate basic infantry skills, such as the proper use of security patrols, noise and light discipline, fire control measures, challenge and pass, signal plans, navigation, and camouflage and concealment. Each company lacked the requisite leadership to enforce procedures, standards and directives, which is not surprising considering AFL junior officers avoided the ARTEP training periods."

(Ryan Welken, Rebuilding the Armed Forces of Liberia: an Assessment of the Liberia Security Sector Reform Program
Publisher Monterey, California: Naval Postgraduate School, Issue Date 2010-06)

The poor result was been heralded by previous poor PA&E performance in earlier activities, including a platoon defence exercise in 2008-09. Inconsistent contractor personnel quality had a part to play here. Following the ARTEP, limited training funds made it difficult for the AFL to train to its benchmarks properly.

While introduction of U.S. military mentors to supplement the contractors was always planned, the poor contractor performance hastened the sending and establishment of Operation Onward Liberty, with significant numbers of active-duty U.S. personnel.

PA&E's performance in comparison to DynCorp was no doubt taken into account when the follow-on contract for facilities support was granted from January 1, 2010. Despite PA&E having run the Schlieffen camp while the collective training program was ongoing, DynCorp was awarded the one ongoing contract.

What I conclude in my draft on Defence Reform which I have been writing for Albrecht Schnabel and Heiner is that contractors should not be given the responsibility for re-raising entire armed forces; because while all these operational issues were ongoing there was continuing and  repeated dissatisfaction from the Liberian Parliament because they could not even see the terms of the contract issued to DynCorp and PA&E, along with other problems caused by the convoluted lines of authority for the project. My doctoral thesis lays out a number of these local ownership issues.

So yes, there was a good recruiting, vetting, and initial entry training programme. But having that run by contractors caused much disquiet in parliament and civil society, and the overall performance of PA&E in the collective training programme did not produce two effective battalions (neither, it should be noted, did the first contractor-built armed forces programme, Vinnell in Iraq).