NATO’s Defense Institution Building and Projecting Stability: Current Priorities and Activities

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Alberto Bin


Connections: The Quarterly Journal, Volume 17, Issue 3, p.8-22 (2018)


capacity, Defense Institution Building, DIB, partnership, security, Stability


Emphasizing the interdependence between the security of the Allies and that of their neighborhood, NATO’s “Projecting Stability” agenda constitutes an important step in the organization’s adaptation to the current security environment. Defense Institution Building (DIB) plays a key role in this agenda by supporting partners in developing their defense sectors, thereby contributing to their own stability and that of the entire region.
Under the framework of Partnership Action Plan on Defense Institution Building (PAP-DIB), several programs were developed in order to reach the objectives of the different aspects of DIB, with the ultimate goal of achieving democratic progress and maintaining stability; that is, a modern and democratically-managed security sector which is respected and trusted by the society.
As this article stipulates, the success of these programs is dependent upon many variables including credibility of DIB interventions, their continuity, and the political buy-in and national ownership of reform, as well as the extent to which the interventions are tailored to local conditions.

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If our neighbours are more stable, we are more secure.” This statement,[1] made by the NATO Heads of State and Government at their 2016 Summit in Warsaw, touches upon the core of NATO’s work on Projecting Stability. However, efforts aimed at “projecting stability” are not easy to contextualize and conceptualize – ‘stability’ may carry different connotations depending on the circumstances. Nevertheless, in the NATO’s context, “Projecting Stability” can probably be best explained as “measures to help the Alliance prepare for, deal with and overcome instability in its neighborhood, including with its partners. It is seen as a holistic approach with a spectrum of engagement, running from partnerships with key states, including capacity building, to crisis management measures relying on military capabilities.” [2] Strategically, the Projecting Stability constitutes an important step in the Alliance’s efforts to enhance the security area in the Euro-Atlantic region and beyond by addressing both sources and consequences of instability.

Assisting partners in developing their defense sectors through effective Defense Institution Building (DIB) plays a key role in supporting the Projecting Stability agenda. Defense and security sectors, by their nature serving as the first line of defense, are there to set up ‘barriers’ against internal and external instability. In this context, the DIB instruments which NATO implements with interested partners directly support implementation of the Projecting Stability agenda by responding to the call to build local capacity in the European neighborhood by training local forces, fighting corruption and enhancing democratic institutions. In the words of the NATO Secretary General himself: “the idea of NATO [of] projecting stability is very much about how can we build local capacity in different ways in different countries, not only by training local forces but also by fighting corruption, building institutions.” [3]

NATO’s contribution to the development of effective and efficient state defense institutions also reinforces the Alliance’s commitment to international security cooperation with partners by, among others, assisting them in developing institutional resilience to effectively respond to modern threats and challenges by strengthening relevant capacities in key areas including cyber security, counter-terrorism or border security.[4]

Over the years, NATO has developed and implemented with interested partners various DIB instruments. This article addresses current policy priorities of and practical activities implemented under key NATO’s DIB programs executed by the NATO International Staff Political Affairs and Security Policy Division (PASP).

NATO’s DIB: Key Building Blocks

The Partnership Action Plan on Defense Institution Building (PAP-DIB) provides a key policy framework within which to promote practical cooperation in institutional reforms in and the restructuring of defense sectors. Although it was launched as long ago as at the NATO’s Istanbul Summit in 2004, and despite the changes to the security environment and the emergence of new threats and challenges, its key directions remain valid.

In the context of “Projecting Stability,” suffice it to mention that the key principle of the PAP-DIB—that of NATO assisting interested partners in increasing their ability to establish “effective and efficient state defense institutions under civilian and democratic control”—remains key to both sustaining democratic progress and maintaining internal stability. Indeed, there is no stability without the state ensuring effective democratic control over its security sector which, if uncontrolled, may become a source of instability in itself.

Key examples of the programs which directly support implementation of the PAP-DIB objectives include:

  • Building Integrity (BI);
  • Defense Education Enhancement Program (DEEP);
  • Military Career Transition Program (MCTP); and
  • the Professional Development Program (PDP).

Building Integrity

Building Integrity (BI), which was launched in 2007, is part of a step by step approach to strengthening integrity and good governance in the defense and related security sector elaborated in the PAP-DIB. BI remains an integral part of the Alliance’s ongoing commitment to make the PAP-DIB more operational, translating the words agreed in Istanbul into deeds. How? Since its creation in 2007, NATO BI has developed expertise and new approaches to meet the needs of nations – Allies and Partners. This support is aimed at promoting good practices at the institutional level and enhancing the skill set of civilian and uniformed personnel working in the defense and related security sector.

While some existing NATO partnership tools and mechanisms such as the Trust Fund Policy, the Partnership Planning and Review Process (PARP) and networks such as the Partnership Training and Education Centers (PTECs) were readily adapted, it was also clear that a new approach would be needed to strengthen the good governance component of the defense and security sector. To do this, a new approach was developed making maximum use of existing tools and design of new tools to fill the gaps. This approach of mixing ‘old’ and ‘new’ has led to the creation of a BI toolkit that includes diagnostic tools, references identifying good practices, certified courses, a pool of Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) providing strategic support including peer to peer exchanges and the NATO BI Policy and the Action Plan. The BI Self-Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ) and Peer Review Process is at the heart of BI and is a good example of this innovative approach.

The BI SAQ and the Peer Review Process, trailed by Bosnia and Herzegovina, Norway and Ukraine marked the first new BI tool. The BI SAQ and Peer Review Process draws on NATO’s extensive defense planning experience and proven methodology in the conduct of surveys and the UNODC and OECD peer review processes. The BI SAQ is a diagnostic tool; it covers the functional areas identified in the PAP-DIB. The completed survey provides a snapshot of current institutional procedures, both good practices and areas of risk. The written information is complemented by consultations in capitals. This process provides the basis for the Peer Review and development of a set of recommendations aimed at building good governance in the defense and related security sector. The report is not the end. On request, the NATO BI provides ongoing support, helping nations in developing implementation plans, promoting best practices and developing institutional capacity. In this context, NATO BI is unique in providing tailored long-term support to strengthen integrity, transparency, and accountability in the defense and related security sector.

Implementation of the PAP-DIB objectives requires a long-term commitment of leadership and staff and a multi-year action plan. Given the number of requests for support experienced in 2007-2011, it was clear that a sustainable and structured process was needed to provide consistent and sustainable support to individual nations. As a follow up to the NATO Chicago Summit (2012), BI was recognized as part of the Allied Command Transformation (ACT) Global Programming and established as a NATO Education and Training Discipline. The PASP was designated as the NATO-wide Requirement Authority (RA) and leads on the implementation of the BI Education and Training Plan approved by the North Atlantic Council in August 2012. This was the first step toward sustainability. This decision also provided the foundation for close civil-military cooperation, for the review of lessons learned and development of NATO certified courses conducted online, on residential basis and using mobile training teams.

BI certified courses are conducted on a regular basis at the DIB School in Georgia as well as national facilities from Colombia to Afghanistan. In 2017, the BI conducted training for 2 740 civilian and military representatives. In collaboration with the NATO Defense Education Enhancement Program (DEEP), the NATO BI team is working with Armenia, Ukraine and others to implement the NATO BI Reference Curriculum and develop the next generation of civil and military staff to strengthen good governance and implement key areas of the PAP-DIB.

At the NATO’s Wales Summit (2014), BI and developing institutional capabilities were recognized as key components of the Defense Capacity Building Initiative (DCBI). As of Summer 2018, BI contributes to DCB packages for Georgia, Iraq, Jordan, Moldova and Tunisia as well as partnership packages for Afghanistan, the Kosovo Security Forces and Ukraine. NATO BI has also taken steps to contribute to NATO’s efforts in other areas including combating terrorism and implementation of UNSCR 1325 and related Resolutions.

The NATO BI Policy endorsed by Heads of State and Government (HOSGs) at the Warsaw Summit (2016) established the explicit link between good governance and security and reaffirmed the importance of transparent and accountable defense institutions under democratic control for stability in the Euro-Atlantic Area and for international security cooperation.[5] The BI Action Plan developed by NATO Foreign Ministers sets the course for a strategic approach to integrity and good governance. It identifies concrete steps to make BI conceptually robust and operationally applicable across NATO’s political and military lines of activity. The NATO BI Action Plan is directed at enhancing institutional capabilities, individual capacity, and at mainstreaming BI principles into the fulfilment of NATO’s core tasks: collective defense, crisis management and cooperative security. The first report on the implementation of this Policy was noted by NATO HOSGs at the Brussels Summit in July 2018.

BI: Achievements in Brief

Country-specific strategies are tailored to individual nations and synchronized to national planning processes. This targeted systems-based approach is focused on processes and procedures as well as on assisting the establishment of a professional corps of SMEs to implement BI measures. There is no “one size fits all,” though many nations share common challenges in key functional areas including: procurement, defense acquisition, and contracting; human resources management (HRM); and management of financial resources. Integrity Development Goals have been developed in nine partner nations. Progress is tracked through annual consultations and reporting making use of the PARP Process.

Participation in NATO BI is on a voluntary basis. NATO common funds are supplemented by voluntary contributions to the NATO BI Trust Fund.[6] The NATO BI tools and methodology are being used by NATO Allies and partners alike to assess risks and to build institutional capacity. To date, 20 nations are taking part in the BI Self-Assessment Questionnaire and Peer Review Process. The NATO BI staff promote peer to peer contacts and maintain a network of SMEs drawn from the public and private sector. The expertise on offer corresponds to the subjects identified in the PAP-DIB.

Is NATO BI Making a Difference?

It is almost 15 years since the PAP-DIB was presented at the Istanbul Summit and a decade since the introduction of NATO BI. What has been the impact? In addition to the 2 740 civilian and military representatives who received BI education and training, an independent assessment of NATO BI undertaken by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) confirms that NATO BI has achieved positive medium- and long-term policy impacts. Some of the changes highlighted in the SIPRI Report include:

  • 11 nations have introduced changes in legislation
  • 12 nations have introduced new business practices
  • 15 nations have introduced new education and training requirements; and
  • 16 nations have introduced permanent structures.

What Is Planned for the BI Agenda 2019-2022?

December 2018 marks the end of more than a decade of innovation and achievement for the NATO BI agenda and the PAP-DIB. The development of a strategic political-military framework including the development of the Policy, Action Plan and creation of a new NATO Education and Training Discipline, combine to provide a favorable starting position for BI 2019-2022. While a number of gaps remain, the progress made has been considerable and provides a solid starting position for “BI 2.0” to be launched in January 2019. These NATO-led efforts have also attracted the attention of other International Organizations including the EU, the OECD, the UNODC, and the World Bank. As part of the implementation of the NATO-EU Joint Declaration, the EU will contribute 2 million euro to NATO BI in 2019-2022. In announcing this decision, the EU referred to NATO as the “partner of choice” in promoting good governance in the defense and security sector.

The BI agenda for the next phase will be focused on two inter-connected lines of effort. First, mainstreaming BI into national and NATO policies, plans, procedures, and doctrine. The aim is to shift from ad hoc to institutional arrangements embedding BI and the principles rooted in the PAP-DIB at the strategic, operational and tactical levels. The second line of effort will be aimed at enhancing BI’s engagement; scaling up support with nations already making use of the BI toolkit and resources and raising awareness with nations who, to date, have had limited engagement with the BI agenda. Both of these lines of effort recognize the importance of ongoing monitoring and evidence-based learning.

BI is open to NATO members and partners. The BI Program has benefited considerably from nations’ expertise and sharing of lessons learned.[7]

Defense Education Enhancement Program (DEEP)

Education matters – in the defense sector as in any other realm of political and social life. Defense education is key to developing mature personalities able to make responsible decisions based on a profound understanding of the complexity of modern defense and security issues, professional excellence, and a set of fundamental values and norms. Those personalities are the core of any functioning institution in the defense and military field. Hence, defense education provides an invaluable contribution to NATO’s Defense Capacity Building (DCB) initiatives as well as to its Projecting Stability objectives.

Defense education is a dynamic concept. It requires a clear and comprehensive vision of how a nation’s military personnel—from cadet to general officer—has to be prepared to fulfil its tasks and functions. At the same time, it has to be responsive and adaptive to new developments. International cooperation that allows the exchange of experience and best practices is the ‘silver bullet’ for continuous improvement.

To support the implementation of the defense education component of the PAP-DIB, in 2006 NATO Allies agreed to launch the Education & Training for Defense Reform Initiative which aimed to create a partner-wide collaborative mechanisms and tools to help to implement the PAP-DIB by supporting education of civilian and military personnel in efficient and effective management of national defense institutions under civil and democratic control. Based on this initiative, in 2007 the PASP, together with the Partnership for Peace Consortium of Defense Academies and Security Studies Institutes (PfP Consortium), launched the Defense Education Enhancement Program (DEEP).

DEEP works with partner nations to help to identify the needs and gaps of education institutions in the defense and military domain. The three main components—institutional, curriculum and faculty development—are operationalized via dialogue between institutions in NATO and partner countries as well as peer-to-peer consultations among allied and partner SMEs.

Through DEEP, the Alliance helps partners to modernize and professionalize the organizational structure of Professional Military Education (PME) institutions and to provide solutions to build quality assurance processes within the system. It also helps to review or establish an army-wide concept of the military education, which guides PME institutions through the educational process at all levels.

Aside from helping individual countries to develop their educational institutions, NATO is also aiding them in developing curriculum (“what to teach”), available to all Allies and partners. Years of committed effort by prominent experts from Allied and partner countries have produced five unique products: the Reference Curriculum on Defense Institution Building, on the Professional Military Education for Officers and on the Professional Military Education for Non-Commissioned Officers, Cyber Security and Counter Insurgency (COIN). Counter-terrorist Reference Curriculum is currently under development.

Faculty development (“how to teach”) is the third pillar of DEEP in addition to institutional assistance and curriculum development. NATO helps to maintain an international professional network which brings together defense and military educators from Allied and partner countries to exchange experience in teaching methodologies and support those interested via peer-to-peer advice and assistance.

The Alliance has developed and relies on a vast transatlantic web of institutions and individuals who support these projects on a voluntary basis. Some 70 defense education Allied and partner institutions have engaged in DEEP: the US Joint Forces Staff College, the US Army War College, the US Naval War College, the Bulgarian Naval Academy, the Canadian Defence Academy, the National Defense University of Poland, the National Defense University of Romania, the Czech University of Defense, the Slovak Armed Forces Academy, the German Führungs Akademie, the Geneva Centre for Security Policy, the George C. Marshall Center in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, to name just a few. The NATO Defense College and the NATO School Oberammergau also support the program. The Partnership for Peace Consortium of Defense Academies and Security Studies Institutes, an Austrian-German-Swiss-Canadian-Polish-US initiative, is instrumental in helping NATO to manage the network and the DEEP projects, with a dedicated working group, the Education Development Working Group.

There are currently 13 individual country DEEP programs, with different focus and at different stages of development, engaging Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia,[8] Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mauritania, the Republic of Moldova, Mongolia, Serbia, Tunisia, and Ukraine.

DEEP is and will continue to have long-term sustaining impact on partner nation professional military education systems. It has proven to be an excellent support program for the sustainment of other DCB and DIB programs, and is a core project under the Projecting Stability initiative. As a clear illustration of Allied commitment to this area of work, in 2014 at their Wales Summit, Allied Heads of State and Government stated that they “will continue to build defence capacity and interoperability through such initiatives as the Defence Education Enhancement Programme.” [9] At their Summit in Warsaw, they further stated that “NATO’s added-value in contributing to the international community’s efforts includes its ability to offer defence reform assistance and advice in a coherent way, its recognized track record in the training and development of local forces, including in more difficult circumstances, and defense education.” [10]

Military Career Transition Program (MCTP)

The NATO’s Military Career Transition Program is another initiative directly supporting the successful pursuit of the DIB and Projecting Stability objectives. It aims to support the design, development and implementation of an operational, sustainable, effective and integrated approach of military personnel career transition embedded in the Armed Forces personnel management function. The program can also be implemented in other organizations of the national security sector with military formations.

A robust and effective system of military career transition to professional life is a fundamental pillar of personnel support and a tangible manifestation of the Armed Forces’ positioning as an attractive employer. It allows military workforce to serve with a sense of security, knowing that they will receive appropriate assistance helping them to be prepared for civilian life including future employment after they leave the service. Employment or self-employment are often the most important pillar for this transition. Choosing which career to pursue often influences other elements of transition from the Armed Forces such as the choice of location for housing, education, health and welfare. The personnel need to address these issues before their departure and supporting them in this process constitutes a key element of modern HRM.

The experience acquired by the NATO Allies indicates that a comprehensive coverage, starting as early as the time of entry in the Armed Forces, contributes to military personnel’s loyalty and to the Armed Forces’ overall performance. Recruitment, retention and transition back to civilian life constitute the three main components of quality-oriented HRM in the security sector. Resettlement is another important element in military recruitment and retention of highly qualified personnel. Improving the Armed Forces effectiveness at tackling these issues can be described, overall, as “Managing Personnel Life Cycles”: it constitutes a continuous process that covers the recruiting, developing and discharging of personnel.

Defining the overall concept for HRM, as well as the concept of military career transition system, is a policy decision typically made at the level of command and leadership. Choice of military career transition model requires the defense system leadership to set up an effective transition system and to manage the military personnel with a long-term perspective, adjusting to upcoming security challenges, emerging constraints, and societal and economic dynamics. It underlines the importance of an effective system to support re-integration of service leavers into civilian life.

With military skills that are not easily transferable to civilian life, many former military personnel must adapt their current skills or learn new ones. The current economic climate has made the transition even more difficult but NATO’s MCTP helps former military personnel to carve out a new career and a new livelihood. The Program plays a significant role in the DIB process of making defense and security sectors more resilient to prevent or minimize instability and conflict. NATO applies three key elements to support interested partners in addressing these objectives: all three in Ukraine and one of them in Kyrgyzstan.

Resettlement Program

The Resettlement Program operates in Ukraine since 2000 under the NATO’s civil budget. It aims to facilitate the re-integration process for the released professional military personnel by enabling them to acquire an additional professional qualification in correspondence with the demand of the civilian labor market. It thus enhances the national workforce and, in doing so, prevents social instability, especially in times of military transition and conflict.

The average percentage of the Program graduates’ re-integration into the civilian labor market over the years is not less than 75 %. Until June 2018, the Program assisted to around 10 200 graduates from the Ukrainian Armed Forces (UAF), the National Guard of Ukraine, the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine, and the Security Service of Ukraine in more than 65 locations all over the territory of Ukraine in vocational training and job finding assistance.

NATO has been implementing a similar resettlement program in Kyrgyzstan where some 1 200 graduates received resettlement support between 2010 and the first half of 2018.

Policy Advice Component: Military Career Transition Trust Fund (MCT TF)

Under the lead of Norway, with contributions from Albania, Croatia, Greece, Luxembourg, Portugal, and Turkey, the MCT TF assists Ukraine in developing and implementing a sustainable, effective and integrated approach of the MCT and resettlement of military personnel embedded in the personnel management function of the UAF and other participating state organs with military formations such as the National Guard and the State Border Guard Service. The MCT Program is focused on militaries and their families; it also promotes peace through qualitative democracy, good governance principles and values such as the promotion of fundamental freedoms and human rights, justice, and the rule of law.

Since its launch, the MCT TF has delivered various analyses, conceptual work and policy considerations, as well as practical activities in a number of areas such as familiarization visits and professional development training of selected SMEs. Different resettlement systems of NATO member states have been examined along with experiences of how social adaptation is coordinated, organized and implemented in conjunction with military hierarchies and adjacent politics. A possible Ukrainian MCT model was developed, and the pre-conditions for installing the functional support at the 1st line and the 2nd line of resettlement within the state organs with military formations and the 3rd labor market assistance line within the state employment service, have been identified.

The concept, developed by the MCT TF, is a simple, evidence-based and quickly realizable model. Sets of criteria and methodological tools defining the key elements (organization, eligibility criteria and benefits) of the foreseen resettlement system also have been submitted to Ukraine for consideration by its Authorities.

Psychological Rehabilitation Component

In addition to the resettlement activities and the provision of policy advice on MCT, NATO has since 2014 assisted the Ukrainian armed personnel in managing psychological consequences of the crisis in Ukraine. Supported by the NATO’s civil and the MCT TF budgets, these activities aim to address urgent short-term needs enabling former (Anti-Terrorist Operation) Joint Forces Operation participants’ smooth reintegration into civilian life. The objective is to prevent and overcome the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) by determining the ways of post-traumatic personal development. The activity also contributes to setting up an overarching sustainable system of the psychological rehabilitation inside the Ukrainian military structures.

From November 2014 until September 2018 the total of 187 psychological rehabilitation seminars for the military servicemen reached around 7 486 beneficiaries (from the Armed Forces, the National Guard and the State Border Guard Service) in 79 different locations all over the territory of Ukraine.

Professional Development Program (PDP)

State institutions play an extremely important role in ensuring democratic development and security of the state. Equally important are the personnel employed in these organizations: their skills and talents are essential to increasing the state’s ability to ensure accountability, implement reforms and respond to security challenges. The Professional Development Program (PDP) is a capacity-building initiative aimed specifically at increasing skills of key civilians responsible for national security.

The NATO-Ukraine Professional Development Program

The NATO-Ukraine Professional Development Program was launched in 2005. With the United Kingdom as the Lead Nation, the Program has worked to, inter alia, facilitate organizational development and implementation of systematic reforms in Ukraine’s public sector; support capacity building of Ukrainian professional development agencies and training centers, thereby enabling them to deliver sustainable high-quality training and education to civil servants in the wider defense and security sector; and enhance individual skills of Ukraine’s civil servants engaged in Euro-Atlantic integration.

The total amount of direct financial contributions in support of the PDP Ukraine received from the donor Nations amounts to more than 2 million EUR, and in 2011-2016 alone, the PDP offered various training opportunities to some 9 000 civil servants in Ukraine. Trainings addressed areas such as policy development, civilian and democratic control of security forces, internal audit, Critical Infrastructure Protection, and others.

Strategic Reorientation of the PDP Ukraine

In 2016, the PDP initiated its internal transformation to better align its policies and activities with the strategic realities in Ukraine, and to more effectively respond to the strategic objectives of NATO-Ukraine relations. Since then, the PDP also has worked to establish an institutional framework in Ukraine that would be fully responsive to these new requirements. As a result, the Program has forged a partnership with the Office of the Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration to ensure cross-ministerial cooperation, shared opportunities and joint training activities. The Program also cooperates with other institutions in Ukraine including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, the Presidential Administration, the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, the Verkhovna Rada (the Parliament) of Ukraine, the Ministry of Defense, and other organizations.

What Is New about the Approach?

In addition to its traditional mission of working together with Ukraine to increase the effectiveness of civil and democratic control of security forces, the Program now focuses on skills of key civilians responsible for national security policy and reform while enforcing the country’s capacity to respond to security challenges. It also assists Ukraine in implementing various NATO-Ukraine instruments more effectively. New concepts which the Program has introduced include specific modules for representatives of Ukraine’s public sector focusing on, inter alia, foreign policy, Hybrid Warfare, Strategic Communications, Leadership, Management, and Gender, the NATO Crisis Management and Response Planning, and the Annual National Program of Ukraine (ANP) – a key policy and implementation instrument which Ukraine uses to design and implement its cooperation with NATO.

As part of its transformation, the Program has also developed a new concept to assist the Government of Ukraine in identifying and increasing professional skills of the key personnel involved in reform efforts, thus helping Ukraine to establish the pool of certified professionals able to handle reform in the security and defense sector of Ukraine. The new principle is to effectively target the Ukrainian civil servants from the wider defense and security sector, directly involved in Euro-Atlantic integration, and to intensify the PDP efforts aimed at establishing sustainable training capacities within a number of the Ukrainian educational institutions, including the Diplomatic Academy.

As a practical activity in the above areas, the PDP Ukraine has developed a new comprehensive modular training concept to facilitate enhanced understanding of Euro-Atlantic principles and standards – the so-called “Champions 100” project. The participants in the project are expected to attend a series of training modules, each developed with the relevance to the critical reform initiatives underway in Ukraine. To assist Ukraine in maximizing the effectiveness of NATO-Ukraine instruments, particular attention is also directed towards supporting the Government of Ukraine in increasing the Ukrainian civil servants’ skills to manage assistance available under the NATO Comprehensive Assistance Package (CAP), and providing training enabling the Ukrainian staffs to effectively implement the ANP. To support Ukrainian civil servants in addressing their routine tasks, the Program also offers practical “soft skills training” including project management, computer skills and presentational techniques. All these skills are vital for establishing the Euro-Atlantic working culture and interacting with international experts.

The NATO-Georgia Professional Development Program

The NATO-Georgia Professional Development Program is an instrument provided by the Allied Nations to support Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic integration aspirations. The Program was established in 2009 based on the request of the Government of Georgia. It aims to support Georgian Government in ongoing reforms and enhance the professional skills of key civilian officials, particularly in the security sector, in order to strengthen capacity for effective democratic management and oversight.

In the past eight years, the Program has expanded from a narrow focus on the Ministry of Defense (MOD) to the wider defense and security sector and, finally, to the whole civil service – from individual skill building to system level impact. The PDP Georgia has been actively involved in planning and implementing the HRM reform at the MOD; the planning of the Civil Service Reform; conducting the Functional Analysis projects; development of the National Policy and Strategy on Critical Infrastructure; the drafting of the National Military Strategy; development of the Code of Ethics; introduction of the evidence-based decision making in policy; facilitating inter-agency cooperation and coordination; establishment of the Professional Development Center in Georgia (currently the Defense Institution Building School – the DIB School); institutional enhancement of governmental professional development entities; “training of trainers” activities; development of handbooks, manuals and educational videos; engagement in strategic defense planning and the Total Defense concept; and support of the cyber security development at a national level.

Following its transformation in 2016, the Program’s ultimate objective is to ensure a positive impact on Georgia’s public sector development by creating a lasting legacy that can support the country’s NATO aspirations beyond the Program’s life-span. Specific priorities of the Program in the current phase aim to continue:

  • supporting the Georgian Government in key ongoing reforms with a specific emphasis on defense and security including in the areas such as defense and security architecture building and critical infrastructure policy development and implementation;
  • ensuring coherence with the NATO instruments in Georgia including in the framework of the Annual National Program of Georgia, and, last but not least,
  • contributing to maximizing the effectiveness of parliamentary oversight over the defense and security sector.


Since the adoption of the PAP-DIB in 2004, NATO has developed a set of DIB instruments aimed at translating its objectives into action. Focused on various aspects of DIB, these programs of practical cooperation contribute to developing capacities necessary to increase the effectiveness of civil and democratic control of security forces. Regardless of whether they aim to enhance ways in which nations develop and manage their defense and security sectors, seek to assist nations to promote good governance in their security structures, address corruption as a security risk, enhance their defense education, increase skills of their personnel or provide expertise in modern HRM, they are all intended to address the prerequisite of achieving democratic progress and maintaining stability, that is, a modern and democratically-managed security sector which is respected and trusted by the society.

Obviously, as NATO’s and partner experience shows, the success of DIB is dependent upon several factors including credibility of DIB interventions, their continuity, and the political buy-in and national ownership of reform. To the maximal extent possible, DIB activities should also be tailored to local conditions and take into account specific circumstances under which a partner government implements reforms in their defense and security sector including legacy issues and cultural factors. In addition, DIB should be addressed in the context of a national security architecture of a partner nation, rather than sectoral requirements, in order to avoid fragmentation of effort and ensure a lasting and positive impact on the security sector, taken as a whole.

Finally, the successful pursuit of NATO’s DIB objectives has been possible due to the funding made available under the NATO civil budget. In addition, the NATO staffs have, for years, established innovative ways in which Allied and interested partner countries have been able to contribute to implementing DIB activities through either financial and in-kind contributions or making their national personnel (Voluntary National Contributions) available to support NATO’s efforts in these areas. This unique community of effort is behind the success of the Alliance’s DIB activities which have assisted many partner countries in modernizing their defense structures, thus increasing their national security and maintaining or restoring stability. For this, if for no other reasons, the PAP-DIB was worth adopting back in 2004.


The views expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).



About the Author

Dr. Alberto Bin is Director, Integration, Partnership and Cooperation in the Political Affairs and Security Policy Division at NATO Headquarters in Brussels. Prior to that, Dr. Bin was Head of the Mediterranean, Middle East and Global Partners Section in the same Division. Before joining NATO, he has achieved a distinguished career in academia, as well as in private sector.


[1]    The Warsaw declaration on Transatlantic Security, issued by the Heads of State and Government participating in the meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Warsaw, July 8-9, 2016; accessed September 13, 2018,

[2]    Ruben Díaz-Plaja, “Projecting Stability: an agenda for action,” NATO Review, March 13, 2018, accessed September 13, 2018,

[3]    “Projecting Stability Beyond Our Borders,” Speech by NATO Secretary General, Mr. Jens Stoltenberg, at the Graduate Institute Geneva, March 2, 2017, accessed September 13, 2018,

[4]    At their 2018 NATO Summit in Brussels, NATO Heads of State and Government reinforced their commitment to help NATO’s Partners to increase their ability to confront today’s security challenges by reaffirming their determination to help them “to build stronger defence institutions, improve good governance, enhance their resilience, provide for their own security, and more effectively contribute to the fight against terrorism.” Brussels Summit Declaration, issued by the Heads of State and Government participating in the meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Brussels, July 11-12, 2018, accessed September 13, 2018,

[5]    HOSGs invited NATO’s partners to be associated to the NATO BI Policy. As of August 1, 2018, the following nations are associated to the NATO BI Policy: Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Colombia, Finland, Georgia, Ireland, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Malta, Republic of Moldova, Serbia, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia,* Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan.

*Turkey recognizes the Republic of Macedonia with its constitutional name.

[6]    Contributing nations as of 1 August 2018 are the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Poland, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

[7]    For more information about BI see

[8]    Turkey recognizes the Republic of Macedonia with its constitutional name.

[9]    Wales Summit Declaration, issued by the Heads of State and Government participating in the meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Wales, September 5, 2014, accessed September 13, 2018,

[10] Warsaw Summit Communiqué, issued by the Heads of State and Government participating in the meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Warsaw July 8-9, 2016, accessed September 13, 2018,

Last updated: Tuesday, 16 June 2020