The Persistent Demand for Defense Institution Building

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Connections: The Quarterly Journal, Volume 17, Issue 3, p.5-7 (2018)


Editorial article for the special issue on Defense Institution Building

Full text (HTML): 

Transparent and accountable, efficient and effective Defense Institution Building (DIB) is one of the shared values that binds together not only NATO but also NATO’s Partnership Programming. In this way, DIB is also an essential part of defense management and reform.

DIB was originally made the subject of a Partnership Action Plan (PAP) in 2004 by the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC), which thus affirmed its conviction that accountable and transparent, effective and efficient state defense institutions under democratic civilian control are fundamental to stability in the Euro-Atlantic area and essential to international defense and security co-operation.[1] Defense Institution Building—already implemented or convincingly committed to—is thus also a sine qua non for comprehensive partnership with NATO. DIB is not an alternative to existing bilateral programs of cooperation on reform, such as the Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP); rather, it is intended to complement and support these programs by facilitating EAPC-wide exchange of knowledge and by promoting multilateral cooperation on issues of common concern.

PAP-DIB reflects Allies’ and Partners’ common views—thus an acquis—on modern and democratically responsible defense institutions, provides a EAPC definition of defense reform and a framework for common reflection and exchange of experience on related problems.[2] PAP-DIB aims to reinforce efforts by EAPC Partners to initiate and carry forward reform and restructuring of defense institutions to meet their needs and the commitments undertaken in the context of the Partnership for Peace Framework Document and EAPC Basic Document, as well as the relevant Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) documents including the OSCE Code of Conduct on Politico-Military Aspects of Security.

The contribution to this special issue by Dr. Alberto Bin begins the discussion with an overarching look at NATO’s commitment to increasing its own security by way of helping neighbors improve their defense institutions. Important lessons have been learned in the process: a broader definition of security must include a Whole-of-Government approach; institutional resiliency is the ultimate goal; individualized approaches should be designed for each partner nation involved; institutional change requires long term commitments of leadership and staff, along with multi-year action plans and funding streams – all that with the aim to promote good governance through democratically managed security sectors that are respected and trusted by their societies.

Both the U.S. European Command (EUCOM) and the Defense and Security Cooperation Agency have acknowledged the importance of DIB (the latter in the context of Defense Capacity Building – DCB) and made it a cooperation pillar. Enforced and complemented by such parallel efforts as the Building Integrity Initiative and Defense Capacity Building, and used in reconstruction contexts in Iraq and Afghanistan, the ten “PAP-DIB commandments” laid down in 2004 remain relevant, but need to be re-interpreted in each new context.

In the US context, DIB was codified into law in 2016 through the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). As Alexandra Kerr documents in her excellent article, DIB thus rose from a relatively unknown, bottom-up effort to a premier discipline in the US DOD with importance for the whole security and defense cooperation effort whose primary objective is to enable partners to build capacities for sharing costs and responsibilities of global leadership.

In the following article, Marcin Koziel argues that hybrid activities by both state and non-state actors create ambiguity thereby paralyzing the state and leading to conditions for conflict. Defense against such a hybrid conflict requires responses by internal security forces, intelligence agencies, state-owned media, border security, non-state actors, and civil society; all of which requires DIB to have a Whole-of-Government—even a whole-of-society—strategic concept to build resilience in partners’ defense systems.

According to the contribution of one of the guest editors of this special issue, Judith Reid, propaganda is used by some regimes to soften enemy terrain before full on military attack. Effective negative communications programs are targeted to a society’s specific cultural paradigms so as not to be perceived by the targeted nation. These tactics can be used by outsiders (e.g. Russia on Ukraine) or by insiders (Hugo Chavez in Venezuela). By using Hofstede’s model to understand the pillars of collective behavior within Central and Eastern European countries, one can uncover vulnerabilities to external persuasion, and can also discover corresponding defenses against the negative exaggeration of collective emotions.

The article by Chincilla and Poast provides a case study of the Baltic experience engaging the defense institution building process as a path to NATO membership, focusing on the role the creation of the Baltic Battalion played in sharing of technical assistance and DIB resources.

The next three articles present the experience of Ukraine. First, Maksym Bugriy analyzes attempts to reform Ukraine’s Security Sector Reform in view of the legacy of centralized decision making, corruption, nepotism, low salaries, a hollow reserve force, and conscripted troops. Then Leonid Polyakov takes the reader through a historical review of Ukraine’s military posture since the dissolution of the Soviet Union onto today, with the transformation to an all-volunteer professional force, improved reserve forces and mobilization processes, increased financial support of defense, and massive upgrades in armaments and materiel, all that while engaging Russia’s information operations. Pierre Jolicoeur wraps up this issue with analysis of the experience in the implementation of NATO’s Defense Education Enhancement Program (DEEP), seen as one of the best ways for NATO to engage Ukraine in light of Russia’s negative campaign on the country.


This special issue of Connections seeks to establish the status of Defense Institution Building in a changed and changing world, while looking into future needs and opportunities. DIB has emerged as the strategic linchpin to collective defense for NATO and its partners. Now codified in policy and staffing, what is the next step in the march toward coalition intellectual interoperability?

The editors would like to thank the authors and their colleagues in the Connections editorial team – Jean Callaghan, Sean Costigan and Todor Tagarev for the inspiring cooperation. Thanks also go to the Consortium for this great opportunity to revisit Defense Institution Building at this crucial time.


About the Authors and Guest Editors of This Special Issue

Dr. Philipp Fluri is assistant director of the Geneva Center for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces with a portfolio encompassing Eastern Europe, South Caucasus and Central Asia.

Dr. Judith Reid – see the short CV on p. 60 of this issue.

[1]    “Partnership Action Plan on Defence Institution Building (PAP-DIB),” NATO e-Library, Official Texts, June 7, 2004, last updated June 8, 2010,

[2]    For a discussion of the early concept of DIB see Willem Van Eekelen and Philipp Fluri, eds., Defence Institution Building: A Sourcebook in Support of the Partnership Action Plan (Geneva: DCAF, 2006); Thomas-Durell Young and Todor Tagarev, “Planning and Development of Defense Institutions in a Time of Transformation,” Connections: The Quarterly Journal 5, no. 1 (2006): 1-3; Hari Bucur-Marcu, Defence Institution Building – A Self-Assessment Kit (Geneva: DCAF, 2010); as well as the two special DIB issues of Connections: Spring-Summer 2006 and Summer 2008.

Last updated: Tuesday, 16 June 2020