A closer link between NATO’s Defence Planning System and the NATO BI Programme

CIDS policy paper no. 2 (2014)

Integrity defined as a low risk of corruption and other unethical behaviour is only one important aspect of NATO’s BI Programme. Seen as part of the larger picture, integrity has a significant impact on how the Alliance functions – in short, on its system of governance. Some key concepts in that respect are common values, interdependence, credibility and mutual trust.

Political affinity among the Allies is based on common values; first and foremost, democracy based on the rule of law, free elections, a politically autonomous civil society, and respect for human and other fundamental rights. These elements and more may be summarized as good governance. Common values are a requirement for trust. Trust has a significant political dimension but is also based on the credibility of the Alliance in military terms. NATO’s credibility, in short, depends on good defence governance combined with relevant military capabilities. But how does this link up with integrity and anti-corruption? The short answer is: Corruption not only reduces public trust in the defence sector, it also degrades operational effectiveness.

In line with this argument, mutual trust in NATO will largely depend on professional – and thereby credible – policy-making institutions in all member states. These institutions must, inter alia, be capable of providing proper military planning and efficient implementation of decisions made. The latter is an integral part of good governance in the defence sector. Mutual trust among the Allies depends on the credibility of NATO both in political and operational terms. Without professional – and thereby credible – policy-making institutions, an Ally will not deserve trust. All Allies need to keep an open mind when it comes to implementing management reforms and other reforms – to ensure a professional civil and military service with high competence and professional integrity. In short, we can all do better. Nevertheless, some NATO member states and would-be Allies more than others are in need of reforms in order to achieve a better level of integrity in policy-making, as well as the needed professional operational standards. Without a professional civil and military service with high integrity and professional competence in all NATO member states, the political coherence of the Alliance may become undermined in the longer term.

The same goes for military coherence: an Ally or potential Ally with insufficient professional standards is unlikely to acquire the planning capacities that will make the country capable of proper defence planning – and implementation – in line with NATO’s requirements. Underperforming Allies will be a burden for all. These points illustrate why there should be a close link between NATO’s Defence Planning System (NDPS) and the NATO Building Integrity (BI) Programme. NDPS is not a technical exercise separate from good defence governance. BI needs to be mainstreamed. The objectives behind BI should be included as important for all NATO activities – policy formulation and implementation, defence planning, operations, etc.

BI cannot be treated as a niche for those particularly interested and otherwise be disconnected from NATO’s core activities. In fact, BI is already defined as part of Smart Defence, which indisputably connects it to defence planning. This is why including BI as a force goal is a good idea. One possibility could be to propose the formulation of a comprehensive integrity plan for the Armed Forces as a force goal. If required, such a force goal might be presented as a reasonable challenge. It would not require much money or other scarce resources but would highlight the need to ensure good governance and integrity in the defence sector.

Mainstreaming BI as an integral part of NDPS would be a major step forward. A feasible follow-up force goal for a subsequent defence planning cycle could be the implementation of a comprehensive national integrity plan for the Armed forces. There is a need to keep close attention to the crucial link between the formulation of an integrity plan and its actual implementation. Mainstreaming BI would highlight that NATO is about much more than modernization and interoperability of military forces. Unfortunately, good defence governance as a prerequisite has been played down too much during NATO enlargement so far.

NATO enlargement has been both necessary and positive, and NATO’s door remains open. However, the result is a more heterogeneous Alliance. There is a need to mend certain unintended consequences of partly premature enlargement that may, in the longer run, undermine both the political affinity among Allies and NATO’s credibility. Some necessary reform measures need to be taken. Integrity-building is an integral part of that.

Mainstreaming BI and including BI objectives in NDPS could be an important step. The implicit stovepipes that seem to characterize NATO’s Political Affairs and Security Policy Division (PASP) on the one hand, and the Defence Policy and Planning Division (DPP) on the other, should be dismantled. A closer link between NDPS and BI would be an important step.