Transparency in Defence Management
Publication Type:Book Chapter
Source:Defence Management: An Introduction, Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces, Geneva, p.185-201 (2009)
Transparency in conjunction with accountability is the essence of democracy. Its application, however, varies greatly, especially in the field of defence and security. Defence is different from other areas of government through the monopoly on the use of force and the existence of a trained military establishment, which has its own views on the best way of safeguarding national interests. The primacy of politics over the military has been widely recognised, but harmonious relations require a balance of trust, in which politicians refrain from attempts at micro-management after they have agreed strategic documents and mandates and the military accept to be accountable for the way they implement them. This is particularly important for the conduct of peace support operations, where modern communications tempt the leadership at home to follow every decision of the field commander. But it is also important for the less visible issues of defence management. Defence is also different from other government departments because of its emphasis on the long haul. Planning should be based on a rolling forward plan for 10 years or more but with sufficient flexibility to take account of unforeseen developments and for delays in the realisation of specific items. Other spending departments do not have the same ratio between investment and running costs as defence, which in many ways resembles a commercial company in its activities. The most difficult area in civil-military relations is the allocation of resources, which usually are deemed inadequate by the military for the execution of their tasks, but have to be evaluated by the political bodies in the competition for money with other departments. In the end, politics will prevail, but in a way in which the final responsibility for adequate forces will lie with the politicians in Cabinet and Parliament.