DoD Building Foreign Defense Institutions

01.28.16 | 2 min read | Text by Steven Aftergood

As part of its international defense cooperation activities, the Department of Defense has long been involved in supporting military institutions in various allied nations.

Yesterday, a new DoD directive was issued to formally structure and to assign responsibility for executing what is called the Defense Institution Building (DIB) program.

“DoD, in coordination with other appropriate U.S. departments and agencies and when authorized by law, will develop the capabilities and capacity of allied and partner nation defense institutions in support of defense strategy,” according to the new directive. See Defense Institution Building (DIB), DoD Directive 5205.82, January 27, 2016.

The directive does not mention any specific nation in which such development is to be performed, but it would presumably include countries such as Afghanistan.

The Washington Post reported this week that “There is a broad recognition in the Pentagon that building an effective Afghan army and police force will take a generation’s commitment, including billions of dollars a year in outside funding and constant support from thousands of foreign advisers on the ground.” (“The U.S. was supposed to leave Afghanistan by 2017. Now it might take decades” by Greg Jaffe and Missy Ryan, January 26).

Defense institution building (DIB) is intended to “increase a partner nation’s ability to organize, administer, and oversee its defense institutions to meet its security needs and contribute to regional and international security more effectively,” the directive said. It will “enable recipients to conduct or support unilateral, combined, or coalition operations that advance U.S. national security interests.”

DIB should be conducted in such a way as to “promote principles vital to the establishment of defense institutions that are effective, accountable, transparent, and responsive to national political systems, especially regarding good governance, oversight of security forces, respect for human rights, and the rule of law. DIB should contribute to the establishment or strengthening of democratic governance of defense and security forces.”

The new DoD directive cited over a dozen existing statutes that it said provided legal authority for specific DIB activities.