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          • Year: 2004
          • Reform of the Ministry of Defence and Serbian and Montenegrin Armed Forces

          • 25. may 2004. Colonel Miroslav Mladenović, PhD, Executive Manager of the Reform Team in the SCG Defence Ministry


          In encyclopaedias and dictionaries, the term reform (from the new Latin word reforma, change, alteration) assumes modification, transformation, reorganisation, that is restoration of certain state. It is most often applied in the field of structural changes of the society, social order, relationships, particular institutions and organisations. In Serbia and Montenegro, the reform of the security sector is a result of changes, first of all, of international circumstances (disintegration of bipolar system, change of leading military group’s strategy, and, in that respect, redefining the security threats and risks), second, the product of changes in the immediate environment including the relatively successful and rapid adaptation of majority of neighbouring countries to European and world security integrations and, certainly, a part of even more complicated and contradictory processes within the society itself, starting from a confusing normative and institutional framework, through economic and technological backwardness, high social tension and fragmented political culture to still a significant inconsistency in understanding and relationships with the international community. In such a complex environment, the reform of the security sector in the state union of Serbia and Montenegro is also extremely complex and time consuming process which encroaches on all important spheres of the social life.

          Reform of the armed forces and, in that regard, the reform of the Ministry and Serbian and Montenegrin Armed Forces is undoubtedly one of issues which, practically or ideologically, have been dealt with by all government administrations and all leading and command structures of the Ministry of Defence and the Armed Forces. Despite some changes, the fact is that we can speak only about partial indicators of the reorganisation of armed forces and Ministry, rather than their reform.

          Essentially, defence system reform has appeared so far as an attempt (more or less successful) of different public institutions, principally the Ministry of Defence and General Staff to carry out restructuring of the inherited organisational charts, procedures, personnel, information and communication technologies, decision-making process, organisation and exercising the competences according to changing circumstances and initiated integration processes.

          One of the new results in this context is the recent establishment of the Serbia and Montenegro Defence Ministry Reform Team, created on the basis of the Agreement signed on July 17, 2003 between the Minister of Defence, Boris Tadić and the representative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Francis O`Donnell.

          The MoD Reform Team was created in December 2003 and is not the only institution that deals with these issues. The significance of this team is that it has been formed on the basis of the international agreement and because the international dimension is clearly pointed out in its organisation. That fact, actually, can be interpreted in at least two ways: on one hand it is the opportunity to use the experiences of other countries in the most direct manner because there are two advisers from Great Britain included in the Team, and also, the presence of people from abroad, under the auspices of the UNDP programme, strongly shows our, almost generally accepted, determination for cooperation and integration with international institutions and organisations. It should also be mentioned that, atypically for the institutions which have been dealing with reforms until now, the Team is mainly composed as a group of young people and persons who do not have important positions in the Armed Forces and the Ministry.

          There are three main starting points in its work:

          1. reform of the defence system is an expensive, comprehensive and a constant process;

          2. reform cannot be carried out by local personnel only;

          3. reform of the defence system must be an integral part of broader social reform, which first of all assumes the democratic civil control and public oversight of defence sector.

          1. Regarding the first thesis, it must be taken into consideration that the reform of the existing system is a process that cannot be realised without provision of additional finances. In this regard, it is necessary to establish a modern system of budgeting that, among the other things, assumes finding out system and real solutions for financing of defence and reform. One of the first tasks in that sense is provision of the transparency of budget and its expenditures in order to gain necessary support from the government institutions, and first of all from the citizens. However, the existing budget funds, which are already restrictive, cannot be sufficient for executing the reform. One of the possible solutions, applied in other countries in transition, could be creating a special fund for those purposes.

          The role of the Team in this sense may be of extreme importance because it is certain that the project and subprojects, which it brings, will attract many donors and support from the UNDP programme.

          Apart from that, it has already been pointed out that the reform cannot give the desired effects if it is not an integral part of the reform of the society on the whole. In this sense, that process may be viewed in several levels:

          Normative: expressed in insufficient harmonisation of the Constitutional Charter, laws and competences of the state union with the constitutions, laws and competences of the member states; it is particularly necessary to adopt adequate documents related to the regulation of defence and security sector as well as documents to define the internal organisation and systematisation of job positions within the Ministry and the General Staff.

          Organisational - functional: it is necessary to carry out professional functional analysis of the Ministry and General Staff in order to examine the current situation and its harmonisation with the related institutions in the world; initial analyses carried out by the Reform Team (The Mountain Top View method) show that there are many overlaps in functions and that a number of the existing functions is not customary for the defence and security sector.

          Informational and technological: the state of present information and communications technology is not at the satisfactory level neither is the manner of its use, especially in the sense of automation and modernisation of procedures and internal information and notification among the bodies and institutions; the basis of communication, from the highest to the simplest issues, is still done in traditional manner with rubber stamp and (often meaningless) signature of confidentiality.

          Human resources management and development: it is necessary to define the strategy and policy of human resources management regarding the employment, introducing into work, promotion, modernisation, conversion, etc.; most job positions in the Ministry do not require military expertise: an officer in the Ministry of Defence should be posted where precisely the officer's role is required (it is very often the case that they work on the principle of a civilian in the uniform).

          Educational: directly connected with professional training of people in the reform sense; it is necessary to make people realise that the reforms are not a threat but the chance and opportunity to live and work better, more efficiently and more rationally.

          Cultural: change in culture of behaviour in the reform sense assumes development of critical way of thinking and questioning, for each individual and institution, what, how and in which manner, we are working compared to the previous period. An inevitable and very important issue is where we are compared to the outside world.

          It is wrong to think that reform may be designed and completed quickly and once and for all. It is a continuing process because it relates to the present state that is in continuing development and changes. Security challenges are not the same as they were 50, 10 or 5 years ago, and they will certainly be changing in the future. Considering that situation, some ministries in the developed countries have reform teams that are permanent bodies, in charge of monitoring the development of the situation in the area of security of the society and recommending appropriate changes. In the area of defence there cannot be made a scheme that ought to be achieved. On the contrary, only a studious approach, starting from the scientific gathering of information and its processing and completing with the relevant analysis of the current situation in the end, can make it possible to implement adequate changes in the structure and practices of the institutions in the field of defence and security.

          Even Aristotle in his analysis of constitutions of antique societies showed, contrary to Plato’s opinion, that there is no ideal order applicable to all conditions and all times. According to him, different models and solutions may be equally successful, depending on the circumstances of their application. In that sense, the use of foreign experience in designing our own defence system must be a creative job that should not be reduced to simple copying of the studied models.

          2. One of the main requirements of the quality approach to defence security sector reform is that the institutions dealing with this should include in their composition different organisations and individuals from the overall social structure not bypassing, certainly, the foreign experts. In that sense, the Reform Team of the Ministry of Defence of Serbia and Montenegro follows this logic, both in organisational and substantial sense, with always-present knowledge of the specific needs, capabilities and characteristics of the country.

          3. As it has already been pointed out, the reform of the defence system is a complex job that is an integral part of the reform of society as a whole. Even the most justified requirements, like democratic civil control, cannot be met if they are not accompanied by adequate, changed, social environment. To create political democracy it is necessary to build social structure and values, which would be able to assist democracy. Establishing democracy is a very important job, as Jean Jacques Rousseau warned, but the preparation of people for democracy is yet more important. Taking into consideration these views, for the sake of the defence reform, the reform of other institutions of the society must be also carried out. In simple words, a non-reformed parliament (with old culture of relationships, unchanged perception of security, democracy, etc.) cannot be a proper element of the civil control of the military, etc. A danger of establishing some form of subjective civil control over the armed forces in the countries of post socialist period is still pretty high since civil (but not democratic) control has already existed in them but without democracy.

          The evaluation of the achieved level of the armed forces of SCG reform ranges between very broad (black to white) limits and mostly depends on the position of one who is making the evaluation. Reality is that reform is not at the very beginning but the main questions are still there and that the main steps have not been made yet. Many problems require more time and more money. "It is useless to climb the stilts, when we still have to use our legs for them", said Montaigne. In that sense, the future activities in the reform of the Ministry and the SMAF must be coordinated with the process of democratisation and reformation of the overall social reality, because there is no democratic control of any sector if the society is not democratic. Unfortunately, the change in political culture, tradition, economic basis, development of civil society etc. requires much more time than we may wish. The establishment of institutions itself, as well as adoption of proper normative acts for their work, is relatively easy job but the question is where is the tolerance threshold between the democratic form of political institutions and non-democratic environment in which they should operate.

        • Tags: reform, military, Serbia, Montenegro, Defense Ministry, armed forces
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