Defence Institution Building

  • Last updated: 09 May. 2018 16:14

The Partnership Action Plan on Defence Institution Building (PAP-DIB) aims to reinforce efforts by partner countries to reform and restructure their defence institutions to meet domestic needs as well as international commitments.

Centre: NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg greeting Tariq Shah Bahrami (Acting Minister of Defence, Afghanistan)


  • Effective and efficient state defence institutions under civilian and democratic control are fundamental to stability in the Euro-Atlantic area and for international security cooperation, PAP-DIB was launched at NATO’s Istanbul Summit in June 2004.
  • The reform of defence and security institution is often a long and difficult process, and often partner countries are hampered by scarce resources and limited experience. PAP-DIB offers support by defining common objectives for partnership work in this area, encouraging exchange of relevant experience, and helping tailor and focus bilateral defence and security assistance programmes.

  • Objectives

    The objectives of the Action Plan on Defence Institution Building include:

    • effective and transparent arrangements for the democratic control of defence activities;
    • civilian participation in developing defence and security policy;
    • effective and transparent legislative and judicial oversight of the defence sector;
    • enhanced assessment of security risks and national defence requirements, matched with developing and maintaining affordable and interoperable capabilities;
    • optimising the management of defence ministries and other agencies which have associated force structures;
    • compliance with international norms and practices in the defence sector, including export controls;
    • effective and transparent financial, planning and resource allocation procedures in the defence area;
    • effective management of defence spending as well as of the socio-economic consequences of defence restructuring;
    • effective and transparent personnel structures and practices in the defence forces;
    • effective international cooperation and good neighbourly relations in defence and security matters.
  • Key tools for implementation

    Implementation of the Action Plan makes maximum use of existing partnership tools and mechanisms.

    Planning and Review Process

    One of the key instruments that contribute to defence institution building is the Planning and Review Process (PARP). It encourages partners to develop forces and capabilities able to operate alongside Allied nations in operations and other activities. Furthermore, PARP plays a prominent role in the transformation and defence reform of partners’ armed forces. This includes support to the development of national defence and security policy and architectures; efficient and democratically responsible defence institutions and armed forces under democratic and civilian control; and defence planning. PARP is also crucial for countries aspiring to join the Alliance to prepare their forces and capabilities for possible membership.

    Participation in PARP is open to all NATO’s partners with the ambition to pursue a closer relationship with the Alliance. Euro-Atlantic partners participate on a voluntary basis, and other partners may participate as well, upon approval of the North Atlantic Council. Currently, 19 partners take part in PARP – each has its own history and pace of progress, as well as unique needs and priorities.

    Under PARP, Allies and each of the participating partners negotiate a set of tailored planning targets for the individual partner country, known as Partnership Goals. The fulfilment of the Goals is reviewed regularly. In sum, PARP provides a well-established framework to assist partners to develop effective, interoperable, affordable and sustainable armed forces as well as to promote wider defence and security sector transformation and reform efforts. 

    (Learn more about PARP)

    Defence and Related Security Capacity Building Initiative

    Since 2014, defence institution building is also pursued through the Defence and Related Security Capacity Building (DCB) Initiative. It reinforces NATO’s commitment to partners and helps project stability by providing practical support to a number of partners in the form of so-called DCB packages. The aim is to complement support already provided by other NATO partnership tools and programmes, such as PARP.  The DCB packages are based on specific requests for NATO assistance and agreed by the North Atlantic Council. They are tailored to the unique needs and priorities of each country, and rely on mutual political commitment and local ownership. DCB puts great emphasis on sustainability and long-term effects of the assistance provided.

    Currently, DCB packages have been launched for four countries: Georgia, Iraq, Jordan and the Republic of Moldova. Each of the individual DCB packages contains aspects relevant to defence institution building.  The support provided by NATO under DCB includes strategic-level advice on defence and security sector reform and institution-building; development of local forces through education and training; and advice and assistance in specialised areas such as logistics or cyber defence. The packages are implemented thanks to the generous contributions of Allies and partner countries, who provide advisors, trainers and coordinators to work with the recipient countries, as well as funding projects through a DCB Trust Fund.

    (Learn more about DCB)

    Professional Development Programme

    The Professional Development Programme (PDP) assists interested partner countries in developing the professional skills of civilian personnel employed in their defence and security institutions.

    The Programme works with the legislative and executive branches to:

    • increase the professional skills of key civilian specialists responsible for national security and managing reforms;
    • contribute to increasing the resilience of state institutions by focusing on the skills of personnel responsible for addressing security challenges;
    • build the capacity of professional development agencies, in this way directly contributing to establishing self-sustaining local training capacities for the defence and security sectors;
    • address sectoral requirements including effective implementation of specific reform concepts and strategies.

    By addressing these objectives, the Programme contributes to increasing the effectiveness of civil and democratic control of security forces and assists partner countries in establishing modern defence and security institutions in which civilian expertise plays vital roles. Currently, the Programme operates in Georgia and Ukraine.

    NATO Trust Fund on Military Career Transition

    The NATO Trust Fund on Military Career Transition promotes responsible governance in partner countries focused on the development of sustainable and integrated approaches to managing the resettlement of military personnel in the Armed Forces and other defence and security-related state organisations. As its key component, the Programme provides policy advice by identifying all requirements in terms of the recruitment-retention-transition nexus, to assist a partner country to develop the desired human resource management system.

    The work under the Programme extends to developing the necessary legal and normative documents, including guiding documents for human resources management processes, mechanisms, tools and financing as well as implementing communication strategies related to military career transition.

    Practical assistance also takes the form of professional retraining courses to support the successful transition to civilian professional life of released military personnel and facilitating their resettlement by enabling them to acquire an additional professional qualification orientated at the demand of the civilian labour market. The Programme also offers psychological rehabilitation seminars aimed at mitigating post-traumatic stress syndrome disorders among demobilised military servicemen.

    Defence Education Enhancement Programme

    The NATO Defence Education Enhancement Programme (DEEP) is a vehicle for institutional reform. It contributes to international security by making defence education institutions compatible to NATO defence education standards and values.

    DEEP addresses the defence education component of defence institution building, helping to facilitate institutional adaptation by:

    • supporting defence education institutions through faculty development (how to teach) and curriculum development (what to teach);
    • tailored support to meet individual partner defence education requirements, as every defence education institution is different and should be treated individually;
    • multi-year programmes of cooperation managed jointly by NATO and the Partnership for Peace Consortium of Defense Academies and Security Studies Institutes to assist the host nation government defence education system to support the modernisation process.

    (Learn more about DEEP)

    Building Integrity Programme

    The NATO Building Integrity (BI) Programme is part of NATO’s commitment to strengthening integrity, transparency and accountability in the defence and related security sector. Launched in 2007 by the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, BI stems from the PAP-DIB objective to assist nations in reforming their defence and security sector.

    BI promotes the values and principles of good governance. It helps to develop effective and efficient defence institutions under civilian and democratic control, providing tailored support at the institutional and individual levels based on strategic advice and capacity-building activities.

    At the July 2016 NATO Summit in Warsaw, Allied leaders endorsed the BI Policy, recognising that poor governance and corruption are a security threat. The ensuing BI Action Plan noted by Allied foreign ministers in December 2016 provides further guidance for the implementation of BI into NATO’s three core tasks (collective defence, crisis management and cooperative security) as well as to NATO member states and partner countries.

    (Learn more about BI)