Improve civil-military relations, armies urged


Pascalinah Kabi

DEFENCE and security agencies across the world must effectively manage partnership between politicians, civil service and military to enhance stability.

This was said by Laura Cleary, a renowned English security expert, at the Makoanyane Barracks in Maseru this week. Professor Cleary said this while addressing 30 security personnel from Angola, Botswana, eSwatini, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia and Lesotho who are participating in the two-week course on ‘Managing Defence in the Wider Security Context’.

Prof Cleary said there are always tensions within the civil-military relations which needed to be addressed through an effective partnership between politicians, civilians and security agencies.

The Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) has experienced its fair share of tensions with civilians since independence from Britain in 1966.  A 2015 Southern African Development Community (SADC) commission of inquiry concluded that the apparent disregard of civilian rule by the military in Lesotho had a long history.

“The military in Lesotho has, over the years, been dogged by controversy and has a history of seizing power as evidenced by the 1986 military coup, the conflicts of 1994 and 1998 and the political and security unrest of 2007,” SADC said in its report.

The two week course was organised by the British High Commission and Prof Cleary, who heads the Centre for International Security and Resilience, is one of the course directors engaged to train the 30 participants.

Addressing the participants, Prof Cleary said all course instructors were honoured to deliver the training in Lesotho for the first time. She said they hope to closely work with the course participants to find solutions to challenges facing defence forces in their respective countries.

“The defence forces of the world find themselves under increasing strain, they adapt new threats and new missions.

“There is growing realisation that if those defence forces and wider security services are to succeed in providing the level of security the citizens demand we need to rethink how we govern security and how we manage our security services.

“One of the core principles of this course is that improved security is dependent upon improvements in governance and management. That therefore, implies that we need to revisit or rethink the civil military relationship because that lies at the heart of our security. There are always tensions within that civil military relationship but if we can develop an effective partnership between our politicians, our civil service and our military, if they can have an effective working relationship then we are better able to enhance stability and longer-term security,” Prof Cleary said.

She said they were delighted to see so many representatives from across the region and from the wider security context here to join in the conversation about how to improve civil military relations and security.

She said experience from delivering the course in Africa, Central Eastern Europe, South America and other regions of the world and one of the lessons learnt was that “if we are really serious about improving our security, we also need to improve our governance and civil management”.

Prof Cleary said they had also learnt that the security challenges that countries around the world face were common and therefore many of the solutions to those problems were similarly common.

“So, to have so many representatives across the region allows us to develop a shared understanding of those common security challenges and those common solutions to those challenges. We have great opportunity to learn from each other.

“Within the next two weeks you will be addressed by civilian academics as well as serving military personnel and we will be sharing with you our experience of trying to improve defense and security but each of you are also acknowledged experts in your own field and therefore we have a great deal that we can learn from you.

“So, I would encourage you, as we discuss various security issues, aspects of governance, the law and management, to draw on your experience and to share that with us. We are not here to preach one way of governing and managing defence, we are here to share expertise so by all means engage us and that is at the very heart of diplomacy,” Prof Cleary said.

Prof Cleary joined Cranfield University in July 2002 as the Academic Director for Cranfield University’s internationally regarded ‘Managing Defence in the Wider Security Context’ programme, which is a key element of the Defence Engagement Strategy.

Her leadership of this programme and her contribution to the UK’s Defence Diplomacy Mission were acknowledged through the award of the Director General of the Defence Academy’s Commendation in 2006. In 2017 she was shortlisted for Outstanding Contribution in the Women in Defence Awards.

Officially opening the training, LDF Commander, Lieutenant General Mojalefa Letsoela, reminded the course participants that the course was one of the milestones in the country’s endeavour to realise the reforms of Basotho nation at large.

“I am confident that you student-officers will not only gain knowledge from the programme or your interactions with your fellow programme members but you will also enrich the learning programme in the lives of your colleagues in your stay and after. We are also keen that in your stay in Lesotho, no matter how busy you will be, you will be able to appreciate the peaceful and enabling security situation (in the country) first hand.

“As you may be aware of today’s dynamic and rapid change in security environment facing nations, your (British High Commissioner Defence Advisor Col Alan Litser) country’s efforts to bring about professionalism in our countries particularly defence force and security as a whole, go a long way in realising the need to realign a working models for these institutions into a cornerstone of a state sovereignty that will be able to deliver fundamental functions of the governments for the benefits of the citizens.

“Allow me to acknowledge the remarkable job that has been done by the SADC Standby Force in Lesotho (SAMPIL) in its commitment to ensure that SADC decisions in various security issues have been implemented in a threat-free atmosphere. We will therefore remain indebted to this body for its support and assistance in many ways to finding a peaceful solution too many challenges facing our country,” Lt-Gen Letsoela said.

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