Constituent Mitigations

8.2 Host nation training, partnering and mentoring

Design training courses and embed advisers, ensuring that these can form a part of long-term engagement. For best effectiveness, outcomes of training need to be tied to recipients’ career progression, and need to help further institutional development.

Consider long-term mentoring to improve partner forces conduct and capacity.

Where corruption and related issues, such as human rights abuses, constitute a significant problem in host nation defence and security forces, training and embedding of advisers are frequently elements of anti-corruption efforts. Where training is part of long-term, sustainable engagement, it can contribute to shaping standards of behaviour. Partnering and mentoring can be implemented at all levels, from the tactical to senior military officers or government officials, who could benefit from access to international mentors.

Partnering and host nation forces operating alongside international forces can enhance professionalism and encourage integrity. Additionally, such oversight provides plausible deniability to host nation officers: they can point to being supervised as a reason to, for example, not accept bribes. In vertically integrated corruption systems, this could help them avoid the consequences of not providing money – for example, to pay the price of holding on to their jobs – to their chains of command.

Where criminal or factional networks have significant influence on host nation defence and security forces, training and mentoring needs to avoid giving an edge to one group over another, and should come with conditions related to changes in leadership, recruitment and promotion policies. For example, training could be sequenced to avoid giving any one group preponderance over others, and partnering and international oversight could be focused on preventing abuses that can follow factional divisions.

Especially in environments where top leadership is part of corrupt networks, training and mentoring would benefit from addressing the second and third tier of potential leaders waiting in the wings. Not only can they push for limited reform from lower level positions, but they may also form a future generation of leaders willing to engage in change. Focusing on this level and imbuing concepts of anti-corruption and integrity can pay dividends in the long run.

Costs and benefits:

Training, which is relatively low-cost and easy to deliver, tends to be a key element of anti-corruption programming and international interventions. It can indeed help raise awareness of corruption issues, and can spread alternative models of behaviour and anti-corruption rationales. However, designing training that is adapted to host nation language(s), norms, practices and educational levels can be challenging, as is monitoring its impact; metrics such as the number of participants rarely reflect its utility or long-term application by trainees. Training is also unlikely to have a major impact if it doesn’t have relevance to recipients’ careers or does not offer sustained engagement with the institutions.

Case Study Snippet

Corruption and Plan Colombia: The Missing Link

Plan Colombia training programmes, for example, had a broader impact as a mechanism for promoting the careers of the officers who were considered ‘clean’ and who had been thoroughly vetted. As these officers rose through the ranks, they raised standards. This suggests that the key challenge is in turning isolated, tactical-level courses into an integrated element of longer engagement, and to stress institutional development rather than short-term wins.

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Case Study: Corruption and UN peace operations

UN Police Advisors in Liberia

In Liberia, UN Police Advisors served as mentors to Liberian National Police (LNP) Headquarters and were co-located with individual police stations around Monrovia. They conducted joint training and patrols with the LNP, provided security in prisons, and conducted community engagement programmes. Human Rights Watch reported that these programmes improved the professionalism and integrity of the LNP, noting more professional arrests and a decrease in torture and ill treatment in detention.

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Case Study: Corruption and Plan Colombia: The Missing Link

Training and Plan Colombia

During Plan Colombia, Colombia became one of the largest recipients of US training, with more than 100,000 trainees between 2000 and 2017. Most attended courses in procurement and personnel issues at US institutions. A former Defense Department official and lecturer at the National Defense University described these courses as ‘low cost, but high impact’, arguing that ‘they could really have an impact on the way military institutions do their accounts and mitigate corruption.’

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Key Personnel

  • J7
  • J2
  • J5
  • J9
  • Command Group