Risk Areas

3.2 Bribery and patronage in recruitment and promotions

Explanation of risk area

Both bribery and patronage in recruitment – be that bribes for being assigned to particular units or bribes to avoid conscription, or promotions reserved for members of one ethnic group – distort a meritocratic process meant to put the best people in particular posts. This means that unqualified personnel might be promoted, while those who would do a better job languish on the sidelines. When access to cash begins to determine who ends up on the frontlines, morale, esprit de corps, and the overall ability of the force to provide security all suffer.

Corruption can also be a means to helping criminal patronage networks co-opt defence and security forces by placing their affiliates in important posts, and to subvert the purpose of the forces, pulling them away from protecting the population and toward fighting for particularistic network interests.

Consequences for the mission

Inability to plan operations effectively as real competences and commitment do not match the picture that is on paper

Low morale in partner forces

Diversion and waste of resources

Low effectiveness of training and education for partner forces


External Link

Avoiding conscription through bribery: Ukraine

In Ukraine, widespread bribery to avoid conscription during the conflict in Donetsk and Luhansk resulted in diversion of resources, inadequate strength of the army, and inequality in how citizens were treated: those who could afford to avoid military service, did, while others found themselves at the front line, often without appropriate life-saving equipment.

View external case study
External Link

Patronage in recruitment and promotions: Mali

In Mali, patronage in recruitment and promotions meant that those linked to the President would be placed in better-trained and better-equipped units; others made it to units which were sent to manage the precarious security situation in the north of the country, frequently without appropriate training or equipment. This discrepancy in allocation of resources, coupled with patronage in unit assignations, resulted in widespread discontent and in the long term, contributed to an armed coup.

View external case study

Indicators & Warnings

Lack of clear criteria for recruitment and promotions

Opaque and unaccountable organisational structures

Discretionary influence of individuals on promotion - no independent promotion boards

High-ranking officers unwilling or unable to do their jobs

Multiple members of the same network - family, tribe, ethnic, social or economic group - in positions of power

The same personnel members on multiple donor-sponsored courses