When deploying to fragile and conflict-affected states, mission leaders can be tempted to see corruption as a problem chiefly affecting the host nation environment. However, what mission planners should not overlook is that intervening forces are not immune from corruption, whether in employment or sustainment and logistics. For example, one 2015 tally of court records found that at least 115 US military personnel and were convicted of theft, bribery and contract-rigging valued at more than $50 million during their deployments in Afghanistan and Iraq.
This pathway can be seen at tactical, operational and strategic levels. Low-level schemes involving diversion of fuel or other resources are at one end of the spectrum; at the other, mission leadership can be involved in large-scale trading in employment or accept kickback for significant contracts.
Impact of mission activities
Corruption within the mission not only wastes resources; it poses security, operational, and reputational risks. It depletes trust and makes cooperation with host nation stakeholders much more difficult. It also leads to missing an opportunity to model an alternative behaviour prioritising integrity.
Consequences for the mission
Waste of resources through theft and diversion
Inappropriate staffing for the mission
Redirection of mission energy away from its goals and toward criminal activities
Reputational harm to the mission
Endangering civil-military relations
Risk Areas within Risk Pathway 1. Corruption in mission forces
These risk areas provide further information on specific corruption risks within mission forces, including specific guidance how to identify these risks and what measures can be implemented to mitigate them.
Overseas postings and deployments often result in additional remuneration and more attractive professional development opportunities, making mission employment at key risk area for corruption in military operations.
The World Bank estimates that public contract awards of about $1.5 trillion are influenced by corruption. Risks affecting procurement are magnified in operational environments due to tight timelines, high levels of outsourcing and fewer checks and balances.
Mitigations within Risk Pathway 1. Corruption in mission forces
Corruption in mission forces can have a serious consequences for operational effectiveness and mission reputation. Below are risk mitigation strategies you can undertaken to guard against and respond to corruption within mission forces.
These are some of the measures that can be applied by national defence institutions in preparing their troops for deployment. Many – from the codification of standards, training, and an internal investigative structure – can also be used by international organisations to prepare national contingents for deployment, and to set requirements for troop contributing countries.
Cooperation with civil society could help increase the likelihood of whistleblower reports of wrongdoing among mission personnel, and could help provide an additional layer of oversight, where possible, in mission sustainment and reconstruction contracts.