African Armed Forces and the Challenges of Security Sector Transformation

By Williams, Dr. Rocky | Strategic Review for Southern Africa, November 2001 | Go to article overview

African Armed Forces and the Challenges of Security Sector Transformation


Williams, Dr. Rocky, Strategic Review for Southern Africa


ABSTRACT

The wave of democratisation that has occurred in many African countries has also had direct and profound implications for the manner in which the security sector in general, and the armed forces in particular, are transformed. Transformation, if correctly pursued, is an ambitious undertaking which impacts upon virtually all aspects of an institution's well-being. To ensure that African armed forces are transformed in such a manner that their professional capabilities are strengthened and their subordination to civil authority is guaranteed, it is necessary to address a wide range of conceptual and strategic issues.

Of critical importance when undertaking a transformation agenda is to ensure that the scope of security sector transformation is manageable and does not set unrealistic objectives. It is equally critical to prioritise those key strategic interventions that need to be considered if such a transformation process is to be successful. Two such interventions are considered within the scope of this article. The first relates to the creation of civil-military relations architecture within African countries that are less Eurocentric than has traditionally been the case and more effective in ensuring a dialogue and partnership between the civil authorities and the command cadre of the armed forces. The second is to re-examine the roles and tasks for which African armed forces should be used to ensure that their activities are more fully supportive of the developmental and governance objectives of emerging African democracies.

1. INTRODUCTION

A major shift within the thinking of bilateral donor organisations, international financial institutions and development agencies is beginning to occur around the issue of what is commonly referred to as "Security Sector Reform" (SSR). This is a significant development which carries with it both opportunities and nascent risks for the donor community. Traditionally donor bodies have tended to treat security sector issues in one of two ways. Firstly, they have tended to see security sector restructuring and assistance as being the preserve of either their foreign ministries or, more appropriately, their respective defence establishments.

Secondly, they have, when considering issues of a security nature, tended to adopt a zero-sum approach to military expenditure. This rather simplistic line of logic (best exemplified in the Structural Adjustment Programme interventions of the World Bank over the past two decades) maintains that a reduction in military expenditure (milex) is both a "good thing" in itself and, once effected, releases valuable resources required for the ongoing development of the country concerned.

The reality is, of course, infinitely more nuanced than implied by such mechanistic equations. There is no necessary correlation between reductions in force levels, their budgets and their respective armouries and the ongoing development of a country. Admittedly such reductions have, on many occasions, been accompanied by an increase in political stability and a redirection of military expenditure towards tangible developmental goals (South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia during their postelection scenarios for instance). Yet there are compelling examples of countries where an ill-considered security sector restructuring programme has actually bedevilled political stability and, in some cases, worsened civil-military relations.

The relation between security sector downsizing on the one hand and the attainment of political stability and development on the other, is at best a contingent relationship conditioned by a host of political, economic, social and institutional factors which are utterly unique to the country concerned. It is only on the basis of a scientific and empathetic reading of these highly diverse contexts that appropriate interventions in the security sector can be made.

This article deals with some of the key issues that need to be explored if security sector programmes (as presently being articulated within the donor community) or various attempts by African governments to democratise their security sectors in general and their armed forces in particular, are to be successful. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

African Armed Forces and the Challenges of Security Sector Transformation
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.