Cover: Clean, Lean and Able

Clean, Lean and Able

A Strategy for Defense Development

Published Dec 20, 2004

by David C. Gompert, Olga Oliker, Anga R. Timilsina


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Just a decade ago, dramatic developments held out the promise of a secure, free, prosperous, fair, and inclusive world. There was hope that the East would democratize, the South would develop, and both would join the West in a global commonwealth of political and economic freedom. Despite some notable successes, today's reality falls well short of that vision. Since the end of the Cold War, the gap in per capita annual income between rich and poor countries has grown, vast populations in Africa and elsewhere exist in destitution and desperation, and undeveloped regions still suffer under authoritarian rule, economic mismanagement, ethnic feuding, and international disputes. Add to the equation the proliferation of dangerous weapons, the rise of religious fanaticism, and the predation of terrorists, and the result is that these regions are becoming not less but more hazardous to themselves and to the rest of the world. This issue paper examines the ineffective, wasteful, unaccountable, and often kleptocratic character of developing countries' defense institutions, including their militaries. It discusses defense development--also known as defense-sector reform--for countries that should be going through political and economic transition. The authors argue that approaches to defense development to date have lacked strategic commitment, clear institutional responsibility, objective metrics, and leverage. They point out that the security situation in much of the developing world is bad enough to warrant shaping up and cleaning up and this paper is intended to provoke a critical and urgent look at this problem and how it should be tackled.

This research in the public interest was supported by RAND, using discretionary funds made possible by the generosity of RAND's donors, the fees earned on client-funded research, and independent research and development (IR&D) funds provided by the Department of Defense.

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