Jan 8, 2016 | Article

A one-week Defence Resource Management Course was developed for the Ukraine National Defence University in Kiev. This important new training resource, funded by the Directorate of Military Training and Cooperation within the Department of National Defence (Canada) was first taught in February 2015 by an experienced team of senior Canadian military officers, and it was delivered again in November. This short blog post aims to highlight the objectives, structure and content of this important new security governance and security sector reform resource.

Objectives and Overview

The Defence Resource Management Course is designed to teach the core economic and management concepts utilised in Western national defence headquarters.  Employing a building block approach, the course illustrates the integrated and corporate nature of defence management at the strategic level. This course is organized around four inter-related themes that complement each other over the course of five days. The themes are as follows:

The Defence Resource Management Course in Practice (Ukraine)

In Ukraine, The National Defence University selected 72 students, a large number of which were Faculty members, to participate in the November course.  The University Commandant specifically directed that the Defence Resource Management Course content be subsequently integrated by the Faculty members directly into the course content within the university, through changes in existing curriculum.  Although the Defence Resource Management Course taught the fundamental defence management concepts long taken for granted in Western nations, it is clear that the Ukraine military was looking at our processes and practices as a mechanism to modernise and reform their current national approach to defence management.  Consequently, the majority of the students on the course were Faculty members from organisations that were tasked to amend curriculum.

The direction to Faculty members from the Commandant was clear from the questions asked during the course, and in discussions with senior Faculty members between lectures.  In a number of lectures, the senior ranking student (Brigadier General) asked a number of questions in the question and answer periods to ensure that the main concepts and ideas in the presentations were understood by the other students.  Indeed, at the closing reception on Friday evening the Commandant spoke to all course students and was very emphatic that he expected that the defence management concepts taught in the course be implemented into the university curriculum. From that perspective, the Defence Resource Management Course was timely.  The university leadership had the time to review and digest content from the initial course in February and used the November Defence Resource Management Course as a catalyst to begin implementation of Western defence management concepts at National Defence University through curriculum reform.

The Canadian team composition was ideally suited to deliver the course.  Senior officers from National Defence Headquarters in Ottawa and employed in the Chief of Program and Chief of Force Development organisations, as well as the Royal Canadian Air Force, with broad experience including the Army, Material Group, and Assistant Deputy Minister (Finance), provided the range of experience and expertise necessary to fully answer multiple questions throughout the course which ranged from conceptual to specific.  Having military experts in their field deliver the course content and engage in extended informed discussions during the course was a key contributor to success.

The strategic effect that Senior Canadian Military Officers have delivered in Kiev from two one-week courses on defence management has been substantial.  These courses acted as a catalyst that shaped the decision making of a university searching for an approach to reform defence management practices and processes in Ukraine.  The support by the Department of National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces to the Ukraine Ministry of Defence and General Staff is an example of the military training provided by Canada to support capacity building in other nations.  Future discussions with the Ukraine Ministry of Defence may be held to seize the initiative and leverage the work done to date to support Ukraine Ministry of Defence and General Staff to implement reform of defence management.

Moving forward: Lessons learned and course development in 2016

An essential learning component of the course is the half hour question and exchange period after each presentation.  This allows the students to ask questions and the instructor to facilitate a discussion or to emphasize key points on the subject under discussion.

Coordination with the host country prior to the course is essential to tailoring the course content to maximize the learning experience for students.  For example, in the case of Ukraine, procurement reform was a priority and this became the focus of the last two days of the course.

Planning is in progress to teach the Defence Resource Management Course in 2016 in Africa, the Balkans, Central America and Asia, with the objective of building capacity in defence management in other countries.  This training illustrates how Canada can leverage the expertise and experience of select senior officers to deliver practical information to military officers in other countries in support of their efforts to reform their management processes and procedures.

Author

Dr. Ross Fetterly is a Senior Fellow at the Centre for Security Governance. He has 32 years of service with the Canadian Armed Forces and is currently the Royal Canadian Air Force Comptroller and Business Planner. A scholar practitioner, he has a Ph.D (War Studies) from the Royal Military College of Canada focused on defence economics, policy and cost analysis.

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