Defense Institution Building ... by Design

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Published on 12/1/2019
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In this occasional paper, Dr. Richard Newton presents the case that sustainable, strategic effects through Defense Institution Building (DIB) can be achieved through paradigmatic change among key military stakeholders and a willingness to engage in systemic reform. While Security Force Assistance (SFA), Foreign Internal Defense (FID), and Joint/Combined Exchange Training (JCETs) have long been staples of Special Operations Forces engagement, they are often unable to achieve DIB objectives because they are not intended to achieve paradigm shifts and the consequent organizational transformation necessary to organically sustain the new capabilities. Overtly recognizing this discrepancy is essential for improving DIB practices and augmenting allied and partner nations’ contributions to collective defense. This paper recommends taking a design thinking approach for designing, developing, and implementing a sustainable DIB partnership with a willing nation. The author concludes with a case study of how a design-thinking approach facilitated the transformation of Romania’s SOF—a priority DIB effort for Special Operations Command Europe (SOCEUR).