Vision 2030 peace and security sector strategy:
By Lt Gen (rtd) Denga Ndaitwah
In my last article, I discussed about Vision 2030 with specific reference to the foreword by the Founding President which I concluded by bringing out some salient findings even though inconclusive.
In this article, I perused through the Vision with the aim to understand the general strategic approach with specific reference to the peace and security sector. I also exercised my mind to establish whether elements of strategy scanning, formulation, implementation and evaluation were applied to ensure strategic efficiency.
Drucker once said, “Strategy is not a box of tricks or a bundle of techniques…it is an analytical thinking and commitment of resources to action...unless strategy is performed seriously and systematically…unless strategists are willing to act on result, energy will be used defending yesterday…”
As a point of departure, let us now closely and critically look at peace and security as outlined in Vision 2030. Among others, the Ministry of Defence (MOD) is to, “Formulate and implement coherent modernisation plan… procurement plan for the modern military hardware…maintain a credible defence posture that is qualitatively on par with the best defence force in the region”.
Based on the above, the MOD was to formulate a military strategy, implement coherent modernisation plan, ensure procurement plan for the modernising military hardware and maintain a credible defence posture that is qualitatively on par with the best defence force in the region.
The conundrum was not to formulate peace and security strategy. The challenge is how to ensure the availability of human and dedicated financial resources as enabling instruments to implement a coherent modernisation, procurement plan, for the modernising military hardware in order to maintain a credible defence posture that is qualitatively on par with the best defence force in the region.
The underlining factor is, the defence posture of this country must be quantitatively on par with the best defence force in the region. That simply means, at the fall of 30 years, the Namibian Defence Force (NDF) must be qualitatively on par with whatever best defence force found in the region. Pause and prove me wrong. This statement is too ambitious, unrealistic as that goal will not be achieved.
The fundamental question is, is it only the peace and security sector that is flawed in this national grand strategy? If all other sectors are flawed in the same manner, shall this Vision achieve its overall national goals? We must be mindful that a strategy which is not well-balanced with all core elements will be just as good as a bunch of ideas that have no value to achieve.
The most decisive element to achieve is a set strategic of goals that include human capital employment complemented by dedicated financial resources. The principles of realistically balancing human capital and financial resources are therefore very critical and indispensable.
Strategy must not be a wishful thinking and limitless imaginations. It must be embedded with elements of realism, measurable, flexibility, achievability where ends, ways and means confluence. The first requirement of success is to establish and maintain equilibrium between what is wanted and what resources are available to achieve a goal.
Ends are the purpose and the objectives of the organisation. Ways are the methods and options to achieve those objectives. Means are the resources available to achieve and sustain a goal. If the ends, ways and means are not well-balanced, the realisation of the objectives will be skewed.
The word strategy is from an ancient Greek word, strategos, which literally means “the leader of the army”. Strategy in this sense was the art of generalship, of commanding the entire war effort, deciding what forces to deploy, what terrain to fight on, and what manoeuvres to use to gain an edge.
From its origin, strategy was exclusive for generals when engaging into do or die situations where the lives of others were at risk. Because of the importance of strategic principles, all other sectors nowadays have recognised and adopted the application of strategy, hence strategy is widely used in all spheres of life.
One cannot talk of strategy without talking of environmental scanning, strategic formulation, implementation and evaluation. A strategy has solid principles and ingredients on how to deal with the inevitable situations, how to craft the ultimate plan, how best to organise the resources for the realisation of a set strategic goal.
Strategy has different layers with the highest level known as grand strategy. It is grand strategy that gives birth to sectoral and sub-sectoral strategies which may include but not limited to political, economic, diplomatic, military strategies.
Grand strategy is a means to an end and not an end in itself. Grand strategy is the art and science of identifying national goals and optimally utilising limited national resources to achieve set national goals. In the process of implementing a grand strategy, there is need to formulate a National Security Strategy which is yet another art and science that must be designed to coordinate the activities for the utilisation of scarce resources.
Grand strategy is the blueprint of any organisation where ways, ends and means, end state, milestones and culminating points are clearly articulated. It is at this stage where the art and science of an organisation will be combined and blended into a single strategy to be able to achieve set national goals and objectives.
Because of ever changing security, political, economic, technological and global interdependent circumstances, strategy of the 21st century is more complicated than ever before. Under these complex circumstances, there are records of some leaders who have failures while in their comfort zones. Failure in a comfort zone demands a paradigm shift if set goals and objectives are to be realised.
Regardless of circumstances of the 21st century, failures by those in comfort zones must not be accepted. The best example is to emulate where generals have succeeded under strenuous conditions when conducting large scale of wars, covering vast distances while battles are taking place simultaneously on land, sea and in the air.
The development of a comprehensive and viable grand strategy must be tailored in such a way to be able to deal with vital but critical national goals. But its application demands those who are well-skilled and knowledgeable in the field of grand and sectoral strategies.
Strategic thinking is however, the most difficult thing to understand, conceptualise, formulate and implement. That is so because, there is nothing like a set strategy ready for use. Strategic thinking is a dynamic imagination of scholars who are well-versed in the strategic field of study.
Strategy is an art that requires not only a different way of thinking but an entirely different approach. Too often, there is a chasm between our ideas and knowledge. There are times when we absorb trivia and information that takes up our mental space and we often get involved in too many things that have no relevance to our strategic goals.
We sometimes have wonderful ideas that we do not put into practice. We also have many rich experiences that we do not analyse thoroughly for best use. In most cases, we ignore lessons that we have learnt. Events in life will mean nothing if you do not reflect on them deep enough, and ideas are pointless if they have no application to the life you live. What you know must translate into action, and action must translate into knowledge.
* Lt Gen (Rtd) Denga Ndaitwah is a former Chief of the Defence Force, a holder of Master’s Degree in Strategic Studies, HOD and senior lecturer at IUM. Views expressed here are that of an author. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org