Promoting and Strengthening Hemispheric Confidence and Security.

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Defense White Papers

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Because it is important?

Defense White Papers offer valuable insight into national defense policies and doctrines. The countries of the Americas have identified the preparation and exchange of Defense White Papers as a useful confidence- and security-building mechanism for promoting security in the hemisphere. Some of its benefits are the following:

Transparency and Trust: The preparation of a Defense White Paper involves collaboration between civilians and the military. This transparent process sends a clear message of the commitment of States to safeguard the values and interests of citizens. In addition, it fosters trust and transparency in a traditionally “closed” field.

Strategic Objectives: White Papers help achieve the strategic objectives of the State. Its content can display measurable performance criteria, allowing for clear evaluation of defense policies and doctrines.

Reference for Regional Cooperation: White papers provide crucial information to address threats and challenges. Through the analysis of these documents, countries can identify areas of regional cooperation in security and defense.

In summary, defense white papers are essential tools for understanding and strengthening a country's security and defense policies.

What do we do?

The Inter-American Defense Board (IADB), in fulfilling its purpose of providing the OAS and its Member States with technical, consultative and educational advisory services on issues related to military and defense matters in the Hemisphere, has a specific task related to the preparation of national defense doctrine and policy studies (White Papers).

The countries of the Americas have identified the preparation and exchange of Defense White Papers as a useful confidence- and security-building mechanism for promoting security in the Hemisphere.

It is important to note that in the Americas there is no standard format established by common agreement for White Papers, which is perhaps a logical consequence of the diverse historical, geographic, cultural, political and fiscal contexts in which the countries of the Americas define the dangers to its security and its defense objectives, capabilities and restrictions.

A Defense White Paper is a key policy document setting out the Government's defense concept. This is a public document that presents the broad strategic policy framework for defense planning, with a medium-term perspective. It is not expected to be reworked every one or two years, but rather to provide sufficient perspective for multi-year budgeting and planning. Its design must be flexible enough to accommodate small changes in the security environment. A new White Paper is normally prepared when there are significant changes in the strategic environment or public priorities change substantially.

Defense White Papers are produced after extensive consultation within and outside Government. These documents are intended to reflect a broad-based consensus regarding the role that the defense forces should play in the country, in the context of national priorities and the legal framework and resources of the country.

How do we do it?

Defense White Papers are a fundamental expression of national policy. The final product is a statement of public policy, and not simply the policy of the Ministry of Defense or the Armed Forces. The policy expressed in the White Paper must be consistent with the purposes, priorities and objectives of the Government, including foreign policy. Obviously the White Paper must also respect the Constitution and the country's legal framework.

Budgetary issues represent an essential part of the domestic policy debate. The White Paper must address resource issues, as the availability of funding for capital, operational and personnel expenditure will determine whether defense forces are able to meet their stated objectives.

With respect to the international policy context, a White Paper confirms the country's bilateral, regional and multilateral obligations and commitments. Here too, these functions have resource implications that must be taken into account in the budget planning process.

The above defines a Country Project based on the conditions, resources and capacities already installed and recognized from where they are projected, incorporating exogenous and endogenous variables, the most probable scenarios and the identification of the prioritized factors according to the result obtained from the systematized perspectives. coming from the participation of all the actors considered.

To do this, a minimum organizational platform is required that considers:

  • An interlocutor with the support of the presidential authority that allows inter-ministerial coordination in the country, also considering the capacity to convene the different political, social and economic actors. This will be the executive counterpart of the IADB.

The formation of a working group to act as the operational counterpart of the IADB team. Ideally, this national group would be made up of representatives who have direct influence networks in the main ministries to ensure effective coordination throughout the process.

  • The consideration of a methodological advisory team from the IADB, whose mission is to design, apply and systematize the work to be carried out throughout the process.

The preparation stages can be summarized as follows:

  1. Planning and identification of objectives. Formation of work teams. Definition of budgets, logistics and work schedule.
  2. Constitution of the committees and start of the information systematization work through a start-up workshop. Development of a methodological induction workshop for the national team. Programming of thematic workshops and definition of the actors to invite.
  3. Workshop Development.
  4. Draft writing and document verification and acceptance process.
  5. Final writing of the text.

Who do we do it with?

The preparation of a White Paper represents a process of consultations guided by the Government at the highest levels. The Government – the elected political executive – is the authority with supreme competence for establishing guidelines regarding national policy. It is therefore the Government that provides the political guidance to the preparation of the White Paper and sifts the interests, demands and pressures of all interested parties in order to adopt decisions on their relative priority in the context of the Government's broader purposes. .

The opinions of the general public, non-governmental organizations, private companies, academic entities, think tanks and international partners are also important for the purposes of the process, and the Government and the Ministry of Defense can take the initiative to involve these groups in different stages of preparation of the White Paper.

The Minister of Defense It plays a cardinal role in the development of the conception and defense agenda.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs It is continually consulted throughout the process of preparing the White Paper, since the defense policy must be compatible with the country's foreign policy objectives, and serve as support for them.

It is essential to consult with the central agencies responsible for national budgeting and expenditure (e.g. Privy Council Office or Ministry of the Presidency, Ministry of Finance, Treasury, etc.) to define resource constraints in the context of which national defense must be carried out.

In general, members of Parliament or Congress play an important role in the preparation of White Papers.


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