By Kenneth Stewart
MONTEREY, Calif. (NNS) -- The Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) helped welcome an international contingent of diplomats and senior government officials from nations across the globe for the "Building Integrity" conference in NPS' hometown of Monterey, Calif., Feb. 25-28.
As the U.S. Partnership for Peace Training and Education Center (USPTC), NPS and its Defense Resources Management Institute, are playing a pivotal role in partnering with NATO on the Building Integrity (BI) program.
Opening the conference was NPS Interim President Rear Adm. Jan E. Tighe, welcoming the 180 representatives from 35 NATO member and allied nations.
"The guiding principles of the Building Integrity initiative are critical to developing worldwide global security, and I am very proud to have our own institution partnering with you in standing up to these challenges," she said. "Throughout our institution, some of the brightest minds in their respective fields dedicate their professional careers to teaching military officers about these very values."
NATO Supreme Allied Commander Transformation Gen. Jean-Paul Paloméros served as the opening keynote speaker, encouraging conference attendees to take advantage of the critical opportunity the BI conference provides.
"Being here in Monterey, the language capital of the world, is of particular relevance as we gather to communicate, to work together, to tackle corruption and build integrity," said Paloméros.
He spoke at length about the initiative's role in encouraging sound institutions, particularly in places like Afghanistan where NATO representatives have been working for more than a decade to encourage good governance in both civilian and military sectors.
Paloméros stressed NATO's contributions to anti-corruption measures historically, and specifically pointed out efforts to combat corruption in the Afghan Security Forces (ASF). This year's conference will have an entire program tailored to reducing the risk of corruption in the ASF.
"Corruption is born of desperation," said Paloméros.
He acknowledged the Afghan representative to the conference, and both NATO's enduring commitment to the nation and Aits dedication to rooting out corruption as it transitions toward democracy after 30 years of conflict.
"One cannot imagine an anti-corruption campaign without security ... The primary contribution of NATO must be to fulfill its mission of providing security," said Paloméros. "The absence of security implies corruption."
The Building Integrity program was initiated to increase transparency, improve accountability and enhance integrity in the defense and security communities. This year's conference seeks to explore the strategic impact of corruption and identify practical tools to assist participants in managing scarce resources while promoting best practices.
The focus of the effort is perfectly tailored to the intellectual capital in NPS' Defense Resources Management Institute, or DRMI. Dr. Francois Melese, DRMI Director, has been instrumental in bringing the conference to the Monterey Peninsula, and notes the institute is well positioned to impact the program.
"This is the U.S. contribution to NATO's Building Integrity program," said Melese. "[DRMI] encourages transparency, fiscal management and decision making ... The idea is to increase transparency through financial management and fiscal tools. If you invest in increasing transparency, you increase detection which increases the probability of deterrence."
In Tighe's opening remarks, she acknowledged DRMI's role in the BI program, and reflected upon the prestigious institute's contributions over the years.
"Our own Defense Resources Management Institute was created with the mission of developing efficient and effective resource management practices in defense organizations," she noted. "After nearly 50 years, the institute has touched every corner of the globe, providing sound robust techniques built upon traditional management theory and economic reasoning that are the modern day building blocks of complex decision theory."
Conference organizers insist that investments made in transparency, integrity building and accountability can lead to greater public confidence in military institutions and reduced corruption, and was re-emphasized by one of the opening day's additional keynote speakers.
"The Building Integrity program is part of NATO's commitment to strengthening good governance in the defense and security sectors," said Ambassador Dirk Brengelmann, NATO Assistant Secretary for General Political Affairs and Security Policy. "Making effective use of resources in the defense and security sector is a challenge faced by all nations ... This ongoing program promotes good practices and provides nations with systems to make defense and security institutions smarter."
Conference attendees drew upon lessons learned by NATO service members on the ground in Afghanistan and southeastern Europe, as well as the contributions of academics from a wide-ranging interdisciplinary field of researchers.
"The building integrity conferences have a direct record of bringing ideas to the appropriate bodies and turning recommendations into practice," said Brengelmann.
This is the second Building Integrity Conference to be hosted in Monterey. The conference is conducted biannually and is open to military and civilian officials from NATO nations, allies and partners including Partnership for Peace, Mediterranean Dialogue and the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative.
The lessons learned from the conference will be published in a compendium of best practices titled, "Building Integrity and Reducing Corruption in Defense," which will be published to the official NATO website.