Human resources management corresponds to the process of managing security sector and defence workforce, from recruiting, training and deployment all the way to release and retirement.The purpose of manpower management is to have in place the right number of people with the right mix of skills, experience, ages and rank levels necessary to sustain the required force structure.[1]

What is Human Resources Management?

The objective of human resources management is to maintain a force structure that is adapted to the context, available resources, security and defence needs of a nation and to do so in the most efficient possible manner. This involves a certain degree of flexibility in a security environment in constant change. The first major task of manpower management, according to Jack Treddenick, is assessing current and future needs, available and future resources, peace and crisis scenarios, in order to arrive at a time-indexed portfolio of manpower requirements across the entire planning horizon, where each item, each place, is carefully defined in terms of required skills, experience, age and rank level. In other words, this process must identify exactly what places are going to have to be filled, with which kind of personnel and when. The second major task involves providing the actual people with the right mix of skills, experience, ages and rank levels to fill the required portfolio.[2] The selection, recruitment and promotion of candidates must be done on the basis of merit and in a fair and competitive way.

Why is it important?

Jack Treddenick, has pointed out that manpower is the essential military resource. Only with high quality and motivated people can budgets and weapon systems be turned into the effective military capabilities that are required to provide for a nation’s security. Managing it, and managing it well -getting the right people into the right jobs at the right time and motivating them to work hard and intelligently- is therefore the essence of military success. Changing security environment and defence needs require adapting force structure accordingly in order to maintain the optimum preparedness and capabilities. This makes the process of human resources management even more critical.[3] Additionally, corruption in manpower management is the most pervasive and corrosive to the defence system as a whole since it undermines the effective use of its most vital resource- personnel.[4] Codes of conduct, regulations and ethical guidelines must be established and taught throughout the entire defence hierarchy. These measures must be complemented by whistleblowing, reporting mechanisms and whistle-blower protection.

How does it work?

Manpower management system must perform two complementary functions. On the one hand, it must determine human resource requirements based on current a future defence needs and plans. On the other, it must manage and develop personnel to maximize available human resources. In this, constant efforts to attract, train, motivate, promote and retain the right people with the right set of skills for the right positions are essential.[5]

Manpower management must be capable of foreseeing and developing the capacity to adjust to different security needs and environments. Each country has different defence needs, different security contexts and different strategic perceptions. Therefore, each will have a unique approach to creating military capability, which will be shaped by its history, culture, level of economic development and geographical neighbourhood. Accordingly, every country will have its own approach to determining the size and composition of its armed forces.[6]

However, there are some factors that will determine force structure that are common to most countries, such as:

  • manpower strategy must be in line with national military strategy and security objectives;
  • the role of the armed forces will be determined by national security strategy, current security context and international ambitions;
  • security and defence budgets and budget regulations will define the scale and form of the armed forces;
  • desired capabilities and ways of obtaining them will also impact manpower management

The objective of manpower managers and planners is to come up with the optimal force configuration within a given budget line.[7] In order to be successful, manpower management must be completely integrated into an effective defence planning and budgeting system which rationally links resources to military strategy. [8]


Who is involved?

Human Resources managers and planners include among other actors: Ministry of Defence, Finance and other ministries concerned with planning and budgeting; civil and military personnel charged with selecting, recruiting, training and allocating personnel. Additionally, it is important that human resources management is transparent and accountable. Therefore parliamentary oversight is of great importance and so is whistleblowing and reporting practiced by civilian and military personnel, inspectors, ombudsmen, auditors, and civil society.


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Centre for Integrity in the Defence Sector (2015) Guides to Good Governance.

DCAF (2015) International Standards of Financial Oversight in the Security Sector. International standards. 7.2 Toolkit- Legislating for the Security Sector.

DCAF –UNDP (2008), Public Oversight of the Security Sector. A Handbook for Civil Society Organisations.

DCAF (2006) Military Ombudsmen. Backgrounder

DCAF (2009) Security Sector Governance and Reform.  Backgrounder.   

DCAF (2008), National Security Policy Backgrounder.    

DCAF (2006) Parliament’s role in Defence Procurement. Backgrounder.    

DCAF (2006) Parliament’s role in Defence Budgeting. Backgrounder.    

Hari Bucur-Marcu, Philipp Fluri, Todor Tagarev (eds.) Defence Management: An Introduction. Security and Defence Management Series No. 1., DCAF (2009)

McConville Teri, Holmes Richard (eds.), Defence Management in Uncertain Times, Cranfield Defence Management Series, Number 3. Routledge 2011.

NATO-DCAF, (2010). Building Integrity and Reducing Corruption in Defence: A Compendium of Best Practices.

Nicolas Masson, Lena Andersson, Mohammed Slah Aldin, DCAF (2013) Strengthening Financial Oversight in the Security Sector. Guidebook 7.1, Toolkit: Legislating for the Security Sector.

OECD (2002) Best Practices for Budget Transparency

OSCE, Code of Conduct on Politico-Military Aspects of Security, December 1994.

The World Bank (1988), Public Expenditure Management Handbook.

Transparency International (2011). Building Integrity and Countering Corruption In Defence and Security: 20 Practical Reforms.

United Nations SSR task force, Security Sector Reform Integrated Technical Guidance Notes. 2012.

New editions of the DCAF SSR Backgrounder Series

[1] Source: Hari Bucur-Marcu, Philipp Fluri, Todor Tagarev (2009), ‘Manpower management’ in Defence Management: An Introduction.

[2] Jack Treddenick, ‘Manpower management’ in Hari Bucur-Marcu, Philipp Fluri, Todor Tagarev, DCAF (2009), Defence Management: An Introduction. p. 128.

[3] Jack Treddenick, ‘Manpower management’ p. 125-127.

[4] NATO-DCAF, (2010). Building Integrity and Reducing Corruption in Defence: A Compendium of Best Practices. Chapter 5, p. 43.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Jack Treddenick, ‘Manpower management’ p. 131.

[7] Ibid., p. 131-133.

[8] Ibid., p. 152.

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