The recent democratic changes in Myanmar have ushered its reevaluation of its comprehensive security needs in terms of national, transnational, and human security. In the run up to the 2015 election, Myanmar’s security sector is transforming to meet the new security and political priorities of the nation. The Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies (APCSS), in cooperation with the National Defence College of Myanmar, hosted a workshop entitled “Comprehensive Security Sector Development in Myanmar” August 18-22, 2014, in Naypyitaw, Myanmar.
This workshop provided an opportunity for the over 30 participants from Myanmar to expand their understanding of the concepts and best practices of security sector development and modern civil-military relations by examining a variety of experiences from other countries around the region and the world. Facilitated discussions gave participants an opportunity to share their experiences and recommend specific measures that may be taken to enhance security and governance in Myanmar and in the region.
By the end of the workshop, the participants were able to identify relevant principles, best practices, and lessons learned from the case studies and to apply them to the current transitional environment in Myanmar. They identified key areas of success and remaining gaps within the existing system. Most importantly, they took ownership of the process of security sector development and enhanced civil-military relations by demonstrating a commitment to expanding and implementing these principles and practices long after the workshop. To this end, the workshop concluded with briefings by participants of their shared findings and recommended next steps for Myanmar.
Dr. Miemie Byrd, APCSS academic lead, stated that “This workshop outcome exceeded my wildest dreams and expectations. I felt that we were able to put some of the security sector and civil-military relations concepts in terms they could relate to and, as such, they seemed to have internalized them based on their quality recommendations and next steps at the end of the workshop.”
Looking to the future, APCSS Director Lt. Gen. (Ret) Dan Leaf, said “This workshop was carefully designed and executed to enhance Myanmar’s commitment to a rule-of-law based security sector, characterized by legitimacy and accountability. The participants were very well-prepared, eager, and earnest – I look forward to seeing the progress enabled by this important engagement.”
The Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies is a Department of Defense institute that addresses regional and global security issues. Military and civilian representatives, most from the U.S. and Asia-Pacific nations, participate in a comprehensive program of executive education, professional exchanges and outreach events, both in Hawaii and throughout the Asia-Pacific region. The Center supports the U.S. Pacific Command by developing and sustaining relationships among security practitioners and national security establishments throughout the region. Its mission is to build capacities and communities of interest by educating, connecting, and empowering security practitioners to advance Asia-Pacific security. It is one of the Department of Defense’s five regional security studies centers.
Since opening in 1995, the Center has had more than 8,900 alumni from over 122 countries and territories attend APCSS courses and workshops.