Civilians Get a Foot in the Door: Reforming Brazil’s Defense Ministry, 2007–2010

Tristan Dreisbach
Country of Reform

In 2007, the political moment was right for President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva to build Brazil’s Ministry of Defense into an institution that would give civilians a significant role in defense policy—more than two decades after the end of military rule. The ministry had existed since 1999 but had failed to provide effective civilian leadership in setting defense policy and overseeing defense institutions. The president, known to Brazilians as Lula, set the stage for the reform by way of a strategy document that called for institutional changes in both the ministry and the armed forces. Then he appointed a well-known and respected minister, Nelson Jobim, to implement the new policies. Jobim worked with a military adviser to unify control of the armed forces, promote greater cooperation and closer coordination among the three service branches, and press civilians and military officers to work together in creating defense policy. By the end of Lula’s presidency in 2011, key tasks remained, but the joint staff held key strategic planning functions, the three branches were cooperating on important matters, and military officers, civilians in government, and outside experts were collaborating in the formulation of defense policy.

Tristan Dreisbach drafted this case study based on interviews conducted in Brasilia and Rio de Janeiro in May and June 2016. Case published August 2016.

Civilians at the Helm: Chile Transforms its Ministry of National Defense, 2010–2014

Tristan Dreisbach
Focus Area(s)
Country of Reform

In 2010, 20 years after the end of Augusto Pinochet’s military regime, Chile transformed its defense sector by restructuring the Ministry of National Defense, stripping military leaders of responsibility for planning and strategy and placing that authority in the hands of civilians. The event marked a sea change in the relationship between the armed forces and the government. Civilians at the ministry previously had provided the military with scant guidance regarding the country’s strategic goals—in part because they lacked the training and experience required to anticipate threats to the country or to determine what capabilities the armed forces required to confront such threats. The enabling law, enacted after years of debate, also gave new powers to a chief of Joint Staff, an officer whose job was to promote cooperation among the army, navy, and air force—three military branches that jealously protected their independence and were wary of any attempt to diminish the authority of their powerful commanders in chief. Sebastián Piñera, who became president in March 2010 just as the law took effect, faced the task of implementing the massive shift in expectations, norms, culture, and the chain of command. His administration restructured the ministry and hired civilians to manage tasks long controlled by military officers, and by the end of his term in 2014, the Ministry of National Defense had taken the lead in developing Chile’s defense policies.

Tristan Dreisbach drafted this case based on interviews conducted in Santiago, Chile during July and August 2015. Case published November 2015.

Batu Kutelia

Ref Batch
Focus Area(s)
Ref Batch Number
Country of Reform
Matthew Devlin
Batu Kutelia
Interviewee's Position
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the United States of America, Canada and Mexico
Interviewee's Organization
Republic of Georgia
Nationality of Interviewee
Place (Building/Street)
Embassy of the Republic of Georgia
Washington, D.C.
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
Batu Kutelia explains how Georgia modernized its post-Soviet law enforcement system after the Rose Revolution, which prior to 2004, he describes as highly politicized and corrupt. One of the central reforms Kutelia describes is personnel management, including changes to recruitment, training and oversight of police and defense personnel to reduce corruption. He also describes the necessity to depoliticize and demilitarize the law enforcement system. He explains how the two different national security institutions merged to reduce redundancy and how centralized decision-making processes shifted to improve transparency. While Kutelia recognizes that decentralization was a key element of Georigia’s security reform, he adds that political will and public support have been essential to sustain change in the country.


Since January 2011, Mr. Kutelia was the deputy secretary of the National Security Council of Georgia.  From 2008 until 2011 he was the ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary to the United States of America, Canada and Mexico. In his previous capacities he has been first deputy minister of defense (2007-2008), deputy minister of defense and foreign affairs (2006-2007) and deputy minister of state security (2004). From 2005-2006 he functioned as the head of Foreign Intelligence Special Service of Georgia. Before this he was head of the Foreign Intelligence Department of the Ministry of State Security of Georgia and director of the Political Security Department of the National Security Council in 2004. Before turning into his diplomatic and political career Mr. Kutelia studied physics and holds a PhD in physics. He also holds a master's degree in public affairs administration. Mr. Kutelia is fluent in English, French, Russian and Georgian.



Full Audio File Size
51 MB
Full Audio Title
Batu Kutelia Interview