The armed forces lack a cadre of knowledgeable civilian defense professionals to support the defense sector, and the military rarely relies on civilians to perform important functions. The armed forces have demonstrated a commitment to gender mainstreaming, but this commitment is not formalized in military regulations. Civilian capabilities to manage data collection and analysis in an information intensive era exist in the military, but this capability is not institutionalized.
Lebanon lacks a professional civil service for the defense sector, and civilians lack the interest, capacity, and knowledge to play constructive supervisory roles. The armed forces lack confidence in the capabilities and intentions of civilian decisionmakers, and as a result the military limits itself to following broad strategic guidelines from senior political leaders, but neither accepts nor is offered guidance from other officials.
Civilians in official positions themselves lack the knowledge to debate and decide on defence affairs; sectarian and clientelist politics undermine the incentive for civilians to acquire this knowledge and incentivize the military to remain apolitical by insulating itself from politicized civilian advice. That said, the military tends to rely on civilian expertise in defense affairs when it is provided for free, whether because companies provide advice to acquire military contracts or because this advice is tied to foreign military assistance. However, the extent to which the armed forces reflect this expertise in defense policy or planning is unclear.
The absence of a clear mechanism for establishing national defense objectives and the lack of a competent cadre of civilian defense professionals leaves a gap in the development of operational capabilities and strategic analysis. At the same time, the military is more open to employing civilians with professional competence in less critical domains such as civil-military cooperation, public diplomacy, and information operations than in more sensitive domains like strategic planning and finances. As a result, the defence ministry is staffed almost exclusively with military personnel.
Efforts to recruit and develop civilian defense professionals in relevant fields are ad hoc and poorly funded. Due to its constrained financial situation, the defense sector is open to foreign military assistance, and particularly to partner and donor supported civilians playing a critical and integral role in planning, procurement, and reform tied to human capital development.
Women first joined the armed forces in 1989, and today there are eight female brigadier generals, fifty-six female officers, and some 4,000 women in uniform, though they are excluded from combat units and direct combat support. Women serve in administrative and medical roles, but also in fixed and rotary wing aviation, military intelligence, air and naval forces, the military academy, military police, the logistics brigade, and the signals and Republican Guard regiments.
Changes to facilities and rules and regulations have not moved as swiftly as female recruitment. Women make up more than 4 percent of those in uniform, and they routinely face training environments designed primarily for men. The terms of engagement and conditions of service are largely equivalent for men and women in the armed forces, though women face deficits in compensation for dependents and in maternity leave. The armed forces code of conduct is under review for gender mainstreaming, but this is driven by a general desire for women to serve rather than an underlying strategy.
Sexual harassment is rarely reported or punished, and gender discrimination is difficult to prove and punish, suggesting a lack of the means and will to enforce relevant codes of conduct. The commitment to female recruitment may also be a way to redress the low numbers of Christian personnel in the military’s confessional quota system.
The national gender policy is clear, meaningful, and aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Senior military officials believe that the force benefits institutionally from women serving, but gender mainstreaming rests on a ministerial decision rather than a national action plan, and can be revoked by the defense minister. Foreign providers of military assistance do not generally view gender mainstreaming as crucial to the armed forces’ mission, so they tend to lead by example rather than make it a condition of receiving aid.
Due to resource constraints and a senior officer cohort not sufficiently sensitized to the importance of knowledge management in modern warfare, data-based research and analysis do not consistently feed into the military’s policy, strategic, and operational planning. The armed forces underutilize the competence of individual personnel in quantitative and qualitative data collection and analysis, and have not established units or staffs dedicated to developing these capabilities.
The military’s confessional makeup makes representativeness an ongoing concern, so the personnel directorate regularly collects and assesses data on the armed forces’ social, educational, and gender profile. The armed forces are open to polling to assess public perceptions of the military, but rely on Lebanese civilian organizations, foreign donor states, and United Nations agencies to undertake it.
The military rarely releases data to the public, but when it does this is designed to improve its image. In general, secrecy overshadows information transparency with regard to nonoperational issues. The military often engages individual university researchers to lecture at military schools on data collection and analysis, but these agreements are ad hoc and do not represent a commitment to engage civilians in developing this capability. The armed forces are technically open to personnel participating in research seminars and publishing research, and many officers have done so in the past, but intelligence monitoring and rules against receiving payment for participation are disincentives against such activities.
Q1 - Civilian Contribution
Q2 - Integration of Women
Q3 - Utilization of Competences