Why Maturity Models?

The central problem in civil-military relations is how to empower the military to provide for national defense, but still keep it under control. Analysts and policymakers alike have struggled with how best to measure the state of civil-military relations in any particular country. Some measures focus on conflict between military and civilian actors, especially using the history of coups or bureaucratic tension. Other measures focus on coup-proofing behavior, or the steps that state leaders take to prevent the military from usurping power, especially creating redundant military forces to counterbalance each other, structuring forces based on identity politics, or replacing officers frequently in high-level military positions.

These measures of the state of civil-military relations pose two main problems. First, they make cross-country comparison difficult. The events they measure are usually rare and have complex antecedents, making them an unreliable indicator of the state of civil-military relations in a given country. Examining bureaucratic tension or identity politics, as well as other indicators of conflict or coup-proofing, lends itself to in-depth case study analysis of the kind that Tawazun offers. In fact, many founding works in the academic study of civil-military relations, such as those by Samuel Huntington, Morris Janowitz, and Alfred Stepan, generally focused on one or a handful of cases. Even today, it is rare to find studies of civil-military relations that use large-n statistical analysis.

The second, and perhaps deeper, limitation of existing measures of civil-military relations is that they do not treat these as a system comprising a range of components that may be well or poorly integrated, giving rise to higher or lower efficiency. Instead, they focus on individual pieces of the puzzle, although interactions between military and civilian actors tend to be complex in reality. Measures of civil-military relations should likewise follow a systemic approach, capturing multiple elements and the interactions between them simultaneously. This is especially important for civil-military relations in Arab states, where tangible information is difficult to obtain, and where making judgements based on fragmentary evidence can lead to unfounded conclusions.

Tawazun: Index of Arab Civil-Military Relations measures the efficiency of civil-military relations using maturity models. These are management tools to assess systemic performance that lend themselves to cross-country comparison. These models can help policymakers and analysts to identify defense development needs, mitigate risks, and measure systemic performance in civil-military relations. By focusing on efficiency instead of conflict or coup-proofing, Tawazun can also help policymakers and analysts examine civil-military relations in a robust and systematic way, instead of relying heavily on anecdote and case study analysis.

How Maturity Models Work

Maturity models assess system efficiency with visual and quantitative tools. They have been used in a wide variety of fields, including military command and control and cyber security. They are useful for representing changes from the status quo in quantitative or qualitative capability. This makes maturity models useful for system assessment and comparative benchmarking.

The definition of maturity turns on measuring outcome versus process. Previous quantitative measures of civil-military relations, such as the frequency of coups or the redundancy of military forces, focused on end results, running the risk of imposing normative values. In contrast, the Tawazun Index focuses on process in order to assess system efficiency. By providing comparable, system-focused measures of the state of civil-military relations, the Tawazun Index improves both practical and theoretical understandings of how military and civilian actors relate to one another, in the Arab world and beyond.

Maturity models commonly use the levels shown in the following table to describe the efficiency of processes in a system. The table also shows the comparable levels used in the Tawazun Index.

Maturity LevelsDefinitions of Maturity LevelsTawazun
Efficiency Levels
Process unpredictable and
poorly controlled
Very Low
Managed Process characterized for
projects and is often reactive
Defined Process characterized for the
organization and is proactive
Quantitatively Managed
Process measured and controlled Fair
Optimizing Process improvement High
Sources: Mike Phillips, Carnegie Mellon University; Tawazun

The Tawazun Index assesses the efficiency of the most salient processes, practices, and competences that shape and govern civil-military relations in a given country. It measures efficiency with an expert survey that scores 123 indicators, which are grouped into five substantive categories labeled domains. These domains are:


Military Professionalism

Social Perceptions and Cultural Attitudes

Defense Finances and Economics

Civilian Competences

Each domain receives an efficiency score on a scale of 1 to 5, offering policymakers and other stakeholders a means not only of identifying weaknesses and gaps, but also of visualizing relationships between different domains. The maturity models therefore serve as a tool for evaluating and revising policy and the associated practices and processes. The Tawazun Index additionally permits comparative analysis of system maturity in civil-military relations between Arab countries, adding a further utility for evaluation and lesson learning.

Utility of Tawazun Maturity Models
The Roman poet Juvenal asked the central question of civil-military relations: “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?” or, “Who guards the guardians?” The Tawazun Index takes this a step farther and measures not only who guards the guardians, but also how well they are guarded, and how well equipped civilian personnel and agencies are to play their own guardianship role. It measures efficiency in processes and dynamics of civil-military relations in Arab countries and enables policymakers and analysts to pinpoint areas of inefficiency that impact civil-military relations, with indirect effects on outcomes of concern, such as state effectiveness, transparency, and human development.

Tawazun maturity models thus reflect a network of efficiency, whereby a change in one area influences changes in other areas. The Tawazun Index has a potentially wide application, since the efficiency of civil-military relations in Arab countries is based on a range of factors, including systems of governance, civilian competence in defence affairs, the transforming role of Arab armed forces since 2011, the legacy of one-party states for armed forces in politics, military business activity, and the impact of civil war and confessionalism.

Policymakers, analysts, and scholars can use Tawazun maturity models in four distinct ways. First, policymakers can address specific areas of inefficiency in processes regulating relations between civilian and military actors. Second, analysts and practitioners can devise mitigation plans to overcome key areas of inefficiency in the current state of civil-military relations. Third, stakeholders can use Tawazun maturity models to assess improvements in efficiency over time. Fourth, on a more ambitious level, once the expert survey expands to cover all Arab countries, academics can use Tawazun maturity models to build a theoretical framework for understanding and assessing civil-military relations useful not just in Arab states, but around the world.