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Editor’s Corner

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Well, the birds are chirping and trees are finally ‘greening up’ again here in the Great White North, so it must be time for the spring edition. And again, in keeping with the promise of the season, we hope this issue’s offerings will stimulate interest, consideration, and debate.

Taking the lead in this issue as he does with the Canadian Forces (CF), we are honoured to present our Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS), General Walt Natynczyk, his thoughts on the past year as it applied to the Department of National Defence (DND) and the CF, and the way ahead for our armed forces in 2011 and beyond.

Next, Queen’s University professor and former air force navigator Allan English offers what he calls an “outsider’s account” of the CF Transformation process to date, based upon his own service experience, his examination of the CF administration and culture, his extensive teaching experience, and his “… involvement in a number of CF strategic planning activities over the past 15 years.” Ultimately, Allan concludes with some lessons for Transformation, the main one being that “… while an intuitive command-led process has its strengths, it also has its weaknesses – many of which can be predicted by lessons learned from previous transformation attempts.”

Major Tony Balasevicius, a highly experienced infantry officer now employed in the realm of Future Security Analysis, takes a fresh look at the security issues associated with Canada’s Arctic. Specifically, he examines the roles that the CF will most likely be tasked with through implementation of the government’s Northern Strategy, and then looks at the capabilities our armed forces should focus upon with respect to the force structure needed to meet the demands of operating in the Arctic.

Jean Martin, an historian with the Directorate of History and Heritage in Ottawa, examines the whole “birth of a nation” idea generated in the wake of Canada’s great victory at Vimy Ridge as part of the Arras Offensive on the Western Front in April 1917. He offers that while that theme of a nation defining itself is widespread in English Canada, it is “… almost unheard of in Quebec.” Ultimately, he concludes that in the minds of most of the nation’s citizens, Canada had already existed for a considerable amount of time prior to the First World War.

Then, taking a figurative nautical ‘walk down memory lane,” sailor-turned-defence scientist Mark Tunnicliffe examines “… the almost still-born arrival of the Canadian Navy in the context of the military advice offered to the government by the British Admiralty,” and whose ‘perpetual interests’ were being best served by the Admiralty’s advice and lobbying effort. Ultimately, Tunnicliffe concludes that while Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier was able to stall away advice that was “… patently self-serving and increasingly oblivious to the aspirations, perceptions, and needs of the Dominions…,” Prime Minister Robert Borden would prove less successful in evading pressure brought to bear by the Admiralty.

Leading off our ‘Views and Opinions’ section, Colonel Bernd Horn makes a strong case with respect to the need for the need for ‘warrior scholars’ in today’s complex battlespace, and that of the future. He opines that “… military professionals must be adaptive and agile in both thought and action, as well as adept at critical thinking and sound reasoning – all benefits of education.” Next, the highly distinguished contemporary Canadian historian Doctor Jack Granatstein acknowledges widespread public concern that the teaching of Canadian history, particularly Canadian military history, is “… being all but driven out of history departments by declining faculty numbers and dropping enrolments…” While he does not hesitate to ‘name the culprits,’ Granatstein goes on to offer tangible solutions to the dilemma.

Next, Royal Military College St-Jean philosophy professor Manon Turgeon, in what could be considered an extension of Colonel Horn’s article, believes that scholarly reflection, “… along with the ability to analyze and to evaluate… forms an integral part of the responsibilities of members of the armed forces.” She then offers that the study of philosophy is the best manner in which to develop sound judgment, and concludes that such education is “… an essential prerequisite to modern soldiering.” Rounding out this section, Canadian public servant and student of Chinese politics Richard Desjardins examines China’s ever-growing military might, including its embracing of new and innovative technologies. Desjardins argues that while the bulk of research today in the Western world with respect to China’s current and future military capabilities is done in the United States, the growing presence of China on the world stage requires a better pan-Western understanding of both China’s longer-term intentions and those military capabilities.

The redoubtable Martin Shadwick is taking a brief hiatus from his regular Commentary, but readers need not despair. Martin will be back ‘in spades’ in the next issue. Rounding off this issue, however, as is our custom, we have a number of book reviews which we hope will whet your reading appetite.

Until the next time.

David L. Bashow
Canadian Military Journal  

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