WarningThis information has been archived for reference or research purposes.

Archived Content

Information identified as archived on the Web is for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It has not been altered or updated after the date of archiving. Web pages that are archived on the Web are not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards. As per the Communications Policy of the Government of Canada, you can request alternate formats on the "Contact Us" page.

Military History and Education

Leopard 2

DND photo IS2011-2005-07 by Master Corporal Angela Abbey

The Evolution of Canadian Forces Staff Education and Operating in a Post-Cold War World

by Howard G. Coombs

Print PDF

For more information on accessing this file, please visit our help page.

A sound system for the production of effective professional officers is vital to the success of the newly unified Canadian Forces. It matters little whether the Forces have their present manpower strength and financial budget, or half of them, or double them; without a properly educated, effectively trained, professional officer corps the Forces would, in the future, be doomed to, at the best, mediocrity; at the worst, disaster.1

~General Jean V. Allard, Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS), Forward to
The Report of the Officer Development Board, March 1969


At the heart of credibility is the ability to clearly demonstrate the relevance of what we are teaching to the students.2

~Lieutenant-Colonel Colin Magee, Director of Curriculum,
Canadian Forces College (CFC), 17 September 2008


If one wishes to understand a nation’s interpretation of war and other conflict, one must understand the professional military education of that nation’s military, particularly that pertaining to the formation of senior staff officers. This learning shapes the activities of a nation’s military through providing paradigms to interpret war and other conflict, and then to formulate an appropriate response. The composition and provenance of such education plays an important role in the development of specialized military competencies that permit the profession of arms to perform its primary function - the structured use of violence on behalf of the state.3 Canada’s military has adopted three discernable paradigms, or conceptual models, in the education of its staff officers, and, due to the challenges of the contemporary environment, as well as institutional change, is in the process of implementing a fourth paradigm of professional education. These conceptual approaches have been derived from national and international influences and experiences beginning in the late 19th Century. During the age of the Imperial Army, it was the viewpoint of the British Army that shaped the staff education of Canada’s Army, the Militia.4 While in the early 20th Century, some contact occurred between the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) and the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) with their British counterparts, it was the Militia that seemed to have the greatest engagement.5 Then, during the Second World War and the years immediately following it, the staff colleges of the Canadian Army and the RCAF imbued the Canadian experience of conflict to shape their curricula. However, the burgeoning tensions of the Cold War, combined with unification, led to the creation of a single joint staff college. This new institution implemented in its courses professional ideas of distinctly American provenance. However, notably in recent years, Canada’s joint staff education has adapted to changes in the contemporary environment as a result of organizational reforms originating during the 1990s, and Canada’s military operations in Afghanistan. Now, Canadian staff education is in the midst of another conceptual shift, in an attempt to meet the demands of conflict in a post-Cold War world. As a result, Canada’s senior leadership is better able to deal with the challenges of the 21st Century, due to an adaptive system of professional military education.

Professional Military Education and Staff Colleges

Carl von Clausewitz

Art Resource ART346330

Carl von Clausewitz.

Central to any examination of professional military education is an understanding of the knowledge that comprises the core competencies specific to the profession of arms. These proficiencies are included in the curriculums of advanced professional military education. This material pertains to interpreting war and other types of conflict, as well as comprehending the linkages of these military activities to the state. In a related fashion, it is necessary to grasp the manner in which military activities are arranged throughout the breadth and depth of these forces to achieve overarching goals. Also of great importance is the role of the military as part of a multi-disciplinary national effort that would include other activities, such as diplomacy, and informational and economic initiatives.6

To appreciate fully the importance of this neglected topic, one must examine some broader considerations or perspectives pertaining to use of the profession of arms in the application of military force. For most countries, the use of such force is normally a choice of last resort. The decision to use that option, at least hypothetically, is made in a deliberate and measured fashion as an in extremis national response when politics and diplomacy have failed. In the words of the military philosopher Carl von Clausewitz from almost two centuries past, “...war is not merely an act of policy, but a true political instrument, a continuation of political intercourse, carried on with other means.”7 The more commonly used paraphrasing of this idea is that war is an “extension of politics by other means.” But Clausewitz continued with the following important notion: “The political object is the goal, war is the means of reaching it, and the means can never be considered in isolation from their purpose.”8 These ideas reflect a rational connection between policy and military activities that is generally accepted by nations such as Canada, in theory, if not always in practice.9 In this process, it is important to understand the roles played by senior military commanders and their staffs, as well as the professional culture and intellectual influences that have shaped the manner in which Canada’s military organizes war on behalf of its nation. Education is the manner in which these competencies are passed to practitioners.

Central to any understanding of a professional military is an awareness of the role of the staff officer in devising solutions to military problems on behalf of a nation. Staffs have existed since ancient times, and assist senior commanders in carrying out national direction. In its most rudimentary form the staff can consist of personal assistants to a commander. However, in modern times, staffs have become large and highly specialized organizations. The staff forms the intellectual core of any military organization. Staffs have continually evolved since the Napoleonic Wars, when nations mobilized in order to meet the threat imposed upon Europe by the armies of post-revolutionary France. Since that time, the scope and complexity of conflict has expanded. Staffs have developed to deal with all aspects of military activities, from operations to administration. In essence, staff officers prepare armed forces for what they have to do. The mathematician Gerald J. Whitrow wrote: “The primary function of mental activity is to face the future and anticipate the event which is to happen.”10 In this manner, staff officers look ahead, attempt to foresee what is to come, and organize their services for the roles that they will be assigned by government. In this fashion, they remove the burden of minutia from military commanders in order to allow those leaders to guide and manage their forces.11 An iteration of the British Army staff manual from 1912 exhorted staff officers to act in concert with the wishes of their commander, and:

...be unsparing in their endeavours to help the troops by every possible means in carrying out their difficult task; foreseeing and providing for obstacles and dangers that may arise; making clear what is required without ambiguity or possibility of misunderstanding; and ever careful to attend to the comfort of those under their General’s command before attending to their own.12

This directive also made sure that staff officers understood that they had no de jure power outside that vested in them by the person in charge. Theirs was an intellectual role:

Staff officers, as such, have no authority over the troops or services and departments, and though they are responsible for the issue of orders, it is essential that they should remember that every order given by them is given by the authority and on the responsibility of the authorized commander.13

In order to become a member of a military staff, officers must demonstrate that they are proficient in their métier. They must also successfully complete rigorous programs of studies that provide them with specific intellectual competencies. The institutions that offer these courses of study are called “staff colleges.”

It would be inaccurate to conceptualize staff colleges merely as military technical institutions. Rather, staff colleges are holistic in their curriculum, and, they reinforce the professional aspects of the profession of arms; empiricism, administration, and specialized knowledge.14 Staff colleges also provide students the opportunity to form relationships with other military practitioners, both instructors and students. The professional relationships created in this fashion also include alliance and coalition partners who send instructors and students to each other’s institutions. This transnational15  community has bonds that facilitate the transmission of professional knowledge between connected militaries, and, in extreme cases it occasionally exerts influence upon armed forces greater than that of national authorities.

The Development of a Modern System of Senior Professional Military Education

Prior to the Second World War, a limited number of Canadian officers attended Imperial staff colleges and a larger number of Militia officers took truncated forms of staff education in Canada. In 1940 the shortage of vacancies on British courses prompted the Canadian Army to create a short wartime course to educate officers in the knowledge needed to function as staff and leaders in an expanding military organization. The first iteration was conducted in England, with the remainder of these courses being conducted in Canada at the Royal Military College of Canada (RMC) in Kingston, Ontario. During the same period, some officers attended British and other courses.16 After the war, the Canadian Army Staff College (CASC) was established at Fort Frontenac in Kingston, and it continues to this day as the Canadian Land Forces Command and Staff College (CLFCSC). The CASC and its successor attempted to ensure that junior and mid-level officers were educated in the competencies required to command and administer army organizations, in both war and peace. Prominent Canadian military historian Jack English has affirmed that this army staff college was of vital importance to the maintenance of the army’s military expertise.17

Fort Frontenac

Base Photo CFB Kingston

Front portal at Fort Frontenac, Kingston Ontario.

In a similar fashion, the RCAF War Staff College commenced in September 1943.18 In October 1945, the RCAF War Staff College was renamed the RCAF Staff College, and it commenced the first peacetime programs.  Initially only six months in duration, this staff education was, in 1948, extended to ten months.19

With respect to the three Canadian services, both the Canadian Army and the RCAF had separate staff colleges. For the most part, the RCN addressed its need for staff officers by sending a small number of students to the CASC and the RCAF Staff College.20 However, despite that ‘cross education,’ unification created a need for mixed staffs of naval, army, and air force officers, all of whom required an understanding of integrated or joint operations.

In 1966, the Canadian Forces College (CFC) in Toronto was established as an amalgamated Canadian staff education institution. The creation of the CFC was a precursor to the unification of the Canadian military in 1968 from three distinct services to a single entity, the Canadian Forces. As a result, the new CFC took on custodianship of the professional education of the RCN, the Canadian Army, and the RCAF, and also became responsible for the education and training of future staff officers of the Canadian military.21 This new institution subsumed the former RCAF Staff College.

In addition to these institutions, the National Defence College (NDC) was established at Fort Frontenac in 1948. It was an organization analogous to the British Imperial Defence College, created in 1927 to study the high level interface between national objectives and military policy.22 The curriculum of the NDC was more wide-ranging then that of the other Canadian senior officer education institutions, and it focussed upon not only the military, but also upon the social, political, industrial, economic, and diplomatic aspects of national defence.23 This college was closed in 1994 due to fiscal constraints.24 However, not long after the closure of the NDC, two shorter courses were instituted at the CFC to replace the longer single course. The Advanced Military Studies Course (AMSC) commenced in 1998, and the National Security Studies Course (NSSC) was inaugurated in 1999. In 2006, these latter courses were renamed the Advanced Military Studies Program (AMSP) and the National Strategic Studies Program (NSSP). Like the NDC that they replaced, these courses aspired to teach not only the military, but also the non-military aspects of defence. As a result of the most recent bout of educational reforms, these programs were, in 2008, superseded by the National Security Program (NSP), amalgamating the AMSP and NSSP into one course of study.25

The professional education of the Canada’s armed forces in the period prior to the Second World War was shaped by the British Empire. Attendance at Imperial staff colleges ensured that Canadian staff officers retained a distinctly English cast and allegiance. Many of the limited number of graduates attained high rank during their careers. However, the general reliance upon the Pax Britannica not only imparted a distinctly British perspective to Canadian officers, but also ensured that the Canadian military was woefully unprepared for the Second World War.  In an effort to remain relevant to the Empire and to address domestic needs from its inception onwards Canada’s three services, with the exception of the First World War, were generally insufficiently resourced, equipped and manned. It was evident that the costly knowledge gained in the Great War concerning the demand for educated and experienced staff officers in order to conduct complex military activities was discarded in the post-war reduction of forces. Importantly, this decrease was accompanied by a return to the ‘arms of the Empire’ for intellectual guidance regarding the conduct of complex military operations.  The Canadian perspectives and ideas that had emerged from the military operations of the First World War were overshadowed by the professional knowledge provided by the British military. As a result, the Canadian services did not develop to any great extent the capacity to educate their own staff officers during the inter-war period, as the paradigms used to interpret war were those provided to a limited number of officers by the Imperial staff colleges and to a larger number of Militia officers in Canada. The cost of this unpreparedness would only become apparent at the outbreak of the Second World War.

The Return to Mons

Inglis Sheldon-Williams, The Return to Mons, CWM 19710261-0813, Beaverbrook Collection of War Art, ©Canadian War Museum

Return to Mons by Inglis Sheldon Williams.

The Canadian Army and the RCAF had both expanded rapidly at the beginning of the Second World War and experienced problems related to this sudden growth. After the fact, it was evident that the general neglect of staff education during the inter-war period, and the concomitant lack of introspective thought with respect to the military profession had an adverse influence upon the Canadian services during the war. At great cost, the Canadian Army, as well as the RCAF, had come to understand the need to develop and maintain its own staff education in order to produce its own educated military practitioners. As a result, the foundations of professional staff education for the Canadian military shifted from a primarily British to a Canadian paradigm. This national perspective was to endure for the next two decades, until the educational reorganization precipitated by the unification of the Canadian military.

In the years after the Second World War, the burgeoning alliance with the United States that had been created by the necessities of that war, and a post-conflict willingness to support the Pax Americana,set the strategic context and corresponding tone of operations for the Canadian services in the following decades. The RCN, the Canadian Army, and the RCAF became closely affiliated with their American counterparts. At times, in an absence of clear policy objectives that pertained to national security the Canadian services focussed upon their own visions of Canadian defence needs within the global environment. In some cases this viewpoint was formed by military-to-military contacts with American services, while in other cases were created by American perspectives provided in the milieu of alliances, such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), through bilateral agreements, such as North American Air Defence Command (NORAD) [later, the North American Aerospace Defence Command – Ed.], and within multinational organizations akin to the United Nations (UN). The lack of consistent and lasting strategy, either national or otherwise, to provide a focal point to Canadian military efforts, created a Cold War history of operations that were carried out in a fragmentary manner. For example, the Korean War, the use of Canadian contributions to NATO, and the creation of NORAD demonstrated Canada’s commitment of military forces as an obligation of its alliances. This involvement occasionally took place without either a clear understanding of its ramifications or being able to provide input into how these Canadian military forces would be used.26

Aggravating this disconnection between national direction and military operations was the isolation of the Canadian military profession from larger society. The characteristics of the profession had come to reflect transnational military relationships formed after the Second World War. Members of the profession of arms in Canada defined themselves through their mutual interactions with the American services.

These interrelated aspects of the utilization of the Canadian military in the last half of the 20th Century, along with the separation of the profession of arms from Canadian society, provide a complex and dynamic background to the increasing influence of the United States in the education of the Canadian staff officer during the Cold War.

It also must be highlighted that this use of the Canadian military, and the relationship of the Canadian profession of arms to society, contextualized the staff education offered after the Second World War. While the courses offered by the Canadian Army and the RCAF were created using the Canadian knowledge painfully gained over years of conflict, the curricula retained some of its British heritage, and also absorbed increasing American content. The transnational influence of the United States became especially pronounced after the restructuring of professional military education brought about by unification of the RCN, the Canadian Army, and the RCAF into an integrated force. In the absence of Canadian joint professional military knowledge, that of the United States – Canada’s major Cold War partner - was used.

The new Canadian Forces staff education was built upon the structure of the RCAF Staff College. However, the unification of the Canadian Forces had produced an organization that lacked an integrated doctrine. Consequently, the CFC utilized American and NATO materials to educate Canadian Forces officers. This resulted in continued ambiguity in understanding the military connections to the direction of Canada’s government. This flaw was reinforced by curriculum arguing that Canada would only employ its military within an alliance or coalition.

As a result, by the 1980s, the Canadian Forces had created a command and staff course that appeared to meet the needs of Canada’s Cold War commitments, but lacked national perspectives with respect to the use of military power. Officers who attended the CFC developed ideas concerning military operations that were not determined by Canadian military heritage, but by the alliances of the period. In the absence of introspective thought on the nature of Canada’s national and international military engagement on behalf of its nation, ideas were supplied verbatim from the transnational community of practice established within North America. The most significant paradigm shift of the Cold War, the acceptance of the “operational level of war,”27 was the result of this intellectual void. Adopting this American change would come to shape how Canadian officers envisaged and arranged military operations on behalf of their nation at the end of the 20th Century.28

Post-Cold War Conflict

In the 1990s, the fragmentation of the Soviet Union, continuing globalization, perceived inequalities of resource distribution, ethnic and ideological differences, amongst other factors, created numerous smaller scale conflicts, both intra-national and trans-national in nature. Canada’s military soon found itself embroiled in peace support operations, focussed mainly on Eastern Europe and Africa. For the most part, the challenges of this increasingly complex and non-linear environment were met with various degrees of success by a military that had been created to deal with the relatively straightforward challenges posed by the Warsaw Pact, at sea, on land, and in the air over Northern Europe.

Canadian troops in Somalia

DND photo ISC 93-78

Canadian troops in Somalia, 1993.

Events such as those which occurred during Canadian deployments to Somalia in 1993, and to Bacovici in the Former Republic of Yugoslavia during 1993-1994, created a significant amount of public and private introspection regarding the nature of the profession of arms in Canada.29 There were public boards of inquiry in addition to a number of reports, which, in turn, prompted governmental supervision, through the Minister of National Defence, to deal with the most pertinent recommendations of these cases, particularly those arising from the Somalia Inquiry. Following on were other reports and projects, such as the Report to the Prime Minister on the Leadership and Management of the Canadian Forces (1997), A Strategy for 2020 (1999), and Officership 2020 (2001), all of which rejuvenated efforts to make both education and professional education relevant to Canadian military professionals.30 Also, in order to provide institutional support to these recommendations the Canadian Defence Academy (CDA), was created in 2002, and in 2004, was given an official mandate “to act as the institutional champion of Canadian Forces professional development.”31

Concurrently, the demise of the National Defence College in 1994, as a result of federal budget reductions, created an impetus within the Canadian Forces to address an unease regarding the lack of higher level education for senior and general officers. This concern had manifested itself earlier in the recommendations of a number of official reports, commencing with the 1969 Rowley Report, through to the more recent 1995 Report on the Officer Development Board: Part I. These reports indicated that a revision of senior professional military education was needed to provide educational experiences that focussed upon the higher level aspects of fighting wars, and on national and international studies.32 The gap in professional military education caused by the closure of the NDC led to the approval and establishment of the AMSC and the NSSC at the CFC in 1998. The curriculum of the AMSC specifically contained competencies pertaining to the operational level of war.33 One could argue that the trend established during the Cold War to use American professional concepts that were more suitable to the problems imposed by Westphalian notions of ‘state-on-state’ conflict had endured at the dawn of the 21st Century.

Modern Education Reforms

The potential impact of non-state actors with global reach increased in importance for Western nations as a result of a number of attacks on US interests overseas in 2000. However, the bombings of the United States Embassies in Tanzania and Nairobi, as well as the USS Cole in Yemen, were, by-and-large, treated as anomalies until the destruction of the World Trade Center on 11 September 2001. This event ushered in an era of warfare in which, even for the most powerful Western nations, it became obvious that some potential opponents are extremely difficult to discern, define, dislocate, or destroy. These threats are asymmetric in nature, requiring well-educated military leaders who use developed cognitive skills in an intellectually agile and practiced fashion to delineate the complex problems of the current security environment, and to apply the precepts of military doctrine to devise relevant and lasting solutions.

This is a difficult and daunting task.

A number of initiatives then commenced to assist with the evolution of professional military education for senior officers. The CDA conducted an end-to-end review of officer professional education that was completed in 2003, and it noted a number of problem areas, specifically with the staff education offered to lieutenant-commanders/majors – commanders/lieutenant-colonels at the CFC. Following from this, in 2004, the Armed Forces Council (AFC)34 directed an examination of this professional activity and the associated professional development of this segment of officers. As a result of this scrutiny, a number of shortcomings were brought forward. Firstly, it was noted that the officers sent to the CFC for the Command and Staff Course (CSC), now known as the Joint Command and Staff Program (JCSP), frequently received this professional education too late in their careers to benefit the Canadian Forces. Also, for the most part, only officers that had the potential to be selected for command where being sent to the CSC, leaving many other officers without the skills necessary to function in other senior officer positions. Secondly, the course focussed upon, for the most part, professional command and staff proficiencies, but did not key in upon the other skills necessary to address the institutional needs of the Canadian Forces. Lastly, it was acknowledged that the underpinnings of professional development consisted of “education, training, experience, and self-development.” The aspect of self-development was not seen to be adequately represented at this level of professional formation.35

These observations resulted in AFC direction to examine this period of a senior officer’s development using a number of principles. These were: (1) a re-examination of the professional competencies required by lieutenant-commanders/majors – commanders/lieutenant-colonels; (2) a recognition that not all officers who require this professional development will command; (3) a recognition that a number of formal and informal paths could be taken to reach the same outcomes (and, incidentally, could provide much greater flexibility for education); (4) a requirement to design and put into action an educational program like the CSC for all senior officers; (5) a need to produce a distance learning variant of the CSC; (6) a requirement to examine multiple delivery methods for both distance and residential variant of the CSC; and (7) a need to create a system to manage equivalencies, assessments of prior learning, and tailored professional development proposals.36

Some aspects of this direction had already been implemented at the CFC and at RMC. For example, the Masters of Defence Studies (MDS) program syllabus had been finalized in 2001, along with the support of a Department of Defence Studies in teaching, research, and curriculum development. Both the MDS and this faculty exist as an extension of the RMC academic programs, and provide a depth and academic rigour to what otherwise might be a narrowly focussed professional program. Prior learning assessment for the MDS exists as a function of the Office of the Registrar at RMC.37

General Rick Hillier

DND photo Ar2006-S003-0123 by Captain Edward Stewart

General Rick Hillier (left) visits soldiers at Strong Point West in Afghanistan, 24 December 2006.

This AFC guidance was soon provided momentum. The 2005 appointment of General Rick Hillier as Chief of the Defence Staff was quickly followed by organizational turbulence in the form of Canadian Forces transformation. This initiative created a plethora of new headquarters, with a concomitant demand for staff officers. Additionally, there were increased requirements for staff officers to meet the demands of the continuing and the growing Canadian Forces engagement in Canada and abroad, in places such as Afghanistan. All of this revitalized staff education, and in late-2007, the AFC directed a revitalization of professional education from the lieutenant-commander/major to general/admiral ranks. It also directed Residential and Distance options for JCSP, as well as a consolidation of AMSP/NSSP into a single NSP – all of which took place by September 2008.38

Also, during the same period, starting in the early-2000s, an evolution of the curricula of these programs took place. Increasingly, the education offered by the CFC, while informed by the practices of our American allies, has attempted to include an increasing Canadian professional content. These ongoing education revitalization initiatives have provided the Canadian Forces, through CDA/CFC/RMC, the chance to offer the bulk of senior Canadian military professionals’ educational activities that endeavour to reflect the demands of today’s challenges in a multinational and multi-agency setting.

It would be remiss to suggest that this evolution of professional military education has not been without ongoing challenges with regards to its structure, content, and delivery. There remains work to do in perfecting these programs, and this revitalization is not yet finished.39 Both JCSP (Residential and Distance) continue to evolve, the NSP continues to strive for excellence in the realm of Canadian strategic thinking, while CDA continues to examine tailored education for flag rank officers to match employment, both actual and projected.40


Canadian military operations from the 1990s onwards have taken place in post-conflict regions or failed states. Western, including Canadian, military approaches, like that represented by the operational level of war, were originally derived from theories put forward by Clausewitz and other 19th Century theorists. While still usable, these methods are more suited to application in an environment where the predominant form of conflict is between nation states. Therefore, these models are of limited utility in current times where one’s opponent is often distributed internationally, and robustly networked. Because the Canadian Forces is no longer dealing with the ‘son of Desert Storm,’ but rather, the ‘stepchild of Chechnya,’ professional military education must be relevant and timely.41 In order to devise feasible and suitable solutions to security problems today, Canada’s armed forces are obliged to deal with complex and chaotic dilemmas in a fashion acceptable to myriad participants. Consequently, the Canadian Forces is migrating from a completely American vision of organizing military activities, to perspectives shaped by the Canadian post-Cold War experience.42 While still retaining American provenance, its Canadian usage expresses a different outlook with respect to professional thought. The undercurrents surrounding this shifting professional knowledge are similar to those that coalesced to form the curricula of the CASC and RCAF Staff College after the Second World War, a time when Canada’s staff colleges designed a new staff course that catered to their wartime experiences through education. This exemplar supplies a prism through which Canadians can interpret ongoing changes to, not only the Canadian Forces and its staff education, but, more importantly, to Canada’s profession of arms, their allegiances, and their activities in a constantly shifting global environment.

Leopard II

DND photo AR2011-0050-008 by Corporal Jean-Francois Carpentier

CMJ Logo

Colonel Howard G. Coombs, CD, PhD, is an Assistant Professor at the Royal Military College of Canada and a serving army reserve officer, affiliated with the Princess of Wales’ Own Regiment. He is deployed, currently, with Joint Task Force Afghanistan 5-10 from September 2010 to June 2011 as a civilian advisor to the Task Force Commander.


  1. Quoted in Canada, Department of National Defence (DND), Minister of National Defence, Direction for the Establishment of the Canadian Defence Academy (The Charter of the Canadian Defence Academy) March 2004, p. 1.
  2. Canada, DND, Canadian Forces College (CFC), “5570-1(DOC) Professional Development for DOC faculty,” signed by Lieutenant-Colonel C.G. Magee, dated 17 September 2008, p. 5.
  3. Lieutenant-General Sir John Winthrop Hackett, The Profession of Arms – The Lees Knowles Lectures for 1962 (London: The Times Publishing Company Limited, 1962), p. 3.
  4. During this period, both full-time and part-time components of the Canadian Army were referred to collectively as the “Militia.” The former component was known as the “Permanent Active Militia” or “Permanent Force,” while the latter group, today called the Reserve, was the “Non-Permanent Active Militia.” E-mail from Dr. Steve Harris, Chief Historian, Directorate of Heritage and History (DHH), National Defence Headquarters, to author, Monday, 22 October 2007.
  5. See DHH Archives, File 530.03 (D1), “Folder listing personnel who have attended Staff Courses, gradings obtained, files applicable to Courses, received from DMT, August 1962.”
  6. See “Chapter 3:  Professional Ideology and the Profession of Arms,” in Lieutenant-Colonel Bill Bentley, Professional Ideology and the Profession of Arms in Canada (Toronto: The Canadian Institute of Strategic Studies, 2005), pp. 51-84.
  7. Carl Von Clausewitz, On War, Michael Howard and Peter Paret, (eds. and trans.) (Princeton:  Princeton University Press, 1976, paperback edition, 1989), p. 87.
  8. Ibid.
  9. While from a Canadian perspective, the clarity of the relationship between policy and military strategy has not always been well defined, the need for policy to guide military activities has been part of the legacy of the Canadian civil-military relationship. Doctoral candidate Major-General Daniel Gosselin, (who, at the time of writing, occupies the position of Commander of the Canadian Defence Academy), has discovered in the course of his research a continuous record of this understanding. Major-General Daniel Gosselin, “Perspectives on Civil-Military Relations, National Direction and Strategic Command,” a presentation given to the Canadian Forces College, Toronto, Ontario, 11 July 2009.
  10. Quoted in David Kahn, “Note:  The Prehistory of the General Staff,” The Journal of Military History, Vol. 71, No. 2 (April 2007), p. 500.
  11. Ibid,  pp. 500-501; and for a history of military staffs, see Brigadier General (ret’d) James D. Hittle, United States Marine Corps, The Military Staff:  Its History and Development, 3rd Ed. (Harrisburg, PA: The Stackpole Company, 1961).
  12. United Kingdom, War Office, Staff Manual War Provisional 1912 (London: His Majesty’s Stationary Office, 1912), p. 7.
  13. Ibid.
  14. See Kahn, “Note.” 
  15. “Transnational” is used in the sense of operating between or outside national borders.
  16. John A. Macdonald, “In Search of Veritable: Training the Canadian Army Staff Officer, 1899 to 1945” (Unpublished MA dissertation, Royal Military College, March 1992), pp. 99-112.
  17. In his monograph, Lament for an Army, John English states, “Like the British Staff College, after which it was modelled, the CASC was the nursery of the General Staff and the single most important educational institution in the army.” see John A. English, “Lament For An Army: The Decline of Military Professionalism,” in Contemporary Affairs,Number 3 (Concord, ON:  Irwin Publishing, 1998), p. 6.
  18. William R. Shields, “Canadian Forces College History Project - Canadian Forces Command and Staff College:  A History 1797-1946 – Draft (Final Edited Version)” (Toronto: Canadian Forces College, 1987),” pp. 3-6/9 to pp. 4-8/30.
  19. Canada, Canadian Forces College, “The History of the College” (nd), pp. 3-6.
  20. Canada, DND, DHH Archives, File 82/189, Memorandum from Chief of Personnel to CDS, P 4500-26 (DT) dated 16 December, 1965, “Integrated Staff Training” (Ottawa: Canadian Forces Headquarters, 11 January 1966), p. 1.
  21. Canada, DND, Vice Chief of the Defence Staff, File F 1901-4352/8(DO), “Canadian Forces Organization Order 1.8 – Canadian Forces College, Toronto,” 3 October 1966.
  22. For information concerning the formation of the Imperial Defence College, see Brevet-Major A.R. Godwin-Austin, The Staff and the Staff College, with a foreword by General Sir George F. Milne (London:  Constable and Company Ltd, 1927), Vol. 2, pp. 85-86.
  23. English, Lament For An Army, p. 82.
  24. Canada, DND, Canadian Officership in the 21st Century Detail Analysis And Strategy For Implementation (Officership 2020):  Strategic Guidance for The Canadian Forces Officer Corps and the Officer Professional Development System (March 2001), BN 2/15.
  25. Ronald G. Haycock, “The Labours of Athena and the Muses: Historical and Contemporary Aspects of Canadian Military Education,” in Military Education: Past, Present and Future, Gregory C. Kennedy and Keith Neilson (eds.) (Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers, 2002), pp. 174-175.
  26. See Howard G. Coombs with Richard Goette, “Supporting the Pax Americana: Canada’s Military and the Cold War,” in The Canadian Way of War: Serving the National Interest, Bernd Horn, (ed.), (Toronto: Dundurn Press, 2006), pp. 265-296.
  27. The importance of this concept was that it formalized the conversion of strategic objectives into aims that could be understood and attained at the tactical level of military activity. It presupposes a linear and structured relationship of purposes, from grand or national strategy, to military strategy, through operations, to tactics. One can argue that at times, this concept exists more in theory than in practice. For a Canadian perspective, see Coombs with Goette, “Supporting the Pax Americana,” and for a recent American point of view, read Steven Metz, Iraq and the Evolution of American Strategy, with a foreword by Colin S. Gray (Washington, DC: Potomac Books, Inc., 2008).
  28. For further information on the adoption of the operational level of war by the Canadian Forces, see Howard G. Coombs, “In The Wake of a Paradigm Shift:  The Canadian Forces College and the Operational Level of War (1987-1995),” in Canadian Military Journal, Vol. 10, No. 1 (Spring 2010), pp. 19-27.
  29. For more detail into these events, see Dr. Donna Winslow, “Misplaced Loyalties: The Role of Military Culture in the Breakdown of Discipline in Two Peace Operations,” in Journal of Military and Strategic Studies, Vol.6, No. 3 (Winter 2004), pp. 345-367. See also, Barry Came, Luke Fisher, and Mark Cardwell, “Military Investigates Misconduct,” in Maclean’s (29 July 1996).
  30. Canada, Department of National Defence, Canadian Officership in the 21st Century (Officership 2020): Strategic Guidance for the Canadian Forces Officer Corps and the Officer Professional Development System (February 2001), p. i.
  31. See Forward, Allan English, Understanding Canadian Military Culture (Montreal & Kingston: McGill Queen’s University Press, 2004); and also, Canada, National Defence, Minister of National Defence, Direction for the Establishment of the Canadian Defence Academy, p. 1.
  32. Lieutenant-Colonel Randy Wakelam, “Senior Professional Military Education for the Twenty-First Century,” in Canadian Defence Quarterly, Vol. 27, No. 1 (Autumn 1997), pp. 14-15.
  33. Ibid, pp. 15-17.
  34. Armed Forces Council is the senior military advisory body in the Canadian Forces.
  35. Canada, National Defence, Canadian Defence Academy, “4500-1 (SSO OPD)
    Briefing Note for ADM HR (Mil) – The DP3 Project,” prepared by Lieutenant-Colonel Michael J. Goodspeed, dated 04 May 2004, p. 2. This version should be considered a draft because it is unsigned.
  36. Ibid, p. 3.
  37. Canada, DND, CFC, “Board of Visitors Meeting of the BoV, Toronto, 15-16 November 2004, Fourth Report to the Commandant 10 December 2004,” Chair Dr Albert Legault, This version should be considered a draft because it is unsigned.
  38. Canada, DND, Armed Forces Council, “1180-1 (D NDHQ Sec) Special Commander’s Council Meeting Held on 20 November 2007 – Record of Decisions,” prepared by D. A. Noble, dated November 2007, p. 2. This version should be considered a draft because it is undated and unsigned.
  39. See Canada, DND, CFC, “Board of Visitors Meeting of the BoV, Toronto, 15-16 November 2004 Fourth Report to the Commandant 10 December 2004.”; Canada, DND, CFC, “Board of Visitors Meeting of the Board 25-26 April 2005 Fifth Report to the Commandant 03 May 2005,” Chair Dr. Albert Legault, This version should be considered a draft because it is unsigned. More recent assessments are not available as the Board of Visitors, an independent body responsible for evaluating the academic and related aspects of the professional education offered by CFC, has not rendered a report since 03 May 2005. E-mail to Dr. Howard G. Coombs, Tuesday, 15, March 2011, in possession of the author. Finally, some of the current challenges with the professional CFC programs were experienced by the author while the Program Director JCSP (DL) during 2008-2010.
  40. See Canada, DND, CFC, “Program Definition – JCSP (DL) 15 Dec 07”; Canada, DND, CFC, “NSP Planning Guidance dated 13 Dec 07”; Canada, National Defence, Canadian Defence Academy, “7000-1 (SSO PD) Commander Canadian Defence Academy Guidance – Interim Professional Military Education Revitalization,” signed by Brigadier-General L.E. Aitken, dated 10 March 2009; and,  see also Canada, DND, CFC, Lieutenant-General (ret’d) Michael Jeffery, “CF Executive Development Programme (DP 5) Programme Development (December 2009).”
  41. Quotes from General Charles C. Krulak, “Address to National Press Club - Three Block War:  Fighting in Urban Areas 10 October 1997,” Washington, DC.
  42. Howard G. Coombs and General Rick Hiller, “Planning for Success: The Challenge of Applying Operational Art in Post Conflict Afghanistan,” in Canadian Military Journal, Vol.6, No. 3 (Autumn 2005), pp. 12-13.

Top of Page