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J5PA Combat Camera photo IS2002-6747a by
MCpl Paul MacGregor

A LAV III belonging to the 1st Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry patrols along a road near Zgon, Bosnia-Herzegovina, November 2002.

MILITARY ETHOS

DEFINING THE CULTURE: THE CANADIAN ARMY IN THE 21ST CENTURY

by Colonel M.D. Capstick

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A strong Canadian Forces is vital to advancing international peace, stability and the human security agenda. As some of Canada’s most visible ambassadors abroad, the men and women of the Canadian Forces carry Canadian values to the world and play a significant role in building peace – from deterring aggression, to delivering humanitarian aid, to the support that they provide to aid and volunteer groups on the ground.1

On the night of 16 March 1993 Shidane Abukar Arone, a young Somali, was murdered while in the custody of Canadian soldiers. That single “Significant Incident”2 turned out to have far greater impact than anyone could have anticipated. For most of the last decade of the 20th century, that incident defined the public debate on defence issues in Canada. It resulted in a major public inquiry, innumerable studies into every aspect of the military profession in Canada and a process of institutional reform that will shape the Canadian Forces well into the 21st century. Much of the effort directed at institutional reform has been focused on the military justice system, “mechanisms of voice” such as the CF Ombudsman, the Military Police, education and training, and CF command and control procedures.3 In all, the institution has been engaged in implementing over 300 specific recommendations that resulted from an unprecedented number of studies, commissions, and reports.4 If “the essence of military culture is how things are done in a military organization”,5 there can be little doubt that this process of institutional reform will have a profound impact on Canadian military culture for a very long time.

Although there is recognition that the Canadian military is in the midst of a period of “profound cultural change”,6 there is little consensus on the definition of the desired CF culture. The Minister’s Monitoring Committee recommended “developing as soon as possible a clear vision of the desired institutional culture and of the qualities and characteristics of the officers who will serve in it.”7 However, the Committee’s report lacked any suggestion as to how that was to be accomplished. Is it even possible to develop a meaningful statement of ‘how things are done around here’ for an institution that combines military and civilian personnel; Regular and Reserve; Army, Navy, and Air Force? Is the CF intended to “fight and win in war”8 or is it “a vital instrument for translating Canada’s commitment to international peace, stability and human security into action...?”9 Are these two notions in conflict? Is there a need to change our fundamental understanding of the military ethos and, in turn, our vision of what it means to be a soldier? These questions defy easy answers, but they must be asked. In other words, if the CF is to remain a vital and relevant national institution, the desired military culture that will define ‘how things are done around here’ in the first part of the 21st century needs to be clearly stated. And, equally important, that definition of the culture needs to be a concept shared by the government of Canada, by Canadian society, and by those who serve in uniform.

WHAT IS MILITARY CULTURE AND WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?

The military profession stands and falls according to its ability to maintain and reinforce...military culture.10

The term culture does not lend itself to the kind of short, sharp definition usually sought by soldiers. It is a term that transcends traditional academic boundaries, in that it is often used in different senses by historians, psychologists, sociologists, and anthropologists. It is often misused in the popular press and by advocates with a point to prove. Most academic work describing military culture is American,11 as is much of the more general literature on the broader subject of organizational culture. Despite this, the working definition used by Professor Donna Winslow, formerly of the University of Ottawa and one of the few Canadian academics working in this area, provides a good basis for further discussion. She has stated that culture:

Represents the behaviour patterns or style of an organization that members are automatically encouraged to follow. Culture shapes action by supplying some of the ultimate aims or values of an organization and actors modify their behaviour to achieve those ends. It establishes a set of ideal standards and expectations that members are supposed to follow. It is important to remember that culture is not only a set of values, or ethos, it is also the customary style used in organizing action.12

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J5PA Combat Camera photo IS2002-2106 by MCpl Brian Walsh

Members of the 3rd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry preparing to move to a remote area of Afghanistan to establish a coalition presence, July 2002.

Although not a simple definition, this provides a basis for the further development of the concept of military culture. The Washington-based Centre for Strategic and International Studies recently issued a comprehensive study entitled American Military Culture in the Twenty-First Century. To add focus to their discussion, the authors offer the following definition, which will be used throughout the remainder of this paper:

Military culture is an amalgam of values, customs, traditions and their philosophical underpinnings that, over time, has created a shared institutional ethos. From military culture springs a common framework for those in uniform and common expectations regarding standards of behaviour, discipline, teamwork, loyalty, selfless duty, and the customs that support those elements.13

Clearly, the concept of military culture encompasses the essence of military ethos and professionalism, as well as shaping the behaviours of those serving. It is, at once, both theoretical and practical, and must be relevant to the day to-day-life of the soldiers, sailors, and aviators who provide the moral, intellectual, and physical components of combat power.14

Williamson Murray, an eminent American military historian asserts that “military culture may be the most important factor not only in military effectiveness, but also in the processes involved in military innovation, which is essential to preparing military organizations for the next war.” He uses history “with its grim landscape of defeated armies and shattered nations” both to substantiate his contention and to critique studies of “military effectiveness and innovation that treat military culture as a tangential issue.”15

The CSIS report is even more forceful in stating that “given the military’s unique role of managing violence on behalf of society, a strong and incorruptible culture is not only important but essential.”16 The incidents in Somalia and Bakovici are clear examples of the kind of failure that is inevitable when a military culture becomes weakened or corrupted. Leaders, both Commissioned and Non-Commissioned Officers, are the guardians of military culture. They are entrusted with ensuring that the ‘way we do business around here’ reflects Canadian values and the enduring military ethos that anchors military professionalism. To do this, they need a clear vision of the desired military culture, the tools and skills to ensure that it is truly reflected in the day-to-day actions of the organization, and the support of the senior political and military leadership in dealing with instances of failure in its application.

MILITARY CULTURE IN CANADA: THE ABSENCE OF DOCTRINE

The services as the true custodians of culture must ultimately take the lead in adapting to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century.17

Defining a specific military culture is no easy task. It is particularly difficult in an organization as diverse as the Canadian Forces, with three ‘services’, an integrated military-civilian command structure, and a force structure based on a mix of Regular and Reserve components. There can be no doubt that each of these ‘parts of the whole’ has developed a distinct culture based on their own unique operational requirements, history, and traditions. In other words, the military culture and organizational climate of an infantry unit on operations will be distinct from that found in National Defence Headquarters or in a fighter squadron. The result is that there is probably no unitary CF culture that can be applied across the entire institution. The ‘parts’ must, however, share an understanding of the core military values and ethos, as these are essential to the concept of military professionalism. In Canada, they will also operate within a common legal and regulatory framework, and will have some common organizational and cultural attributes typical of any military organization in a democratic society.

Although CFP 300, Canada’s Army, provides some indirect insight into military culture within the Land Force, it does not describe it as such, nor does it provide much concrete insight into ‘how we (the Army) do business’. No similar CF doctrinal manual exists, although the Statement of Defence Ethics (promulgated in March 1999) does provide some principles to guide the ethical conduct of both military members and civilian employees.18 Perhaps this lack of doctrinal guidance is, in itself, a reflection of a Canadian military that is still struggling to come to terms with its post-Cold War cultural identity. At the same time, as noted earlier, the CF and all of its ‘parts’ are in the midst of profound cultural change as the result of over 300 different recommendations for institutional reform. The Minister’s Monitoring Committee on Change has indeed criticized the lack of strategic vision in implementing these reforms, pointing out that many senior officers view the evolving military culture “mostly in terms of learning to manage with fewer resources, out-sourcing, and developing managerial as well as military skills.”19 As alarming as this may be, it is hardly surprising when the lack of clear strategic direction is considered in combination with the near absence of serious Canadian academic involvement in the field of military culture.20

James Burk, a prominent academic observer of the American military, has developed a model of military culture that includes four essential elements: discipline, professional ethos, ceremony and etiquette, and cohesion and esprit de corps.21 These will be present and operating in any military culture or sub-culture, and will have resulted from a complex distillation of factors such as the legal basis for the institution, its history and its tradition, the culture of society at large, and the operational context in which armed force is employed. Given the difficulty in developing a clear, concise statement of military culture that includes all of the nuances, Burk’s model will be used to frame the rest of this discussion at the strategic level.

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The requirement for a “clear vision of the desired institutional (military) culture”22 is unequivocal. It must be accompanied by a strong resolve by senior leadership to ensure that the vision is realized, and that it becomes the essence of military service. The danger is that any attempt to develop a mature statement of a CF culture will fail to recognize the essential distinctions in culture essential to the operational effectiveness of the three services. Soldiers, sailors, and aviators are different and need distinct service cultures to “permit concentration on skills and doctrine necessary for their respective roles on land, at sea, and in the air.”23

Even with renewed emphasis on the conduct of joint operations, the development of a joint culture is problematic. The authors of the CSIS report describe ‘jointness’ as “a value and not a culture unto itself”24 simply because it is an accepted article of faith that modern war is always fought jointly. Reasonably then, the process of developing a clear statement of the desirable military culture needs to begin with the ‘professional heads’ of the three fighting services. The results will then form a large part of an inclusive vision of CF culture, which is, in reality, an amalgam of its component parts. The remainder of this paper will attempt to develop a statement of the desirable military culture for the Canadian Army using the elements of military culture articulated earlier.

MILITARY CULTURE IN THE CANADIAN ARMY

In the British and Canadian armies, ‘the regiment’ is an extended family that reaches backwards in time and outwards in space to encompass those soldiers who have come to identify with its collective memories and traditions. Each regiment develops a culture that is partly rooted in the place from which it draws its members and partly in a set of values and mores that have been created for the sole purpose of making it different from other regiments....For the most part, their [the soldiers] life and loyalty centre on the regiment – not on the army.25

There are many facets of military culture that are common to all of the ‘parts’ of the Canadian military. For example, all operate within the same legal framework (the National Defence Act) and are commanded from an integrated headquarters in Ottawa. All three services are hierarchical structures that tend to promote officers and NCOs from the warfighting occupations to the positions of power and influence. The officers in the upper echelons of command are still predominately male and, with the exception of language, do not reflect the diversity of Canadian society. Most importantly, members of the CF come from Canadian society and bring the values of their families, regions, and linguistic groups into the service.

At the same time, the three fighting services have much in common with their counterparts in other liberal democracies. It is interesting to note that the theoretical basis of Canadian understanding of the military profession is based on the seminal work of Samuel Huntington, an American academic.26 It is also clear that individual services often share some of their most fundamental cultural traits more strongly with their allied counterparts than they do with the other services of their own nation. Air forces, for example, tend to ‘ “worship at the altar of technology,’ ”27 regardless of national origin. Armies, on the other hand, tend to emphasize the soldier over technology, and strive to develop a ‘warrior’ ethos that stresses the team over the individual.

To complicate matters further, small armies (like ours) will often model themselves after one or more of their stronger allies. Canadian Army doctrine is, for example, heavily based on US Army thought regarding manoeuvre warfare. At the same time, our practice during Peace Support Operations is far closer to the style of the British Army. The reasons for this are complex, and probably have their roots in both history and current strategic realities. Regardless, these realities need to be recognized and considered when developing a clear vision of the desired military culture for the Canadian Army of the next few decades.28

DND photo VKD 01-528-006

Soldiers belonging to 5e Régiment d’artillerie legère du Canada checking gun data during a live fire exercise near Glamoc, Bosnia, December 2001.

Its record of success in war (including the Cold War), and its unique adaptation of the British regimental system have largely shaped the historical military culture within the Canadian Army. Until recently, all four elements of military culture defined by Burk (discipline, professional ethos, ceremony and etiquette, and cohesion and esprit de corps) could be analysed in the context of these two main influences.

The Canadian Army disciplinary system, based on Queen’s Regulations and Orders, was largely indistinguishable from that used in the British Army. A catalogue of informal sanctions such as ‘extra duties’ and remedial training buttressed the formal military justice system. At times, these methods included the physical – ‘blanket parties’ and trips behind the ‘gun-shed’ with a Sergeant are part of this tradition. Another important feature of this disciplinary regime is that officers and soldiers were often treated differently. Not only were expectations of behaviour different, but officers would often resign as the result of actions that were considered to be ‘dishonourable’, while soldiers could be subject to a period of detention for a similar offence.

The professional ethos was based on the hard lessons of warfighting learned in two World Wars and Korea, and the traditions of parliamentary control that have their roots in Westminster. The Cold War Army prepared itself for global conflict out of sight and mind of the Canadian population, and emphasized the defence of the NATO front in Europe to the exclusion of most other activities. In fact, activities like peacekeeping were not considered to be ‘real soldiering’ by most military professionals.29

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Virtually every aspect of Canadian Army ceremony and etiquette, including its style ‘on parade’, dress, awards, mess life, and even officer/senior NCO relations mimicked the style of the British Army. Cohesion and esprit de corps were, until very recently, entirely dependent on a strong regimental system that encouraged a ‘cradle to grave’ system of rewards, sanctions and supports within the bosom of the regimental ‘family’.30 Inherently patriarchal, the regimental system used a well-defined set of roles, responsibilities, privileges and sanctions to ensure the smooth operation of the family. In short, it reflected a social order that most Canadians who came of age before the late 1960s would recognize.

This is not to say that the Canadian Army was a smaller replica of the British Army. The role of the Militia in the defence against internal and external threats, the peculiar political influences that were at play during its formative years, and the struggle for national sovereignty during the wars, all influenced the culture of the Canadian Army, making it a very unique national institution.31

DND Photo AP2002-5545 by Cpl Lou Penney

Coyotes from Lord Strathcona’s Horse Reconnaissance Squadron on patrol in Afghanistan, July 2002.

“Change is characteristic of military culture because of the many influences that constantly affect the values, behaviour, and beliefs that together define it.”32 As the Canadian Army emerges from the first post-Cold War decade, its focus has been altered from that of a strictly warfighting force to one with a broader role in the government’s human security agenda. At the same time, there can be no doubt that societal values and behavioural norms are changing, as well as its expectations of its soldiers. By definition then, the military culture of the Canadian Army will change. The only questions are: how will the new culture be defined and who will lead the change?

WAR FIGHTERS OR PEACEKEEPERS?

...if you change the principal task for which the military prepares, you are bound to change the culture.33

The first step in giving form to a definition of the desired Army culture must be to clarify the purpose of the Army itself. The official publication, Canada’s Army, states that the “army’s primary purpose is to defend the nation and, when called upon, to fight and win in war.”34 At the same time, another official publication, Defence Performance and Outlook 2000, highlights the role of the military in advancing Canada’s human security agenda, which includes “the ability to fight to protect the fundamental human rights and values that Canadians and the international community espouse” and “keep the peace once it is achieved.”35

At first glance, these two notions appear to many to be incompatible. The question of the proper use of military force dominated foreign policy debate in the United States for most of the Clinton presidency and, in turn, led to intense discussion within the US defence community about the impact of ‘humanitarian intervention’ on the warrior ethos.36 This same discussion (albeit on a much smaller scale) has occurred in Canada. Informed scholars like English (Lament for an Army) and Bercuson (Significant Incident) directly relate their views on the erosion of the Canadian Army’s culture and military ethos to the acceptance of peacekeeping as a priority task.37 In the popular press, a typical column in the Calgary Herald (24 February 2000) by Nigel Hannaford declared that:

...armed services are for the defence of the country against external threat and internal revolt. While they go peacekeeping for the UN we all know that these days we operate in the context of alliances with NATO and the Americans, that is just fluff. It’s to justify the military to those who don’t understand what it’s really there to do, which is to fight when called upon.38

What these opinions fail to recognize is the increasing congruence between previously very distinct types of military operations. While during the Cold War the difference between an anticipated Total War in Europe and Chapter VI Peacekeeping Operations was stark, the distinction is far more blurred in the post-Cold War era. Bercuson, for example, is right when he states that “Saddam Hussein was not talked out of Kuwait in 1991, he was blasted out” and that the Bosnian Serbs were not persuaded to come to the peace table in 1995, they were bombed to the peace table.”39 However, he fails to mention the part that international media coverage of the carnage on the now famous ‘Highway of Death’ affected the American decision to cease hostilities in the Gulf. He also ignores the role of the Croatian Army’s Operation “Storm” in driving the Bosnian Serbs to the peace table, and the fact that a Canadian battle group under UN control found itself, as a consequence, in the middle of a ‘real war’.

The NATO interventions in Bosnia and Kosovo both provide excellent examples of the constraints placed on the use of force in the post-Cold War world, as well as the evolving relationship between classical military operations and subsequent peace enforcement operations. In other words, the dichotomy referred to earlier simply does not exist.

J5PA Combat Camera photo IS2002-2126 by MCpl Brian Walsh

A Medical Officer serving with the 3rd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry speaking with a group of local residents during an operation in southern Afghanistan, July 2002.

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The implication for the Army’s military culture is clear: it must continue to be based on the primary purpose stated in Canada’s Army – to defend Canada, and when called upon, to fight and win. This includes the requirement to fight, when required, to protect fundamental human rights and values as described in the government’s human security agenda. In essence, the Army’s warfighting focus must remain at the foundation of its military culture and this must be strongly stated in the vision of the desired military culture.

DEFINING THE NEW ARMY CULTURE

...a warrior’s honour is a slender hope, but it may be all there is to separate war from savagery. And a corollary hope is that men can be trained to fight with honour. Armies train people to kill, but they also teach restraint and discipline...War is redeemed only by moral rules....40

The next step, then, should be to develop clear, concise statements that address each element of military culture in terms of the goals (or objectives) that, when taken together, over time, will result in the desired culture. These statements must be designed to support and reinforce the following vision statement, already articulated by the Army leadership:

One combat capable army of proud, professional, disciplined and highly motivated soldiers, encompassing Regular and Reserve components, supported by dedicated civilian employees, serving Canada and defending Canadian interests. (Land Force Strategic Development Guidance)

Discipline in the Army needs to be based on the self-discipline of individual soldiers supported by a fair and open system of military justice. The latter aspect has been the focus of much of the institutional reform effort of the past few years, and has gone a long way towards the development of a system that recognizes the changing nature of justice in Canada that has resulted from the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. At the same time, it is clear that limitations on Charter rights that result from the real and substantiated demands of military service need to be protected. However, the desired Army culture needs to respect the rights of individual soldiers by discouraging arbitrary, informal methods of punishment that do not conform to the principles of natural justice and procedural fairness. Self-discipline is best instilled by heavy investment in teaching core values in initial entry training and sustaining them throughout the soldier’s period of service.

The culture must include a Professional Military Ethos that builds upon the Canadian Forces’ values of integrity, courage, loyalty, selflessness, and self-discipline. Canada’s Army states that the Army’s expression of the Professional Military Ethos is based on the four precepts of duty, integrity, discipline, and honour. At the same time, the Minister’s Monitoring Committee’s Final Report – 1999 suggests adding “...accountability, self-examination and self-improvement, fairness and openness alongside the existing values of professionalism, loyalty, courage and service to country.”41 When the principles of the Defence Ethics Programme are added, it is obvious that we have too many lists, and that any description of the Army’s core military values can only be confused! It could also be argued that much of the language used in Canada’s Army is more appropriate to earlier generations than it is to today’s recruit. Since none of the lists of ‘values’ or ‘precepts’ are contradictory, and the core military values should probably apply to all three fighting services, it is vital that the CF develop a commonly agreed list of core military values that could then be applied to each service’s unique operational requirements. The following is suggested:

  • Duty. Duty is based on the concept of service to Canada. This is the first responsibility of all members of the military profession in Canada. It includes the imperative of ensuring that all military actions support and reinforce the basic Canadian values – peace, tolerance, security, stability, and a respect for democracy, human rights, and the rule of law.42 Duty includes the concept of accountability to the chain of command, the civil authority, and the Canadian people. It also entails loyalty to Canada, superiors and subordinates alike. The pursuit of professional knowledge, self-examination, and self-improvement is essential to the concept of duty. Finally, the duty of leaders includes responsibility for the professional development and well-being of subordinates.

  • Integrity. Integrity means doing the right thing. At the most senior levels of command it entails providing professional military advice to government with candour. Integrity also includes the self-discipline necessary to abide by the Laws of Armed Conflict, Rules of Engagement, Codes of Conduct, and other regulations and laws, even when appointed leaders are not present. It also demands that individual soldiers and leaders take responsibility for their actions and deal with problems in an open and transparent manner. Finally, integrity includes the sense of honour that is necessary to ensure that prisoners, detainees and civilians are treated properly during operations, and that Canadian values are upheld by all service members.

  • Courage. Moral and physical courage is essential to the Professional Military Ethos. The moral courage necessary to do the right thing when confronted with difficult choices is at least as important as the traditional concept of physical courage on the battlefield. This requirement for courage is necessary for those who are responsible for providing military advice to political leaders and for generating forces for operations. It is equally important for leaders and service members who must ensure that the conflicting demands of mission accomplishment and force protection are appropriately resolved.

  • Professionalism. Professionalism is essential for the successful conduct of operations. It includes life-long learning in respect to the military profession and international affairs as well as the ability to engage in self-examination and constructive, open criticism of all military activities. Not only must each soldier, sailor and aviator study the profession and learn from experience, the institution itself must formalize these processes. Most importantly, all military Human Resource policies must reinforce the military ethos and reward military professionalism. In other words, theory and reality must be congruent if the ‘way things are done’ is to become an accurate reflection of the core military values.43 The development of a leader selection and development system that values the professional military ethic over administrative skill will be an important component.

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Ceremony and etiquette are the most visible manifestations of military culture. Honours and awards recognize courage or meritorious service and must be publicly presented and the recipients acknowledged. Ceremonies such as change of command parades, retirement dinners, freedoms of the city, and ‘badging’ are intended to mark significant moments during an individual’s service or in a unit’s history. They are also intended to remind serving and retired members of our proud tradition of service to Canada and of past accomplishments. However, an excessive emphasis on ceremony, or a rigid adherence to formal etiquette are inappropriate to a modern military culture with a warfighting focus. Ceremonies must be balanced with members’ quality of life, must include families, and must be designed to reinforce core military values. Uniforms need to be kept simple and worn in a manner that reflects our military professionalism. The Army’s adoption of combat clothing as ‘dress of the day’, for example, not only simplified the daily care required, it serves as a reminder to all Canadians of our warfighting focus.

Cohesion and esprit de corps are essential to combat effectiveness. In the Army, the regiment is the basic building block for the development of cohesion and esprit de corps, both major factors contributing to high morale. However, the regimental system needs to move away from the patriarchal and hierarchical practices of the past. For example, it is no longer acceptable in the modern Army that junior soldiers be employed as waiters during social functions in the officers’ and sergeants’ messes. It is even more important that these institutions adopt an approach and style that is appropriate to the open and diverse nature of Canadian society. The regiment does not exist for its own sake, and it can become dysfunctional if regimental loyalty leads to “a confusion of loyalties, impede(s) integration of new personnel, or provide(s) a motive for covering up illegal or unethical behaviour.”44 The objective of the regimental system will, in future, be to develop unit-level cohesion and esprit de corps within the context of an appropriate hierarchy of loyalties – Canada, the CF, the Army, and the Regiment. Trust throughout the chain of command is essential to combat effectiveness, and it is the role of the regimental leadership to strengthen trust – not only within the family, but also throughout the Army and CF chains of command.

Obviously there is much more to the entire concept of defining Army culture. The intent here is to provide a strategic level statement that can then be used as the basic guidance for ‘how we do things around here’. That having been said, the development of a strategic level vision is far easier than the effort that will be required to really change the style and method of operation of an institution that has evolved its own unique character over a period of two hundred years.

LEADING THE CHANGE

...there is another and more important reason why uniformed professionals within the services must articulate better the needs of their services with respect of potential changes in the culture of the organizations they lead. Simply put, they are the professional experts and no one else is!45

Changing any culture is no simple task, and deliberately setting out to change the Army’s military culture will be no exception. However, the stakes in terms of operational effectiveness are so high that the challenge must become the focal point of leadership activity for the next several years. The American CSIS study concludes that a “sustained, successful effort will require clear focus and persistence, attributes not always displayed in organizations with pressing immediate needs and a high rate of turnover among the leaders.”46 The Minister’s Monitoring Committee’s Final Report has stated that the “military profession must engage in a forces-wide discourse on the subject of military ethos.”47 That discourse must, in turn, lead to a review of policies, doctrine, leader selection and education, and traditions to ensure that ‘what we say’ and ‘how we do things’ are aligned. Senior leaders need to lead this process. The essential first step is to reach a common understanding of the concept of military culture and its application to the Army. This needs to be followed by a series of discussions with the people most concerned – our soldiers, NCOs, and officers – as only they can ensure that the senior leadership understands the perceptions of those who lead soldiers, and soldier every day. Finally, and most important, the longer-term process of aligning theory and reality must begin.

This process will be complex, it will take a long time, and it will require a sustained and consistent effort. Accordingly, this paper must echo the final recommendation of the comprehensive CSIS Report American Military Culture in the Twenty-First Century: there is a need to create a special task force on military culture under the auspices of the professional head of the Army. The mission of this task force would be to manage the formal aspects of an Army-wide discourse on military culture. It would animate the debate, organize conferences, symposia, and focus groups to develop a mature statement of the strategic vision. Finally, it would provide advice as to the priority for the important policy level reviews referred to earlier. This task force should include serving officers, NCOs, and soldiers, as well as knowledgeable members of the academic and retired communities.

The inescapable reality is that the culture will not change itself, and the normal command and staff structure is already operating at maximum capacity in dealing with the high stress demands of today’s operations and resource problems. If, as has been concluded by nearly every student of military culture, that it is “the bedrock of military effectiveness,”48 the creation of a task force of this nature is essential.

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Colonel M.D. Capstick is Director Land Personnel Strategy on the Land Staff in NDHQ. He is also directing a project examining Army culture.

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NOTES

1. Canada, Department of National Defence, Defence Performance and Outlook 2000: Making a Difference at Home and Abroad (Ottawa, 2000), p. 5.

2. David Bercuson, Significant Incident: Canada’s Army, the Airborne, and the Murder in Somalia (McClelland and Stewart, Toronto 1996). Bercuson’s book describes the events surrounding the deployment of the Canadian Airborne Regiment as part of the ill-fated multi-national intervention in Somalia. It also provides a scathing critique of Canadian military culture in the post-Cold War era.

3. Canada, Minister’s Monitoring Committee on Change in the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces. Final Report – 1999 (Ottawa, December 1999). Cited hereafter as MMC Final Report.

4. Defence Performance, pp. 29-31.

5. Center for Strategic and International Studies Report, American Military Culture in the Twenty-First Century (The CSIS Press Washington, February 2000), Executive Summary, p. xviii. The emphasis is in the original.

6. MMC Final Report, p. 5.

7. Ibid., p. 14.

8. Canada, CFP 300 Canada’s Army (Land Force Command, Ottawa 1998) p. 2.

9. Defence Performance, p. 3.

10. Sam C. Sarkesian and Robert E. Connor Jr., The US Military Profession into the Twenty-First Century:War, Peace and Politics (Frank Cass, London 1999) p. 177.

11. Donna Winslow, Army Culture: An Annotated Bibliography (University of Ottawa June 1999). Of 357 citations listed by Dr. Winslow, seven are specific to the Canadian Military. Of these, three are Somalia related, and Dr. Winslow is the author of two of those.

12. Donna Winslow, Changing Military Culture, Powerpoint presentation to the National Defence Headquarters Daily Executive Meeting, 17 November 1999.

13. CSIS Report, American Military Culture, p. xviii.

14. See Chapter Two of CFP 300 Canada’s Army for a more complete description of combat power and the inter-relationship of its components.

15. All three quotes are from Williamson Murray, “Does Military Culture Matter?” in Orbis, Vol. 45, No. 1, Winter 1999 (Foreign Policy Research Institute, Washington).

16. CSIS Report, American Military Culture, p. 7.

17. American Military Culture, p. 77.

18. See http://www.dnd.ca/CRS/ETHICS

19. MMC Final Report B 1999, p. 7.

20. Professor Donna Winslow of the University of Ottawa is a cultural anthropologist who is engaged in serious research in this area and has briefed the senior leadership of the CF on several occasions. In the U.S., on the other hand, the academic community and the military leadership is engaged in wide-ranging debate on issues relating to military culture, the use of force in operations other than war and civil-military relations. The CSIS report and Orbis 43 (both cited in this paper) are but two examples.

21. James Burk, quoted in American Military Culture, p. 8. Also see Don M. Snider, “An Uninformed Debate on Military Culture”, Orbis 43, No.1, Winter 1999. These also appear in Chapter 2 of CFP 300 Canada’s Army, but are not described in terms of military culture.

22. MMC Final Report 1999, p. 14.

23. American Military Culture, p. xviii.

24. Ibid., p. 15.

25. Bercuson, Significant Incident, p. 120.

26. Canada’s Army, pp. 31-33.

27. American Military Culture, p. 11.

28. See Bercuson Significant Incident, Chapters 5 and 8 for his interpretation of the influence of the British and American armies on the development of the Canadian regimental system and the Canadian Airborne Regiment, respectively.

29. See Lieutenant Colonel (ret’d) John English’s book Lament for an Army, (Canadian Institute for International Affairs, Contemporary Affairs Series No.3, 1998) for an articulate, if flawed, defence of this point of view.

30. See Bercuson, Significan Incident, Chapter 5 and Canada’s Army Chapter 2.

31. Stephen Harris, Canadian Brass (University of Toronto Press, 1988) and Desmond Morton, A Military History of Canada (Hurtig Publishers, Edmonton 1988) provide excellent overviews of these influences.

32. John Hillen, “Must US Military Culture Reform?”, Orbis Vol. 43 No.1, Winter 1999, p. 43.

33. Hillen, p. 46.

34. CFP 300 Canada’s Army, p. 2.

35. Defence Performance and Outlook, pp. 3-5.

36. See F.G. Hoffman Decisive Force: The New American Way in War (Praeger 1996) and David Callahan Unwinnable Wars: American Power and Ethnic Conflict (Twentieth Century Fund 1997). Both provide articulate and well-researched discussions of American foreign policy and the appropriate role of the military in global interventions. The CSIS study American Military Culture in the Twenty-First Century, as well as intense debate in the U.S. military press, usually begin with an examination of this question. This debate has also reached the mainstream media. For example, The Atlantic Monthly has, in the last few years, published articles by Thomas E. Ricks (“The Great Society in Camouflage”, December 1996, “The Widening Gap Between the Military and Society”, July 1997) and Robert D. Kaplan (“Four Star Generalists”, October 1999, and “Fort Leavenworth and the Eclipse of Nationhood”, September 1996). Both of these authors are well respected journalists with national audiences.

37. English, Lament for an Army, p. 54 and Bercuson, Significant Incident, p. 242.

38. Nigel Hannaford, “Military Used as an Instrument of Social Change”, Calgary Herald, 24 February 2000, p. A21.

39. Bercuson, Significant Incident, p. 24.

40. Michael Ignatieff, The Warrior’s Honour (Viking, London 1998), p. 157.

41. Minister’s Monitoring Committee Final Report, pp 6-7.

42. These basic Canadian values are described in Defence Performance and Outlook, p. 3. They are based on the 1999 Speech From the Throne.

43. See LTC William F. Bell, The Impact of Policies on Organizational Values and Culture. Paper delivered at The Joint Services Conference on Professional Ethics, January 1999. Available at http://www.usafa.af.mil/jscope/JSCOPE99/ Bell99.html The main theme of Bell’s paper is that the values of an organization are communicated to its members by policy and action.

44. American Military Culture, p. 9. All of these symptoms of dysfunctional behaviour have been evident in the Army at one time or another. The performance of elements of the Airborne Regiment in Somalia and the sub-unit at Bakovici are two of the most egregious examples.

45. Snider, An Uninformed Debate on Military Culture, p. 25.

46. American Military Culture, p. 77.

47. MMC Final Report, p. 14.

48. American Military Culture, p. xv.


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