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Editor’s Corner

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Well, it was a very slow start, but spring has finally blossomed forth in the Great White North. And in keeping with the promise of the season, we hope our eclectic line-up of offerings this time out will stimulate consideration and debate amongst our readership.

Taking the point in this edition, Colonel Bernd Horn, a regular contributor to the Canadian Military Journal, provides a graphic, first-hand account of recent combat operations in Afghanistan. Colonel Horn modestly neglects to mention that he was conducting a liaison visit to the unit under fire at the time, and that he is its former commanding officer.

Next, Brian Bertosa offers an examination of the Quran, the highest authority on all matters in Islam, with respect to the treatment of prisoners of war and non-combatants. It is intended to provide western nations and other organizations engaged in Muslim countries with a fundamental understanding of the conceptual foundations dealing with this very important and relevant subject. Then, Christopher Spearin discusses today’s challenges of maintaining a robust Special Operations Forces (SOF) capability within a relatively small armed forces, such as is the case with Canada.

With respect to strategic thinking, American scholars Ryan Hendrickson, Jonathan Strand, and Kyle Raney present a case study of Operation Artemis, the European Union’s (EU) peacekeeping deployment to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in 2003. Within it, they examine the need for a European Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), and assess the leadership provided in this direction by Javier Solana, a former NATO secretary general, and the EU’s High Representative for CFSP since 1999. Next up, Major Ken Craig re-examines 1970’s Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) for relevance in today’s world, discussing the current challenges and concerns.

Doctor Andrew Godefroy then provides us with a concise overview of a much larger project now underway in the Canadian Army’s Directorate of Land Concepts and Doctrine, namely, an in-depth analysis of the army’s capability development process as it has unfolded since the end of the Second World War. Specifically, this article, which bridges historical developments with present capabilities and future needs, homes in on the conceptual and doctrinal design portion of the process.

As the cover suggests, Easter Monday 2007 marks the 90th anniversary of the First World War battle for Vimy Ridge, and a re-dedication of the magnificent memorial first completed in 1936. This historic engagement on France’s Douai Plain became one of the very few successful Allied operations of the ill-fated Arras Offensive of 1917, and it was a watershed event for the young Canadian Corps. While, contrary to popular mythology, it was far from being an exclusively Canadian event, it did mark the first time all four Canadian divisions fought together, and although the corps suffered over 10,000 casualties, the ridge was captured from the Germans, and was never again surrendered to them during the war. Perhaps more than anything else, this successful engagement by Canadian infantry units, with British units in support, imbued the corps with a fierce sense of battle pride and accomplishment. And the motivation, confidence, and sense of self-worth the success generated would serve the Canadian Corps well in the fierce battles yet to take place. In celebration of this highly significant victory for Canada, Doctor Ken Reynolds of the Directorate of History and Heritage recalls the original commemoration of the Vimy Memorial by King Edward VIII in July 1936, 19 years after the battle, and the Canadian pilgrimage to and official representation at the event. Gordon MacKinnon then chronicles the service life and the demise of Major-General Malcolm Smith Mercer, the highest-ranking Canadian officer to be killed during the First World War. General Mercer, a reservist, was the first General Officer Commanding of the Canadian Expeditionary Force’s 3rd Division. This brave, resourceful, and conscientious officer succumbed to “friendly fire” shrapnel wounds from a stray British shell, received in No Man’s Land while on a front lines reconnaissance during the early days of the disastrous 1916 Somme Offensive.

We then offer a potpourri of opinion pieces, dealing with privacy and retention issues in the defence intelligence community, a soldier’s solution to meeting army recruiting objectives, fiscal problems associated with comparing force levels across nations, the development of a national security strategy in the context of integrated government activity, and another look at the Canadian Peacekeeping Myth. In our Commentary section, Martin Shadwick tackles the Arctic, and we close with yet another selection of book reviews.

Until the summer.

David L. Bashow

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