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Editor’s Corner

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Well, summer is here again in the Great White North, and hopefully we have amassed an interesting and diverse collection of issues for our readership to ponder this time out.

Leading off, our Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS), General Walt Natynczyk, in conjunction with Nancy MacKinnon of the Directorate of Western Hemisphere Policy at the Department of National Defence, explores the theme that re-engagement in our own Western Hemisphere has become a significant national priority, and that the security and defence issues affecting this diverse region are complex. The CDS makes it clear that Canada has a wealth of experience in assisting others to call upon, and that “…there are clearly opportunities for cooperation and exchange in the [western] hemisphere.”

Next up, Lieutenant-Colonel Dwayne Lovegrove revisits what Dr. Robert Sutherland of Canada’s Defence Research Board had, in 1962, determined to be the three invariants of Canadian foreign policy, namely, geography, economics, and broad national interests. He then analyzes how valid those invariants are today, and why they are important in contemporary Canadian policy. In so doing, Lovegrove pays particular attention to Canada’s unique and close relationship with our neighbour to the south, the United States.

He is followed by Major Keith Cameron, a combat engineer with extensive deployed operations experience, who examines “…the current tribal unrest in Afghanistan, focusing upon the Pathan tribes, which make up the bulk of the Taliban and the ongoing insurgency in the south.” Ultimately, Cameron arrives at many positive conclusions for dealing with the Pathan culture, which he believes is “…one of intermixed tribalism and Islam.”

Moving right along, Major (ret’d) Gerry Madigan, a logistician with many years of service as a finance officer, takes a fresh look at current defence spending, and argues that it has never been properly explained to Canadians. Specifically, Madigan looks at the recent Canada First strategy, suggesting that while it was sound and affordable when it was introduced in 2008, it cannot escape the economic realities of 2010. That said, Madigan nonetheless ultimately concludes that the strategy is still viable and appropriate for the nation in today’s economic circumstances, albeit with certain caveats and cautions.

Leading off our historical section, the distinguished Canadian historian Desmond Morton ‘takes a trip down memory lane’ in chronicling the achievements of Montreal’s McGill University’s Canadian Officers’ Training Corps (COTC), from its formation in 1912 until its disbandment in 1968. While national militarism had played a significant part in bringing the COTC to life in 1912, the 1960s, Morton maintains, “…were a time of student radicalism and political dissent north and south of the 48th Parallel,” and, given the great costs and lack of appreciation involved, this proud institution would soon fade to mere memories.

Robert Vineberg, a Senior Fellow at the Canada West Foundation, then chronicles the unappreciated career of the British general whom he believes was the true saviour of the Niagara Frontier during the War of 1812, Major-General Roger Hale Sheaffe, as opposed to Major-General Sir Isaac Brock. Vineberg offers very compelling food for thought herein as to why Sheaffe has not generally been accorded the respect the author believes he richly deserves.

In our Views and Opinions section, soldier and scholar Major Andrew Godefroy takes a fresh look at the influence generated by the 19th Century Prussian philosopher, Karl von Clausewitz, and argues compellingly that it is time to let Clausewitz go, and instead to rely upon our own formidable military ingenuity and legacy. He is followed by Captain [N] (ret’d) Peter Avis, who examines Canada’s evolving gateways and corridors system of land, sea, air, and cybernetic interconnections “…that weaves each of the pillars of our democracy – social, economic, environmental, international, security, and defence – into a national fabric.” Finally in this section, David Mugridge, an independent security consultant and a Research Fellow at Dalhousie University, suggests that the Canadian Navy needs to balance its ship acquisition programs more effectively. Fundamentally, Mugridge believes: “High-end capabilities need to be maintained, but not to the financial and operational detriment of the navy and its professional personnel.”

Our own Martin Shadwick then speculates about future roles for the DND/CF post-Afghanistan, and we close with a spate of recent book reviews, leading with Dr. Bill Bentley’s assessment of General Rick Hillier’s A Soldier First: Bullets, Bureaucrats and Politics of War.

Until the next time.

David L. Bashow
Canadian Military Journal

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