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Well, it was not a particularly arduous winter here in southern Ontario, and spring is now in full burst mode in our little corner of the Great White North. With the promise the season brings, we hope we have cobbled together a diverse and stimulating array of articles, opinion pieces, and reviews to pique the interest of our readers.

In our lead article, Major Rob Stokes, a former infantry officer and now a lawyer serving in the Office of the Judge Advocate General, introduces a few of the conceptual approaches to military personnel law and policy (MPLP), views MPLP’s core concepts through the filtering lens of closely-related issues, and then closes with observations pertaining to MPLP development.

He is followed by Marco Wyss and Alex Wilner, two senior researchers for the Center for Security Studies at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, Switzerland, who present a compelling endorsement of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II as a 5th Generation fighter acquisition for Canada. As an old fighter pilot, I must confess that I find the debate surrounding the planned acquisition of the jet profoundly interesting. Nonetheless, the ramifications of cost overruns, production delays, some relatively minor structural issues (not unusual in a new aircraft), and a recently-announced, unspecified impact upon American acquisition plans all suggest that the jury of public, and, to an extent, professional opinion is still out on this unquestionably fine aircraft. Time will tell …

Next, Andrew Morrison, an Army Reserve Intelligence Officer and an associate veterinarian, argues that, given the complexity and diversity of today’s operations, use of the modern military veterinarian, focusing upon helping to build sustainable agriculture to help stabilize societies in need, is a  tool that should be employed by the Canadian Forces.

In our historical section, Christian Breede, infantry officer and PhD candidate in War Studies, outlines “ … the historical context (in relation to Clausewitzian theory) of  the (American) decision to develop limited nuclear options [LNOs]” as a strategy to counter the extreme policy of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) in U.S. nuclear war planning. He further offers that “… the search for those options was tainted by inter-service and inter-departmental rivalries, ultimately leading back to a de facto posture of massive nuclear exchange.” 

Pierre Pahlavi and Karine Ali then provide an interesting and informative study of Portugal’s little-known involvement in Angola, Guinea Bissau, and Mozambique during the period 1961-1974, “… as a unique perspective to examine the adaptation of a Western army to irregular warfare.” In doing so, they emphasize the cultural-cognitive (ideological/ideational), normative (doctrinal/strategic), and regulative (laws, rules) dimensions of Portugal’s counter-guerrilla efforts in the region “… [conducted] to prevent its three African colonies from becoming independent.”

Lots of opinion pieces in this issue, and I am very pleased that we are generating so much interest and comment. Lieutenant-Colonel (ret’d) Rémi Landry, an associate professor at the University of Sherbrooke and a former infantry officer with the Royal 22nd Regiment (Vandoos), furthers the ongoing ethical debate with respect to the morality of battlefield mercy killings through presentation of a fresh perspective on the ethical importance of the act committed by Captain Robert Semrau in October 2008. Next, Michael Gibson, the Deputy Judge Advocate General Military Justice, launches a spirited defence of Canada’s military justice system, which he staunchly maintains is one of the best in the world. Then, renowned Canadian historian Desmond Morton takes a fresh look at the Battle of the Plains of Abraham in 1759, and argues that it was the Royal Navy and its timely appearance on the St. Lawrence River the following spring, and not British land forces, that altered the course of history at Québec and in British North America. He is followed by the Canadian Defence Academy’s Dr. Rick Monaghan, who argues that the CF’s current language education and training programs cannot support the demand for them, and that they are about to be underfunded. In brief, he maintains, “… unless there is commitment to continuing to modernize Second Official Language and Training (SOLET), the CF requirement for bilingual personnel cannot be met.” Finally, as the last of the opinion pieces, NATO analyst Paul Cooper opines that the establishment of a specialized NATO Governance Support Team (GST) would be a welcome and worthwhile asset in helping to turn around a failed or failing state, or in establishing a post-conflict state.

Our own Martin Shadwick takes a detailed look at the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy (NSPS), and maintains, among other things, that “… sealift, support to joint forces ashore, and related capabilities are relevant to a broad range of military, quasi-military, and non-military contingencies, both at home and abroad …”
Finally, we close the issue with a rather extensive and diversified sampling of book reviews for further consideration by our readers.
Until the next time.

David L. Bashow
Canadian Military Journal