Editorís Corner

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Well, yet another picturesque autumn is upon us here in southern Ontario, and as we continue to commemorate the bicentennial of the War of 1812, it occurs to yours truly that perhaps the red coats of the British could have been a rather effective camouflage tactic, as long as said troops were forming up against a grove of sugar maples in the fall…

Seriously, we continue to pay due homage to the War of 1812 in North America through articles and book reviews, but also through the image that graces our cover.
In late-October 1813, a composite force consisting of approximately 1630 French Canadian regulars, militia, and Mohawk warriors under Lieutenant Colonel Charles de Salaberry repulsed an American force of about 4000 attempting to invade Canada and end the war by capturing Montréal. The American plan called for a two-pronged assault; one advancing up the St. Lawrence River from Sackett’s Harbour on Lake Ontario, and the other advancing north from Plattsburgh on Lake Champlain. De Salaberry, an experienced soldier who possessed excellent intelligence with respect to enemy strength and movements, established an obstacle-laden defensive position at a ravine where a creek joined the Chateauguay River. All his forces were raised in Lower Canada. The Canadian Fencibles were considered regulars (although only considered liable for service in North America), the Voltigeurs were ‘volunteers, but considered regulars,’ and the Select Embodied Militia contained some volunteers, but was largely comprised of men drafted by ballot for temporary service of one year. Fearlessly leading his vastly-outnumbered troops from the front, Charles de Salaberry decisively engaged the attacking Americans on 26 October, forcing them to retreat. The results of this battle, and another decisive victory by different defenders at Chrysler’s Farm near Cornwall, persuaded the Americans to call off the invasion of Canada. Of note, legend has it that at Chateauguay, when an American officer rode forward to demand the surrender of the numerically-inferior Canadians, since he had failed to do so under a flag of truce, he was (supposedly) shot down by de Salaberry personally. One must observe the niceties …

Taking the lead in the current issue, Professor Allan English of Queen’s University reviews the lessons learned and the progress made in the Canadian Forces with respect to the care provided to veterans who experience mental health problems in today’s military, compared to what transpired during the so-called ‘Decade of Darkness’ of the 1990s. However, Dr. English warns that today’s economic challenges may generate a new ‘Decade of Darkness’ with respect to Operational Stress Injuries, and he recommends several steps, based upon past lessons learned, to be taken to avoid dealing with unnecessary future challenges.

USAF Colonel Brent Griffin recently completed a four year exchange tour on the Directing Staff of the Canadian Forces College in Toronto. Herein, he discusses the College’s National Security Programme (NSP), a ten-month course of study designed to immerse “… senior officers, Government of Canada executives, and select members of the private sector” in Whole of Government approaches to national defence, as well as the “broader playing field” of national security. While the author highlights the need for a course such as this, he also emphasizes the ‘value added’ of the graduate the programme returns to the system.

   Next, Professor Peter Denton examines the battlespace concept, opines that it is dimensionally and functionally inadequate, and offers an alternative consideration, the concept of the ‘battlesphere.’ This concept, Denton maintains, in terms of identifying conflict parameters and effects, “… enables us to identify and understand the consequences of 21st Century warfare in all its dimensions – physical, social, cultural, environmental and physiological.” He also relates the battlesphere to the ecosphere, “the dynamic relational sphere within which all organic/inorganic systems exist on earth,” and the ethnosphere, “…the sum total of all thoughts and intuitions, myths, and beliefs, ideas and inspirations brought into being by the human imagination,” as a three-sphere dynamic that becomes a better way to explain and manage the inevitable conflicts of this century.

He is followed by Doctor Robert Bunker, a political and behavioural scientist, who discusses Red Teaming as a discipline that is divided into two basic types, analytical and physical. He then offers why both types, when used “to identify, and then simulate ‘suicide bomber threat scenarios,’”are a requirement for the force protection training of deploying Canadian military formations.

Leading off our Military History section, Colonel Christopher Kilford, currently the Canadian Defence Attaché in Turkey provides a brief history of Canada’s Defence Attaché Program from its inauguration in 1945, to include the first two decades following the end of the Second World War. In so doing, Kilford charts the rationale for and utility of this organization, from its first tentative steps, to its attainment of much firmer ground by 1965.

Then, in an exploration of the War of 1812 ‘from the other side of the fence,’ Joseph Miller, a former US Army infantry officer and combat veteran of Iraq, explores the failure of General William Hull to command effectively during the early stages of the invasion of Upper Canada, specifically embodied in his surrender of Detroit to Sir Isaac Brock in 1812. Miller makes an interesting case that suggests Hull’s behaviour, which had been highly heroic and laudable during the American Revolutionary War, may well have been attributable to Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, a condition which has often been viewed as a paradigm of the 20th Century and beyond.

This time out, hopefully we have a diverse quartet of opinion pieces to pique the interest of our equally-diverse readership. Regular Jane’s Defence Weekly correspondent Jim Dorschner explores the requirement to replace the Canadian Forces Fixed Wing Search and Rescue aircraft capability, formally declared in 2004. Jim argues that recent developments now present an opportunity to advance the domestic SAR requirement, and to concurrently add new and improved operational capabilities by acquiring  “… a focused mix of aircraft types.” Next, Christine Vaskovics of the Canadian Forces College in Toronto explores the multiple benefits of web conferencing technology as a tool to “ improve the delivery, and subsequently, the learning experience” of students enrolled in the various distance learning courses of the Joint Command and Staff Programme currently offered at the College. She is followed by communications practitioner and retired Canadian Forces Public Affairs Officer Tim Dunne, who briefly catalogues Canada’s highly significant contributions to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization since NATO’s inception, but suggests that the nation needs to revise its modest and self-deprecating self-image of its contributions. Finally, reservist Dan Doran addresses what he believes are some serious shortcomings with respect to Primary Reserve non-commissioned member (NCM) training in the Canadian Army.

In our Commentary column, our own Martin Shadwick tackles the multi-faceted and complex requirement of reviewing Canada’s current and future defence policy. We then close with an extensive selection of book reviews, as well as a rare (although not precedent-setting) book review essay of one work by two separate reviewers of a publication considered to be of particular relevance to the Canadian Forces.
Until the next time.

David L. Bashow
Canadian Military Journal

Master Corporal Anthony Vail, a Search and Rescue Technician from 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron, 19 Wing Comox, observes a Cormorant helicopter approach a confirmed landing site during an exercise outside Victoria, British Columbia, 27 May 2012.

DND photo IS2012-0019 by Lieutenant Trevor Reid.

Master Corporal Anthony Vail, a Search and Rescue Technician from 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron, 19 Wing Comox, observes a Cormorant helicopter approach a confirmed landing site during an exercise outside Victoria, British Columbia, 27 May 2012.