Military History

An attachés work can be quite varied. Here, Colonel Chris Kilford and Ambassador John T. Holmes plant a tree on the Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey.

DND photo by Sergeant D. Williams

An attachés work can be quite varied. Here, Colonel Chris Kilford and Ambassador John T. Holmes plant a tree on the Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey.

The Early Years –  A Short History of Canada’s Defence Attaché Program 1945-1965

by Christopher Kilford

Colonel Christopher Kilford, CD, PhD, is currently employed as the Canadian Defence Attaché in Turkey, with cross-accreditation to Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkmenistan. In 2009, he completed his PhD at Queen’s University. His dissertation addressed the roles that militaries play in the developing societies, and focused upon Canada’s military assistance to the developing world during the post-colonial period

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At present, 30 Canadian Defence Attachés are deployed in Canada’s Embassies and High Commissions around the world, and, quite often, these senior officers are the only visible representation of our military in the countries in which they serve.1 Their responsibilities are also wide-ranging. Foremost is keeping National Defence Headquarters (NDHQ) up-to-date with respect to security and defence issues in their countries of accreditation and cross-accreditation. In essence, they observe and report. Attachés also provide support to Canadian Forces operations including over-flight clearances, assistance during evacuations and humanitarian operations, and giving advice when major deployments are about to occur. They also manage military bi-lateral assistance programs, and, from time-to-time, assist Canadian defence manufacturers in marketing their products.  Attachés also represent Canada at numerous events and commemorative ceremonies. Lastly, the provision of sound military advice to the ambassador is essential, and, as such, the attaché must fully understand the strategic environment. A certain degree of ease in the local language never hurts, either.

The usefulness of having military attachés can be traced back hundreds of years to a time when officers were attached to foreign militaries, usually during operations, to learn about new weapons and tactics. “It was during the nineteenth century,” wrote J. Mackay Hitsman and Desmond Morton, “that the role of the military attaché reached its highest estate.  With the art of war being transformed by the impact of technology, it was the military attaché, at embassies and with armies in the field, who transmitted the new doctrines of strategy and tactics to their fellow professionals.”2 In particular, they went on to write about Captain Herbert Thacker, Canada’s first defence attaché, who was attached to the Japanese Army during the Russo-Japanese war. 

But what about Canada’s defence attaché program today? How did Canada go from sending Captain Thacker overseas in 1904, to the attaché program currently in being?  Indeed, between 1904 and 1945, apart from service advisors in London and Washington during the Second World War, Canada did not have an attaché organization.  Herein, I will answer the questions posed above, discussing the first tentative steps taken in the post-war period to establish an attaché network, and why, the initial resistance encountered in some quarters to having attachés serve abroad, and how, by 1965, the attaché program found itself on firmer ground. 

Attachés must be well informed about their host’s military forces. Here, Turkish troops march past the reviewing stand during Turkey’s annual Victory Day parade.

DND photo by Colonel C. Kilford

Attachés must be well informed about their host’s military forces. Here, Turkish troops march past the reviewing stand during Turkey’s annual Victory Day parade.

Why did Canada develop its Attaché Program?

As previously mentioned, during the Second World War, Canadian military officers provided a vital link between the Canadian military and their counterparts in London and Washington on service-related issues. But, as the Cold War commenced, there was recognition in Ottawa that more needed to be done when it came to intelligence gathering; employing military attachés was one way to meet this growing demand for information. As a result, in December 1946, the Joint Intelligence Committee, which included members from the three services, Defence Research, External Affairs and the RCMP, presented their recommendations to the Chiefs of Staff Committee with respect to where they thought defence attachés should be located in future. The Committee began by recognizing that Canada could not hope to compete with the United States and the United Kingdom in the “maintenance of a worldwide network for intelligence purposes.”3  However, they went on to say that Canada still had to make, no matter how small, original contributions in the field of intelligence. Doing so would “ensure the receipt of maximum intelligence of all kinds from the United States and United Kingdom.”4 

While expressing a need for original intelligence from the field, the Committee recognized that the capacity to digest information in Ottawa was limited. “We feel,” they said, “that the work of attachés will be valueless unless the intelligence organizations in Ottawa are capable, by virtue of the numbers and quality of their personnel, of dealing with the product of the attachés’ work.”5 When it came to the selection of attachés, the Committee was also clear that not just anyone could do the job. “We consider it of great importance,” they wrote, “that only suitable personnel, who are capable of obtaining intelligence results, should be appointed as attachés, and we recognize the importance of avoiding the appointment of officers by reason only of their seniority of the service concerned.”6

In their report, the Committee went on to provide their detailed recommendations as to where they thought Canadian military attachés should be located and why:

The Soviet Union

In view of the obvious importance of the USSR from an intelligence point of view, we consider that all three Services should be represented in Moscow. At the same time, we recognize that from an intelligence point of view more information can frequently be obtained by means of attachés stationed in countries adjacent to the USSR.  In recognizing that there should be three attachés in Moscow, therefore, it is to some extent contingent on the opportunities which may arise in the future for stationing attachés in Poland, Czechoslovakia or Yugoslavia. A Military Attaché is already stationed in Moscow. While we realize that accommodation is difficult in Moscow, we nonetheless urge that steps should be taken immediately to appoint an Air Attaché.  It is understood that a suitable candidate will be available in the near future. While we also recommend the appointment of a Naval Attaché, it is not considered that the appointment has as high a priority as those of the other two Services. We feel that the Naval requirements might be partially met by an appointment to another country on the periphery of the Soviet Union. It should be noted that the Soviet Mission in Ottawa is considerably larger than the Canadian Mission in Moscow and includes three Military Attachés. We feel that this situation should be stressed when negotiating with the Soviet authorities.


We consider that the attaché posts in China are of primary importance from the point of view of information that may be gathered concerning the Soviet Union, although it is recognized that a study of the Chinese Army is of some importance. There is already a Military Attaché in Nan King, and it is recommended that the post be retained.7


Paris is at present the most important capital in Western Europe, and as such, is an important centre for the gathering of intelligence concerning Western Europe generally and the Soviet Union. Army and Air Attachés already exist, and we recommend that a Naval Attaché be appointed when available.


The terrain and climate of Norway are similar to those of Canada. From the point of view of technical experiments, and the problem of defence generally,much may be learned from close association with the Norwegian Services. This is particularly true of the Norwegian Air Force, which is beginning to experiment with flying in Arctic conditions. We recommend therefore than an Air Attaché be appointed to Oslo. In regard to the Navy and Army, we recognize that the Navy should have second priority, should it be desired to appoint a Naval Attaché. We consider, however, that our views in regard to the appointment of attachés in Oslo would change in the event of a Mission being opened in Stockholm, and we recommend that should a Diplomatic Mission be opened there, that the question of attaché representation in Scandinavia generally be reviewed.


We consider that an attaché of one of the Services should be appointed to the Embassy in Greece. It is considered to be a good listening post for matters concerning the Services of the USSR, and in particular, the Army. We therefore recommend that a Military Attaché be appointed to Greece.  In the event of Missions being opened in Turkey, Yugoslavia or Italy, we feel that the question of priorities should be reconsidered, as the Navy and Air Force have considerable interests in the Central and Eastern Mediterranean.


The appointment of a Military Attaché to Brussels is recommended, as a temporary measure, pending the opening of a Diplomatic Mission in Prague. We consider that Brussels is conveniently situated to obtain information on the views of the military circles of the small Western Powers, in particular, vis-à-vis the Soviet Union.


Mexico is steadily developing, both as a military and a civil air power, and most of the active members of the Armed Forces are tending to concentrate their attention upon developments in the air. Mexico is spending proportionately a large part of its defence appropriation on air facilities, and from present indications, it would seem likely that this appropriation would increase. We therefore consider that an Air Attaché should be appointed to Mexico.

South America

From a Naval point of view, we consider it is important to appoint an attaché in either Brazil or the Argentine, in view of the comparatively small United Kingdom Naval Attaché representation, the general importance of South America as a whole, and the USSR efforts to gain influence there. From an Air Force point of view, the Argentine is considered the most important of the South American countries. We therefore recommend that an Air Attaché be appointed to Buenos Aires, and a Naval Attaché to Rio de Janeiro.

All told, the Joint Intelligence Committee (besides posts already located in London, Moscow, Nan King, Paris, and Washington) recommended that Canada position two more attachés in the Soviet Union, one more in France, and create new positions in Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Greece, Mexico, and Norway.  In almost all cases, the Committee was preoccupied with the Soviet Union, and what useful information Canada could acquire for itself and its allies. 

Turkish M60 tanks drive past during the Victory Day parade.

DND photo by Colonel C. Kilford

Turkish M60 tanks drive past during the Victory Day parade.

External Affairs Weighs in

If Canada was to deploy more attachés around the world, External Affairs was keen to ensure that an agreed-upon terms of reference was in place between itself and the Defence Department. In May 1946, the Acting Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs had already written to the Deputy Minister of National Defence (Army), noting that during the war, “… it was almost inevitable that the Service Attachés at our Missions should find themselves involved in certain tasks which are normally performed by the diplomatic staff of a Mission.” We were, he added, “very grateful for the assistance which the Service Attachés have, during the war, rendered to our Missions but…the time has now come to define more precisely than hitherto the functions of Service Attachés.”9  In his letter, he went on to say:

As I understand it, the purpose in sending a Military Attaché to one of our Missions is to give the Canadian Government a direct source of information concerning the organization, progress, and value of the military forces and military resources of the country to which the Military Attaché is accredited. Any other duties of a social or ceremonial character which a Military Attaché might perform are of secondary importance.

It is, as you say, essential that a Military Attaché should keep himself fully informed on economic conditions and political happenings in the country where he is stationed. Without such knowledge, he cannot properly carry out his duty of interpreting the military efficiency and readiness for war of the country, its preparation for industrial mobilization, and the trend of its military thought. It is therefore important that a Military Attaché should keep in close touch with the political and economic officers of the Mission in order that there should be the maximum exchange of information and opinion on these subjects.10

By October 1946, External Affairs and the Defence Department had finally agreed upon what would be the very first terms of reference for military attachés. These instructions were wide-ranging, and attachés were warned right from the start that they would need to act “… with the greatest circumspection in order to avoid any suspicion that they are endeavouring to secure secret information through illicit means.  Attachés must have no relations whatever with persons acting or professing to act as spies or secret agents.”11  In addition to military matters, they were also told to keep track of economic conditions and political developments, as a comprehensive appreciation of the foreign country’s readiness for war must take account of political stability and industrial strength.”12 Finally, they were directed to stay away of any political, social, and/or religious groups in the host’s armed forces.

While the terms of reference had been agreed upon in Ottawa in October 1946, there was still some way to go in determining where Canada should place its attachés.  As noted previously, the Joint Intelligence Committee made their recommendations in December 1946, but the Chiefs of Staff were not entirely convinced, and External Affairs had some reservations as well. The Joint Intelligence Committee recommendations were considered by the Chiefs of Staff at their 376th meeting, held on 21 January 1947, and it was agreed to approve the plan in principle, but, due to personnel restraints, to hold off on creating new military attaché positions until a later date. 

Lester Pearson, then Under Secretary of State for External Affairs, had his own ideas.  As diplomatic missions to Poland and Czechoslovakia would soon be established, he suggested that one attaché for each country be designated, and should proceed at the same time as the ambassador.  He questioned the usefulness of having attachés in China, Central and South American countries, and Greece as these posts were considered to be a low priority for him.  Pearson also added that as Canada would likely open diplomatic missions in Czechoslovakia, Sweden, Poland, Yugoslavia, Italy, and Turkey in the very near future, the need for attachés for these new posts would have to be addressed.   In March 1947, as the discussion continued as to where best to place attachés, Pearson wrote to the Chief of the Naval Staff regarding a discussion the two had held on the appointment of a Naval Attaché to Warsaw.  “I am,” he said, “most anxious that we do not create the impression that we are appointing diplomatic missions to various countries abroad for the sole purpose of gathering intelligence. You will note that I have suggested to the Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee that it might be more appropriate if they considered the desirability of appointing a Naval Attaché to Stockholm when a diplomatic mission is set up.”14

Attachés have numerous opportunities to visit the armed forces of their host countries. Here, attachés accredited to Turkey go aboard the Turkish frigate TCG Fatih.

DND photo by Colonel S. Lescoutre

Attachés have numerous opportunities to visit the armed forces of their host countries. Here, attachés accredited to Turkey go aboard the Turkish frigate TCG Fatih.

As the Canadian government continued to wrestle with where best to establish diplomatic representation in the post-war period, the Joint Intelligence Committee did its best to keep up.  In July 1947, and in response to the government’s plan to open embassies in Poland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Yugoslavia, and Turkey, the Committee made a new set of recommendations to the Chiefs of Staff:

That a Military Attaché be appointed to Warsaw: The Polish Army is being re-equipped with Soviet equipment and is being organized and trained largely on the Soviet pattern. There are also a considerable number of Soviet officers operating with the Polish forces. In addition, therefore, to reporting on the Polish Army itself, considerable information should be available as to Soviet training methods, organization and equipment. It seems reasonable to expect that more information concerning the Soviet Army would, in fact, be obtained in Poland than could be obtained in Moscow itself.

That an Air Attaché be appointed to Stockholm: Since local administrative conditions preclude the appointment of more than one Service Attaché, it is considered that an Air Attaché should be appointed, for the reasons stated below, although it is noted that the Canadian Army is vitally interested in studying the operations of the Swedish Army in Arctic conditions.  Sweden has extensive scientific research and developmental facilities and is emphasizing the study of nuclear physics and aeronautical research at the present time.  With the exception of Great Britain, France and the Soviet Union, Sweden has the most active Air Force of any other European nation at the present time. There would be opportunities for the study of the operation of the Swedish Air Force in Arctic conditions.  The most recent appreciation of the Joint Intelligence Committee of the possible scale of attack against the North American continent by the Soviet Union concludes that an attack across the polar cap would be the most feasible route by the end of the next ten years. In these circumstances, the study of flying conditions in northern Sweden, which would be similar to the conditions under which the forces of the Soviet Union would have to operate, makes the appointment of an Air Attaché of additional importance.

While it is considered that a Naval Attaché should be appointed to Norway and Denmark, no recommendation is made at the present time, as it is unlikely that the Navy will have a candidate available for some time.

That a Military Attaché be appointed to Yugoslavia: The reasons for recommending this appointment are similar to the reasons outlined in the case of Poland.

That a Naval Attaché be appointed to Turkey: The Turkish Navy at present consists of 1000 officers and 15,000 ratings, and it is being rapidly expanded. In addition, the Soviet Black Sea Fleet is of considerable importance, and from its composition it would appear that the USSR visualizes its eventual use in waters beyond the Black Sea. The importance, therefore, of the maintenance of the status quo in the Dardanelles is substantial from a naval point of view.  However, it might be of interest to note the relative strength of the three Services in Turkey: Army – 489,000, Security Troops – 47,000, Air Force – 26,000, and Navy – 16,000.  In view of this, and the fact that the defence of Turkey, and therefore, the defence of the strategic land-bridge between Europe and the Near-East, is largely the responsibility of the Turkish Army, the Canadian Army has a pronounced interest in Turkey. However, although Turkey’s strategic position would justify the appointment of Naval, Military, and Air Attachés, the initial size of the diplomatic Mission at Ankara would limit, at the outset at least, the number of Attaché appointments to one. In the circumstances, it is considered that a Naval Attaché to Ankara should be appointed, although the equal priority of military and air interest is recognized.15

Attachés are often called upon to take part in ceremonial events.  Here, former defence attaché to France, Colonel Christian Rousseau, with Minister of National Defence Peter MacKay, lay a wreath at Vimy Ridge.

DND photo

Attachés are often called upon to take part in ceremonial events.  Here, former defence attaché to France, Colonel Christian Rousseau, with Minister of National Defence Peter MacKay, lay a wreath at Vimy Ridge.

In response to these recommendations, Ottawa opened several new attaché posts in Eastern Europe, and soon gained a better appreciation of the work being carried out and its overall usefulness.  Indeed, in April 1950, Brooke Claxton, then-Minister of National Defence, wrote to the Cabinet Defence Committee with a new set of recommendations.  In particular, he sought their approval for a number of changes as to where attachés were employed, because it was becoming clear to him that Canada needed to further increase its knowledge of the Soviet Union and its satellites.  Moreover, he stressed the need to provide allies with “… a Canadian pool of information so as to provide some basis for exchange,” while also being able to give an “independent Canadian assessment of the validity of United Kingdom and United States intelligence.”16  The minister’s recommendations regarding the future employment of attachés were based upon an assessment carried out by the military in which they focused on the importance of having attachés in the Soviet Union and its allies:

The Soviet Union

The quantity of information emanating from the Service Attaché in Moscow is admittedly small. However, since the overall information available is comparatively scanty, what is obtained from this source is relatively significant. Furthermore, the Service Attaché in Moscow acts as a member of the U.K. U.S. Canadian team, and both contributes to and draws from the joint pool of information. Since the number of Service Attachés which these other countries can have in Moscow at any one time is limited, the presence of a Canadian Service Attaché is more important than would otherwise be the case. The information obtained is normally the result of personal observation including such photographs of May Day and other parades as can be obtained. It is particularly important, therefore, for each Service to have its own representative in Moscow, since the Air Force cannot observe satisfactorily for the Army, or vice versa. Accordingly, it is proposed that a Military Attaché be appointed to Moscow in addition to the present Air Attaché.


Poland is significant for the following reasons: It is strategically located on the main military route of approach to Western Europe, and it faces Southern Sweden across the Baltic. A major change of disposition, or a build-up of the Soviet forces in this area, may therefore be highly significant. Polish travel restrictions are not as severe as those in effect within the USSR, and Service Attachés can travel about the country and observe both the Soviet and Polish Armies and the Polish Air Force. Poland possesses the largest satellite air force. While its present combat capabilities are meager, it has very close ties with the Soviet Air Force, and is based on the USSR model in respect of organization, tactical doctrines and equipment. The Military Attaché in Poland has been successful in obtaining intelligence on the Soviet Army, of value from the U.K. and U.S. as well as from the Canadian point of view, and the post is considered to be a valuable one for the Army. It is felt that the importance of Poland warrants the addition of an Air Attaché, and that this would materially increase the amount of intelligence coming from this country. 


Czechoslovakia is technically the most advanced and developed ally of the USSR. The organization of its forces, the extent of Soviet control, and the distribution of its arms products are all important. This post not only provided useful Service intelligence on Czechoslovakia, but with a considerable amount of intelligence on other satellite countries and the USSR. Security measures are less effective than in most countries dominated by the Soviets, resulting in additional sources of information and relatively unrestricted travelling opportunities. The information received from the Air Attaché has been generally of high quality and considerable in quantity. The Czechoslovakian post is considered sufficiently important and useful to warrant an Assistant Military Attaché, in addition to the present Air Attaché.17

General Jean Victor Allard as a brigadier-general. He was Canada’s Military Attaché in Moscow from 1946 to 1948

Legion magazine archives

General Jean Victor Allard as a brigadier-general. He was Canada’s Military Attaché in Moscow from 1946 to 1948.

The Need for Attachés – Some Skepticism in External Affairs

When it came to positioning even more attachés in the Soviet Union, there was a high degree of skepticism in External Affairs.  Pearson was not entirely sure if Brigadier-General Jean Allard, the attaché in Moscow from 1946 to 1948, had provided anything of worth.18  J.W. Holmes, Chargé d’Affaires in Moscow, also had “… grave doubts about the value of having a Service Attaché of any kind in Moscow.  There has been little enough for a Service Attaché to do in the past, without resorting to methods which could compromise his Government.”19  L.D. Wilgress, the former Ambassador in Moscow, also took the opportunity, in early-1948, to weigh in on the usefulness of having military attachés in Moscow.  He wrote to Escott Reid at External Affairs that “… not only is it useless to have Service attachés in Moscow because there is nothing for them to do, but it is positively dangerous and the chances are very grave that sooner or later we will be involved in some international incident.”20  “This is particularly the case,” he continued:

…because the Defence Department stubbornly refuse(s) to believe our representatives, who really know Russia, and contend that if they send the right man he will find work to do in Moscow. This means that there is a grave danger that he will do something which, sooner or later, will get us into trouble. Finally, and not unimportant, is the fact that it is very disturbing to the morale of our staff at Moscow to have Service attachés hanging around with nothing to do.  I thought it was my duty to warn you so that perhaps before the men leave for Moscow, they will be cautioned not to do anything which will result in an international incident. This, at least, will serve to absolve our Department from failure to realize the risks we are running in sending to Moscow, men who impress me as being “babes in the woods.”21

Although the former Ambassador’s comments were quite strong, the value of attachés gained ground over the next ten years, and in June 1959, the Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs wrote to General Foulkes about repositioning attachés, so that one could be appointed to New Delhi, and one to Karachi, with cross-accreditation to Tehran. It was noted that India, Pakistan, and Iran were becoming more and more strategically important, and that the militaries in India and Pakistan were now political actors in their own right. There was also concern about the growing influence of the Soviet Union, especially its arms sales to India.  In an attempt to convince Foulkes either to reposition attachés, or add two more to the attaché establishment, the Under-Secretary wrote:

The change of government in Pakistan last autumn has meant that the country is now under a benevolent military government. The views of Pakistani Service officers about the way the government should be conducted in that country are of prime importance in the formulation of Pakistani policy.  A Service Attaché in Pakistan would assist considerably our contacts with Pakistani officers.

The influence of the Indian Chiefs of Staff in Indian government policy is increasing, particularly in the formulation of financial policy in so far as it is related to foreign expenditures for defence purposes. These expenditures, as you know, are substantial. A Service Attaché in New Delhi would make it possible to develop close contacts with Indian officers.

The USSR is trying to tie Indian defence expenditures to the purchase of Soviet equipment.  If the USSR is successful, it would greatly facilitate the spread of Soviet influence in India.  Indian officers would be drawn away from Western influence.  This would be a serious reverse for the non-communist countries and the West generally.

Canada is regarded in India as one of India’s closest friends in the Commonwealth, and in the West. The policy of the Canadian government which has been designed to foster this belief is offset in Service circles in India by the absence of a Service Attaché.22

In his closing remarks, the Under-Secretary warned Foulkes to consider the request to add two more attachés seriously.  “I should not like to see the proposal turned down again,” he wrote, “on a refusal to contemplate an increase in the size of the establishment.”23  

Troops from Azerbaijan undergo basic communications training prior to their deployment to Afghanistan.

DND photo by Colonel C. Kilford

Troops from Azerbaijan undergo basic communications training prior to their deployment to Afghanistan.


If Foulkes, and, no doubt, his Service Chiefs, were reluctant to send more attachés overseas, some in the military were interested in moving forward.  In early-1961, for example, a sub-committee of the Vice Chiefs of Staff Committee prepared a report on what support attachés might render the Government in furthering arms sales.  The discussion centered on a memorandum received from the Deputy Minister, who requested the Committee consider having attachés engage in “periodic exchanges of information on potential equipment sales possibilities” with Defence Production officers.24 The Canadian Army, however, had already instructed their attachés to do their utmost to support arms sales.  In fact, they were told that they were “in an excellent position to further the aims of this program in their countries of accreditation and should enthusiastically assist the Trade Commissioner.”25 

For External Affairs, the deployment of military attachés, offers of military assistance and arms sales were seen in the post-war period as a means to increase Canada’s international stature.  But while External Affairs might have recognized the growing need for attachés, the military believed that satisfying their commitments to NATO, and later NORAD, to be higher priorities.  As far as the military was concerned, sending a colonel overseas was an expensive proposition in a time when defence budgets were coming under closer scrutiny.  Nevertheless, by 1965, and despite inter-departmental wrangling, attaché posts (excluding London and Washington) were established in Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Egypt, France, Ghana, Germany, India, Italy, Israel, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Pakistan, Poland, Sweden, Turkey, the Soviet Union, and Yugoslavia.26  Some 45 years later most of these attaché posts are still operating, while a few have moved on for various reasons.  More importantly, new posts have been added, especially in Asia and the Americas, as successive Canadian governments responded to the changing strategic environment.    

In this day and age, defence attachés, like their predecessors, are highly experienced individuals with a wide-ranging knowledge of military, national and international affairs.  They are on call 24 hours a day, and, with their spouses, they take part in a very demanding social life, representing Canada during numerous public occasions.  A key strategic asset for the Canadian Forces, Canada’s military attachés also provide policymakers in Ottawa with time-sensitive, valuable information about day-to-day and long term issues in their countries of accreditation and cross-accreditation.  In the current strategic context, their presence on the ground in such places as Beirut, Egypt, Libya, Mali, and Turkey has proven invaluable in formulating Canada’s response to frequent international crises.  No doubt, those who drafted the first terms of reference for Canada’s defence attachés in 1946 would be pleased to see how far the program has progressed.

NOTES (All classified sources have since been declassified – Ed.)
  1.    The 30 Attachés, mostly all colonels, cover 132 countries.  They are supported by sergeants (administrative assistants), and sometimes by a second officer. Many countries have employed military attachés long before Canada’s program commenced. For example, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk was appointed as the Turkish military attaché to Bulgaria in 1913.

  2.    J. Mackay Hitsman and Desmond Morton, “Canada’s First Military Attaché:  Capt. H.C. Thacker in the Russo-Japanese War,” in Military Affairs, Volume 34, Number 3, October 1970, p. 82.  Thacker, an artillery officer, rose to become Chief of the General Staff from 1 June 1927 until 31 December 1928.

  3.   Canada, DFAIT, Memorandum, “Secretary, Joint Intelligence Committee to the Secretary, Chiefs of Staff Committee,” 14 December 1946, 1.  Documents on Canadian External Relations (DCER), Vol. 12 – 11, Chapter 1 (DEA/50037-40, Secret, Conduct of External Relations), Part 1, Section B – Administration, Military Attachés. 

  4.   Ibid, p. 1.

  5.  Ibid.

  6.   Ibid.

  7.   Given that this report was written in late-1946, I am assuming that the attaché in China deployed in 1946 in support of the Nationalist Chinese government to which Canada was supplying large amounts of military equipment.  For more information on Canadian arms sales and military assistance during this period see: C.R. Kilford, The Other Cold War – Canada’s Military Assistance to the Developing World 1945-1975.  Kingston, Canadian Defence Academy Press, 2010.

  8.   Canada, DFAIT, Memorandum, “Secretary, Joint Intelligence Committee to the Secretary, Chiefs of Staff Committee,” 14 December 1946, 1.  Documents on Canadian External Relations (DCER), Vol. 12 – 11, Chapter 1 (DEA/50037-40, (Secret), Conduct of External Relations), Part 1, Section B – Administration, Military Attachés.

  9.   Canada, DFAIT, Memorandum, “Acting Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs to the Deputy Minister of National Defence (Army),” 14 May 1946, 1.  DCER, Vol. 12 – 8, Chapter 1 (DEA/50037-40, (Confidential), Conduct of External Relations), Part 1, Section B – Administration, Military Attachés. 

  10. Ibid, p. 1.

  11. Canada, DFAIT, Dispatch, “Secretary of State for External Affairs to Chargé d’Affaires in China” 30 October 1946, 1.  DCER, Vol. 12 – 9, Chapter 1 (DEA/50037-40, (Secret), Conduct of External Relations), Part 1, Section B – Administration, Military Attachés.

  12. Ibid, p. 1.

  13. Canada, DFAIT, Memorandum, “Secretary, Chiefs of Staff Committee to the Secretary, Joint Intelligence Committee,” 25 January 1947, 1.  DCER, Vol. 13 – 5, Chapter 1 (DEA/50037-40, (Secret), Conduct of External Relations), Part 1, Section B – Administration, Military Attachés. 

  14. Canada, DFAIT, Memorandum, “Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs
    to the Chief of the Naval Staff,” 7 March 1947, 1.  DCER, Vol. 13 – 7, Chapter 1 (DEA/50037-40-1, (Secret), Conduct of External Relations), Part 1, Section B – Administration, Military Attachés. 

  15. Canada, DFAIT, Memorandum, “Chairman, Sub-Committee, Joint Intelligence Committee
    to the Chairman, Joint Intelligence Committee,” 3 July 1947, 1.  DCER, Vol. 14 – 8, Chapter 1 (DEA/50037-40-1, (Secret), Conduct of External Relations), Part 2, Section B – Administration, Military Attachés. 

  16. Canada, DFAIT, Memorandum, “Minister of National Defence to the Cabinet Defence Committee,” 21 April 1950, 1.  DCER, Vol. 16 – 9, Chapter 1 (PCO, Cabinet Document D246, (Secret), Conduct of External Relations), Part 1, Disposition of Service Attachés. 

  17. Ibid.  Annex A, 21 April 1950, Service Attaché Requirements.

  18. Canada, DFAIT, “Extract from Minutes of Meeting of Chiefs of Staff Committee,”1948, 1.  DCER, Vol. 14 – 8, Chapter 1 (DEA 226 (S), (Top Secret), Conduct of External Relations), Part 2, Section B – Service Attachés in the Soviet Union.  Brigadier-General Allard went on to become the Chief of Defence Staff between 1966 and 1969.

  19. Canada, DFAIT, Letter, “Chargé d’Affaires in Soviet Union to Assistant Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs,”18 March 1948, 1.  DCER, Vol. 14 – 12, Chapter 1 (DEA 291 (S), (Secret), Conduct of External Relations), Part 2, Section B – Service Attachés in the Soviet Union.

  20. Canada, DFAIT, Letter, “Delegate to Preparatory Committee of International Refugee Organization to the Assistant Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs,” April1948, 1.  DCER, Vol. 14 – 13, Chapter 1 (C.H. Vol 27, Conduct of External Relations), Part 2, Section B – Service Attachés in the Soviet Union.

  21. Ibid., p. 1.

  22. Canada, DND, Letter, “Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs to the Chairman, Chiefs of Staff,” 24 June 1959 (Ottawa, DND, DHH, Box 209, File 425, Service Attachés, 2-4).  The Chiefs of Staff had considered an earlier request by External Affairs in January 1959 to position an attaché in New Delhi and one in Karachi but had rejected the proposal. 

  23. Ibid., p. 4.

  24. Canada, DND, “54th Meeting of the Vice Chiefs of Staff Committee,” 23 May 1961, p. 2.  (Ottawa: DND, DHH, Series V: Vice Chiefs of Staff Committee, Box 26, File 8).

  25. Ibid., p. 2.

  26. With regard to these posts, General Foulkes wrote in 1958 that each one had been broadly classed as either an intelligence post or a representational post.  In this latter category were Belgium, France, Italy and the Netherlands.  However, he did acknowledge that even in these posts useful intelligence information could be obtained.  See: Canada, DND, Letter, “Chairman, Chiefs of Staff to the Minister of National Defence,” 8 December 1958 (Ottawa, DND, DHH, Box 208, File 424, Service Attachés, p. 1.