Editorís Corner

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Welcome again to yet another frosty winter edition of the Canadian Military Journal. That said, as these words are being penned from the Hurricane (Superstorm) Sandy-ravaged north-eastern corner of the continent, I believe that all of us in this particular ‘neck of the woods’ are looking forward to some relatively predictable environmental behaviour for the upcoming season in the Great White North.

In this issue, we close our cover commemorative series of the War of 1812 in North America with Charles William Jefferys’ 1908 depiction of the death of Major General Sir Isaac Brock, Knight of the Bath (KB), at Queenston Heights in October 1812.

After Brock’s resounding victory at Fort Detroit, embodied in General William Hull’s surrender to Brock on 16 August, American national honour was shaken, and their military launched a full-scale response against Queenston Heights on the Niagara peninsula two months later. After crossing the Niagara River, the invading American force was pinned down below the cliffs that led to the Heights themselves. However, this force of approximately 1200 managed to discover a fisherman’s path up the cliff, and they subsequently captured the Heights and took possession of the upper ground. Sir Isaac immediately attempted to recapture the high ground. “He felt that Queenston Heights was the key to Upper Canada; if it fell, the province would quickly follow.[However,] Brock’s distinctive scarlet uniform made him a natural target, and a sniper shot him in the middle of the chest, killing him instantly.”1

As it materialized, a native band led by Joseph Brant’s son John and his adopted nephew, John Norton, attacked the Americans repeatedly, then, bolstered by British reinforcements, they mounted a spirited attack, driving the Americans back to the brink of a mountain that overhangs the river, where the invaders fell in numbers. There would be no support forthcoming from American forces massed on the other side of the river. “Their capitulation was finally recognized in time to avert a wholesale slaughter. Nine hundred and twenty-five Americans surrendered, and there were two hundred and fifty casualties. On the Canadian side there were only fourteen dead and seventy-seven wounded. But one of the dead was Isaac Brock, a grievous loss. An ambitious soldier and brilliant tactician, he had personified the Canadian resistance, an elegant symbol of defiance.”2

On a much lighter note, on 29 October this year in Ottawa, His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada, presided over the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) change of command ceremony between the outgoing chief, General Walter Natynczyk, and the incoming chief, General Thomas Lawson. During the event, His Excellency noted that ‘General Walt,’ as he is affectionately and respectfully known throughout the Department and the Canadian Forces since assuming the role of CDS in 2008, “… has shown extraordinary leadership, vision and humanity… that in leading the Canadian Forces as an institution, the Chief of the Defence Staff is also a leader of people, and in this, he grasps an essential truth of the Canadian military.” ‘General Walt’ has always been supportive of the Canadian Military Journal, and we here at CMJ want to take this opportunity to wish him and his wife Leslie all the best that life has to offer as they head into retirement. I am now taking a little editorial licence by re-printing below my favourite picture of the general, taken during a visit to Halifax in 2009, since I feel it really captures General Natynczyk’s love of people, large and small.

General Natynczyk with Sea Cadets

DND photo HS2009-0315-034 by Master Corporal Robin Mugridge

General Natynczyk with Sea Cadets

General Tom Lawson now takes the CDS helm after many years of varied and distinguished service, most recently as the Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD). Our paths have crossed many times over the years, both as fellow fighter pilots and in the course of various staff duties. Best of all, I am honoured to call him a friend, and we at the CMJ wish him and his wife Kelly all the best as he embarks upon this exceptionally important call to service.

At table L to R: General Lawson, Governor General Johnston, General Natynczyk

DND photo GG2012-0582-040 by Sergeant Ronald Duchesne

At table L to R: General Lawson, Governor General Johnston, General Natynczyk

And now, very briefly, on to the current issue. Vice-Admiral Paul Maddison, the current Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy, ‘takes the point’ with a discussion of international strategic trust and cooperation in this maritime century from a senior Canadian sailor’s perspective. Admiral Maddison stresses the extremely complex, ambiguous and “legally constrained” working environment that challenges today’s military operations, with particular emphasis upon  operations “… in that relatively narrow zone astride the world’s coastlines where the vast majority of humanity resides – the littorals.”  He is followed by Captain (N) [ret’d] Alan Okros, Deputy Director of Academics at the Canadian Forces College, who discusses a new leadership initiative recently embraced by the CF, the Command Team, the combination of Commander and his senior Chief Warrant Officer (or equivalent). While the article presents a strong endorsement of this initiative, Okros opines that some of the definitions contained therein can be “… professionally confusing and ultimately doctrinally dangerous,” and he offers suggestions to address those doctrinal conflicts.

Next, the Canadian Defence Academy’s Doctor Rick Monaghan discusses language training, standards, and interoperability within the NATO alliance. Specifically, Rick homes in on the “… little understood Bureau for International Language Coordination (BILC).  This short history of BILC will look at the early years and the efforts to set linguistic standards, the expansion of BILC following the collapse of the Berlin Wall, and the challenges facing the organization in the next decade.”  Professor Michael Byers, the Canada Research Chair in Global Politics and International Law at the University of British Columbia, then argues that, with the termination of the combat role in Afghanistan, peacekeeping should represent a greater proportion of Canada’s discretionary military operations than is currently the case. “To that end, I question some of the arguments made in favour of Canada’s disengagement from peacekeeping by examining them within an updated context, since much has changed during the last decade, including in the way in which the UN approaches peacekeeping.”  Next, Padre (ret’d) Steven Moore discusses the Religious Leader Engagement (RLE) initiative as “… a successful form of civic engagement in active combat zones, in peace support operations, with its emphasis on stability and reconstruction, and in post-conflict environments, where brokered cease-fires led to mission mandates enforcing fledgling peace agreements between former belligerents.” In the last of our major articles for this issue, history graduate student Raphaël Dallaire Ferland “… explores the patriotic sentiment and the allegiances” expressed within Canada’s 22nd Batallion, the fabled ‘Vandoos,’ during the First World War. Specifically, the author examines how these soldiers viewed their mother country, France, their adopted mother country, Britain, their homeland, Canada, and their French-Canadian nation.

Finally, we offer a brace of opinion pieces, Martin Shadwick’s regular thought-provoking commentary, this time on the concept of Canada as a warrior nation, and close with a healthy selection of book reviews to pique the interest of our readership.

Until the next time.
David L. Bashow
Canadian Military Journal  

Standing L to R: General Lawson, Governor General Johnston, General Natynczyk

DND photo IS2012-1034-10 by Sergeant Matthew McGregor   

Standing L to R: General Lawson, Governor General Johnston, General Natynczyk



  1. Don Gilmor & Pierre Turgeon, Canada - A People's History (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 2000), p. 168.

  2. Ibid., p. 169.