Vanguard Magazine

Feb/Mar 2013

Preserving capacity, General Tom Lawson, Chief of the Defence Staff, Keys to Canadian SAR

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E editor's note EDITOR Chris Thatcher CONTRIBUTORS Martin Forgues Ian Coutts Stefan Dubowski Lee Carson Andrea Charron Carol Dobson Jordan Thompson David McDonough EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD LGen (Ret'd) Bill Leach LGen (Ret'd) George Macdonald VAdm (Ret'd) Greg Maddison LGen (Ret'd) Michel Maisonneuve Ambassador Graham Green Professor Philippe Lagassé SALES VICE PRESIDENT PUBLIC SECTOR SALES Terri Pavelic (905) 727-4091 ext. 225 National Account Manager Marcello Sukhdeo (905) 727-4091 ext. 224 MARKETING DIRECTOR Mary Malofy ART & PRODUCTION ART DIRECTOR Elena Pankova SUBSCRIPTIONS AND ADDRESS CHANGES CIRCULATION DIRECTOR James Watson (705) 812-0611 CORPORATE PUBLISHER John R. Jones Publisher's Mail Agreement: 40052410 Return undeliverable Canadian addresses to circulation dept. 24-4 Vata Court, Aurora, ON L4G 4B6 Vanguard magazine is published 6 times per year by Promotive Communications Inc. All opinions expressed herein are those of the contributors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher or any person or organization associated with the magazine. Letters, submissions, comments and suggested topics are welcome, and should be sent to REPRINT INFORMATION: Reproduction or photocopying is prohibited without the publisher's prior written consent. High quality reprints of articles and additional copies of the magazine are available through PRIVACY POLICY: We do not sell our mailing list or share any confidential information on our subscribers. VANGUARD OFFICE 24-4 Vata Court, Aurora, ON L4G 4B6 Phone: (905) 727-4091 Fax: (905) 727-4428 The value of COIN There is an intriguing debate unfolding in the United States over the utility of counterinsurgency, otherwise known as COIN. Its apparent success in Iraq and apparent failure in Afghanistan, at least in the eyes of some American commentators, has devalued its currency. As after Vietnam, there is little appetite today for the long wars of counterinsurgency, and therefore much debate about the necessity of training for the nuances of such exhaustive campaigns. Yet it's a skill set that should not be lost. As Fred Kaplan writes in a review of the age of David Patraeus for Foreign Affairs, "[f]ew U.S. presidents have plunged into a counterinsurgency on purpose, yet it still tends to happen, one way or another, every generation or so – at intervals just long enough for the lessons of the last such war to be forgotten." Standing on a shipping container in the open grassland of Wainwright, Alberta as he watched soldiers prepare for a tour in Afghanistan in 2009, LGen (Ret'd) Andrew Leslie, then the commander of the Canadian Army, remarked that Canadians actually do COIN well. Whether it is their age, the multicultural cities in which many of them are raised, or their life experiences and training, Canadian soldiers have shown a certain aptitude for the principles of COIN, he said. James O'Neil, then a captain with experience in Bosnia and Kosovo preparing for his first tour of Afghanistan, acknowledged that learning the nuances of a comprehensive approach that involved not only countering insurgent manoeuvres but also building relationships with village elders and working with other government organizations was a new challenge. "I'm not only doing the combat role, I'm like a father on the ground trying to organize this, deal with that," he observed. In an interview in 2010, then BGen Jonathan Vance, who had recently served as commander of Joint Task Force in Afghanistan, spoke of Canada's approach to counterinsurgency as perhaps more mature than some others and one that would serve the country well in the future. "What we've learned here will stand us in good stead in future warfare. It's likely we will deal in failed and failing states that have many of the societal ills that are present in Afghanistan...There is a whole generation of military and civilian leaders who have lived Afghanistan, who understand the horsepower and incredible value our team can bring to bear." In this issue, LGen Peter Devlin describes a Canadian Army positioning itself for a future environment of networked, adaptive dispersed operations. And within that concept of Force 2021 is a recognition of the role counterinsurgency might play. "We have designed and implemented a contemporary training environment, one that is way beyond counterinsurgency and very respectful of those challenges of tomorrow," he explains. Key to that has been preserving the enablers acquired in Afghanistan, among them the Influence Activities Task Force capability. As Martin Forgues, a former PSYOPS operator, writes in a separate article, "[d]eveloping IA expertise...has made the Canadian Forces a leader in the field. However, it came at the price of several combat casualties within PSYOPS/CIMIC units – the CF must not lose that momentum." Historically, irregular warfare has been the norm rather than the anomaly. And the hot spots of today all suggest conflict among the people. Maintaining and enhancing the skills to operate successfully in such complex environments is a necessity. Chris Thatcher, Editor 4 FEBRUARY/MARCH 2013 2717 GD

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