Vanguard Magazine

Aug/Sep 2013

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

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T The Last Word Scott Taylor is the editor and publisher of Esprit de Corps Canadian Military Magazine, an award-winning documentary filmmaker and the author of eight books, including his 2010 memoir, Unembedded: Two Decades of Maverick War Reporting. A looming challenge for new leadership T that will soon pose the greatest challenge to senior leadership. he Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) is entering into a new After more than a decade-long commitment to the war in Afera with an almost entirely revamped senior management ghanistan, come March 2014, when the final rotation of trainteam. After nearly seven tumultuous years at the political ers withdraws from Kabul, the CAF will essentially be without a helm, Defence Minister Peter MacKay swapped portfolios with mission. Other than a handful of troops deployed to Haiti and Justice Minister Rob Nicholson in the July cabinet shuffle. another couple of dozen in far-flung UN peacekeeping missions, A veteran politician with roots dating back to the Progressive our entire military will be back in Canada. Conservative government of Brian Mulroney, Nicholson is far less While this may seem like a godsend to our war-weary troops of a showboat than the outgoing MacKay. Despite standing at the and their emotionally-drained families in top of the Justice Department for the same the short term, it will also be detrimental duration, Nicholson rarely found himself in Without a doubt, it in that it will reduce the sense of purpose the public spotlight. Although cabinet ministers may be the will be the operational which the war in Afghanistan generated. Troops training to deploy into an actual public face, or figurehead of their departelement of the CAF combat zone are far more motivated to ment, those familiar with how things work hone their skills than those who conduct in the federal government know that the real that will soon pose power lies within the bureaucracy. Thus, an the greatest challenge peacetime manoeuvres against a fictitious enemy force of "Fantasians" at minus fifty even more important, albeit far less heralded, to senior leadership. degrees. changing of the guard took place on May 13, While there have been numerous military 2013, when Deputy Minister Robert Fonboondoggles and embarrassing acquisition scandals – the ongoberg was replaced by Richard Fadden. While it is widely known ing procurement saga of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the still that Fonberg is averse to both media scrutiny and outside overnot delivered Cyclone helicopters and the army's much-delayed sight of his department, as the former head of CSIS, Fadden has medium-sized logistics truck purchases, to name just three – the brought DND an enhanced desire for even more secrecy. fact is, as long as Canadian troops were in harm's way in AfghaniFor the uniformed senior leadership of the Canadian Forces, the stan, there was a political impetus to ensure critical equipment was very pomp and ceremony upon which the traditions of the instituacquired in a very timely fashion. tion are built denies them the luxury of operating below the radar. With the media spotlight switched off, the Afghanistan mission General Tom Lawson replaced retired Chief of the Defence Staff concluded, and the CAF relegated to training and maintaining, Walt Natynczyk just last December. In July, LGen Peter Devlin some military analysts have predicted a return to what was later handed off command of the Canadian Army to LGen Marquis proclaimed to be a "decade of darkness." The problem with that Hainse, and VAdm Mark Norman took control of the Royal Caanalogy is that during the 1990s, when those damaging cutbacks nadian Navy from retiring VAdm Paul Maddison. and reductions were implemented, the Canadian military was acRoyal Canadian Air Force commander LGen Yvan Blondin is tually engaged in a steady stream of very high-profile peacekeepjust one year into his tenure. The one pillar of continuity is LGen ing deployments. With troops in the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Stuart Beare. Having been the commander of the Canadian ExSomalia, Cambodia, Western Sahara, Kosovo and East Timor, peditionary Force Command (CEFCOM) since 2011, Beare was there were often more soldiers deployed overseas at one time than well-positioned to oversee the massive organizational transformaat any point during the Afghanistan commitment. tion which rolled Canada Command, Canadian Joint Support In other words, the challenge facing the newly-appointed senior Command and CEFCOM all into the single entity known as Caleadership at DND is even greater than the crisis of the '90s. This nadian Joint Operations Command (CJOC). time, they may really be in the dark. Without a doubt, it will be the operational element of the CAF 46 AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2013

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