Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Rebirth of the Canadian military

Canada's Chief of Defence Staff General Rick Hillier, who I mentioned here earlier, isn't too popular with the elites in his country, stemming from an age-old malady of actually being good at his job. Some in the country would rather their military forces return to being "shock troops" for UN peacekeeping missions, as is Canada's tradition, but others disagree including Christie Blatchford:

Consider what Colonel George Petrolekas, a veteran soldier now on unpaid leave who is also a friend of Gen. Hillier's (and fiercely loyal), has to say about one of the missions ... Bosnia.Col. Petrolekas was there in 1993 as part of the United Nations' protection force.

"The mission was for the delivery of humanitarian aid to villages," he says, "and thus the rules did not allow the international force to stop abuses of humanity that can only be termed aberrant.

"Early in my tour in 1993, a village of 280 [this was the village of Vares] was butchered and not a word was said, not a thing was done. There were so many such events that I saw soldiers cry at the frustration of not being able to do the right thing."

She ends with this description of Gen. Hillier:

The truth is, Gen. Hillier has presided over what amounts to the rebirth of the Canadian military. I don't speak purely in terms of budgets, armaments and missions, either; what he has really done is make it respectable again to be a soldier in this country. Under his leadership, there has been something of a cultural shift such that soldiers are no longer made to feel vaguely ashamed for being soldiers.

I posted this because I see many similarities in our own country over the proper role of the armed forces in the 21st Century. Some would have us return to a deterrent strategy, with the threat of force taking place of the actual use of military power to take out rogue regimes and terrorist groups, sort of "speak loudly and carry a small stick". I saw this in the Navy's recent Maritime Strategy and consider it a dangerous mindset not based on the reality of the times, and which won't keep us safe from a recurring 9/11 or worse. Some though, like Canada's Hillier, and those currently defeating the radicals in Iraq and Afghanistan, rightly see the need of going into the nests of the enemies of Civilization and actually killing them, before they spread their oppressive ideology to free nations.