Wednesday, 28 November 2012


 The Canadian Armed Forces are, for better or worse, now entering a period of what for lack of a better word we call peace.  This state of affairs probably has as much to do with the Governments attempts to balance the budget and the reluctance of the populace to see body bags coming home as it does with the security of the Dominion or the situation in the rest of the world.

Be that as it may, it is a reality our military will have to deal with. Oddly enough the military never has any trouble recruiting during times of war. As the fighting in Afghanistan proved, there is never a shortage of young people willing to test themselves in war.  In fact recruiting the right type of people can be a challenge in times of peace.

Who are the right types of people?  In the crucible of war it is relatively easy to determine who is doing well and who is not.  As complicated as war is, and it is easily the most complicated thing human beings attempt, some things actually become simpler in wartime.  Determining good soldiers is one of them.

Achieving military objectives on  =  Good
time with minimal casualties.

Not achieving objectives and/or    =  Bad
having high casualties.

 Peacetime is different. More often then not during peacetime different standards apply and a different mindset is more common. In this environment the calculation looks something like this.

Having all the troops with           =  Good
Buttons properly shined.

Boots not laced in accordance     =  Bad
with latest bulletin/directive 23
/rule 8/see paragraph 4.7

This is the kind of environment in which the same people who were so good for the organization in time of war either leave or accept that their skills will be under appreciated. 

It is important that the corporate memory of what real war is like not be lost. As long as enough of the right people can be kept in the Armed Forces during times of peace then they will inevitably find their way to the fore when times change.

Inevitably it seems that the careerists and the bureaucratic empire builders will rise to the top during the interregnums between wars. Equally inevitably history shows us that the warriors, the Arthur Curries and the Smokey Smiths, will be found when the fighting starts.

As well as maintaining that corporate memory of what the reality of their profession is about, the Canadian Armed Forces must maintain the flexibility to allow those whose real profession is war to be moved quickly into positions of authority when the time comes to dispense with the place holders who will undoubtedly proliferate during the merciful peace to come.