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Offline E.R. Campbell

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The lack of leadership
« on: August 13, 2005, 13:25:07 »
Here is an interesting article by Senator Colin Kenny, chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on National Security and Defence, from today's Ottawa Citizen.  My emphasis added.

http://www.canada.com/ottawa/ottawacitizen/news/opinion/story.html?id=769bdb68-c4eb-4c1e-9c08-69acf3c2e177
Quote
The lack of leadership
Canada's politicians have failed in their duty to tell Canadians and the military why we're in Afghanistan

Colin Kenny
Citizen Special

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Canada is sending 2,000 troops to Kandahar, one of the most volatile regions of Afghanistan, replete with warlords, drug runners, terrorists and fellow travellers. But our troops should not be going there without 32 million other Canadians firmly behind them.

These warriors desperately need the support of their government and of the citizens of the country whose interests they are advancing. That's what war is all about: advancing the interests of the people of your nation. That's us.

If these soldiers -- most of them very young -- and their families are going to get the support they deserve, someone is going to have to explain to Canadians exactly why we are in Kandahar, how long we expect to be there, what we believe we can accomplish there, and at what cost.

This is the responsibility of the Canadian government. If the government is not clear and forthright about its rationale for putting young Canadians in harm's way in Kandahar, and if its analysis of what can be accomplished there is not correct, the troops will not get the national support that any bunch of scared kids need, no matter how tough they are.

Canadians are wary of war. Most of them didn't want to go anywhere near Iraq, and they have been proven right. But when it comes to Afghanistan, most of us seem more sleepy than curious about what is likely to happen there.

It's a little late to wake up when the first body bags start coming home.

The government shouldn't wait until then. If it believes it has the right motives for being in Afghanistan and a sound analysis of what it wants to -- and can -- accomplish there, it should be putting its position forward and the whole cabinet should be working as a team to call on Canadians to support it.

We should have had a national debate about the validity of our mission in Afghanistan. So far, the government has pretty well left it to military commanders and military analysts to moot what the government might have in mind.

Maj.-Gen. Andrew Leslie, one of Canada's top generals, was quoted on Monday as calling Canada's mission in Afghanistan a 20-year venture. And he said the commitment was necessary: "There are things worth fighting for. There are things worth dying for. There are things worth killing for."

Indeed, there are such things. There is no doubt that Canada should play its part in attempting to suppress terrorism in particular, and global instability in general. We have to be part of the team fighting to do this; we can't leave it up to our friends and allies. But is Afghanistan the right place for us to be contributing? And, if it is, what kind of contribution is most likely to be both useful and possible? What can we Canadians hope to accomplish there? What will it cost us?

Chris Alexander, Canada's ambassador to Afghanistan, told me it would take five generations to turn Afghanistan into a civil society within a workable state. Really? Are Canadians up for a long-term commitment to a society that drove both the British and Soviets into full retreat?

We're up against a bag of snakes. The thugs who have been exploiting Afghans for centuries know their territory well, know how to retreat into obscure, mountainous places when things heat up, have a terrified population as a support group, are motivated by greed or zealotry or both, and have endless patience. Much more patience than western societies have for waging wars that may turn out to be endless, or unwinnable.

How can we "win" in Afghanistan, in terms that any Canadian would describe as any kind of genuine victory, worth the cost?

I see two options. The first is to hit and run. We, along with our allies, send troops and bombing missions in from time to time to break up training camps and try to keep the terrorist threat off balance. There isn't a lot of risk -- within the military's definition of risk -- to this approach, but the gains are also likely to be minimal. There would be little disruption to the drug trade that helps finance the terrorists and no winning of hearts and minds of the people we are trying to sell on the merits of western-style democracy.

Or we can get ***-deep into nation-building. The Americans are notorious for storming in, winning bloody battles, and then failing to put forth the resources to sustain the peace. Canada's new defence policy commits our country to "Triple-D": defence, diplomacy and development. It recognizes that failed states require more than military assistance to resuscitate them.

How do you define success with such a policy? Ambassador Alexander in Kabul defined it as putting an elected president in place (which has been done), putting an elected assembly in place (coming this year), and approximately tripling the average annual income of Afghans to $1,000 a year to supplant the country's dependence on poppies.

His last criterion may be a pipe dream -- I expect those poppies to be growing long after I'm gone. But even if it weren't a pipe dream, these accomplishments fall short of what constitutes success.

That success -- if it is possible -- will take what amounts to Triple-D "Plus." To help create a sustainable, civilized society, somebody is going to have to plow resources into Afghanistan to help with health care, the judiciary, alternative agriculture, energy, irrigation, and so on. What is required is massive, and there would be no guarantee of the kind of success that the Marshall Plan in Europe enjoyed after the Second World War. There, we were dealing with industrialized, literate populations with democratic histories. In Afghanistan, we are not.

Could it ever, within the bounds of reasonable developmental investment, be made to work? Are Canadians up for such a mammoth effort in such a far-off land, even if there were some prospect of making it work? If we're not fully committed to defence, diplomacy and development in Afghanistan, does deploying our young men and women into such dangerous territory really make sense?

These are all legitimate questions, and I am looking to my government for answers.

Polls shortly after the U.S. invasion of Iraq showed that a large majority of Americans thought that particular war made good sense. Two years later, the majority believe otherwise. They have their reasons.

Washington built the case for its deployment on fallacious arguments. Canada should make its case for being in Afghanistan with integrity, telling us why, telling us how, and telling us what the cost is likely to be.

The federal government must tell us that we are not just in there replacing American troops so those American troops can be shifted to Iraq.

Being up front about why you're at war is called political leadership. It's what our soldiers and their families deserve, and it's what 32 million Canadians must have if they are to believe that this dangerous mission is being fought on their behalf and if they are going to cast aside their reservations about throwing their support behind it.

Honesty, clarity and wisdom will win the day.

Senator Colin Kenny is chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on National Security and Defence.

E-mail: kennyco@sen.parl.gc.ca

© The Ottawa Citizen 2005

It is ill that men should kill one another in seditions, tumults and wars; but it is worse to bring nations to such misery, weakness and baseness
as to have neither strength nor courage to contend for anything; to have nothing left worth defending and to give the name of peace to desolation.
Algernon Sidney in Discourses Concerning Government, (1698)
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Offline 54/102 CEF

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Re: The lack of leadership
« Reply #1 on: August 13, 2005, 13:38:23 »
What`s all this war talk?  :o


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Offline SF2

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Re: The lack of leadership
« Reply #2 on: August 13, 2005, 14:39:55 »
*Putting Flame Suit on*

This is why we need a Commander in Chief who isn't, well, a journalist.

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Re: The lack of leadership
« Reply #3 on: August 13, 2005, 15:03:15 »
If Canadians want to ***** and criticize how something should be done in Afghanistan and how they should adopt democratic values then we need a Military presence. But if they want us out of there, then they should shut their pie holes up, your either in the game or your out, money doesn't solve all problems. Anyways, just my thought! :salute: :cdn:

Offline silentbutdeadly

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Re: The lack of leadership
« Reply #4 on: August 13, 2005, 16:03:06 »
i don't think he is taking a swipe at the military, but i do agree with him on the fact that our leaders in Ottawa should prep the Canadian public on the fact that in Feb 06 we are sending roughly 1500 troops that are not going to be a PRT, instead of hiding the fact till the last min. I think our PM and his *** kissers think the Canadian public are to senstive and must be cuddled and yes some are, but if you come up with a intell reason for us being there, then i think they will understand.

Offline pbi

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Re: The lack of leadership
« Reply #5 on: August 14, 2005, 07:59:42 »
i don't think he is taking a swipe at the military, but i do agree with him on the fact that our leaders in Ottawa should prep the Canadian public on the fact that in Feb 06 we are sending roughly 1500 troops that are not going to be a PRT, instead of hiding the fact till the last min. I think our PM and his *** kissers think the Canadian public are to senstive and must be cuddled and yes some are, but if you come up with a intell reason for us being there, then i think they will understand.

 I certainly agree with just about everything the Senator has said. A far as the Govt not talking about casualties, I disagree: in all the operations I can recall, I have never, ever, seen such a constant public emphasis on danger, risk and the high likelihood of losses such as we are seeing in connection with OP ARCHER. If you pay close attention to the media (including the much-maligned and suspected CBC...) I think you will see that everybody from the PM down has been making this point. Our senior officers, in particular, have been hammering on these topics to a degree almost unheard of ten years ago and unimaginable 20 years ago. I don't think the Canadian public is listening very closely. Or maybe, just maybe, they actually agree for a change.

Cheers.
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Offline silentbutdeadly

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Re: The lack of leadership
« Reply #6 on: August 14, 2005, 12:11:52 »
good point!

Offline Michael Dorosh

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Re: The lack of leadership
« Reply #7 on: August 14, 2005, 12:39:34 »
*Putting Flame Suit on*

This is why we need a Commander in Chief who isn't, well, a journalist.

That's funny, I though journalists were exactly the people who we as a society and a nation have looked to for our daily news.

Care to elaborate?  Whom, then, would be suitable, in your eyes, for the post of commander-in-chief?  And what is it you think a commander-in-chief does?
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Offline SF2

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Re: The lack of leadership
« Reply #8 on: August 15, 2005, 13:35:02 »


You're right, journalists are the people we as a society look at for daily news, but not as the executive to our military (albiet more of a symbolic/traditional one).  The article cites lack of leadership.  Well, in my opinion, our new CDS is the epitome (pronounced EPP - EHH - TOME for you Jim Lahey fans) of leadership, so this lack has to be at higher echelons than that.  That's where my comment comes in.  How many people are in charge ABOVE the CDS?  MND?  PM? GG?  Its gotta come for the top and trickle down.  Even the PM needs inspiration once in a while, and that's where a patriotic, loyal, charismatic GG comes in.

I PERSONALLY would like to see something simliar to the US, where the head of gov't is the commander in chief (who so happens to also be the head of state).  Here, the so-called leadership is held accountable to the public to the highest degree.  But yes, yada yada yada commonwealth under the queen bla bla, and I have no problem with that.  I truly enjoy and cherish the monarchy, given that I have their commission.  However, someone who is appointed by the PM because of their national contributions doesn't necessarily make them a commander in chief for our military.  Yes I know that the GG rarely makes any decisions for the military, and that its a signature more than anything, but when you need someone to speak on behalf of all us, INClUDING the CDS, they'd better damn well know what they're talking about.

Now who should fill the position?  Damn good question.  Who knows, I barely know anyone outside Petawawa for god's sake.

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Offline Michael Dorosh

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Re: The lack of leadership
« Reply #9 on: August 15, 2005, 13:53:26 »

You're right, journalists are the people we as a society look at for daily news, but not as the executive to our military (albiet more of a symbolic/traditional one).   The article cites lack of leadership.   Well, in my opinion, our new CDS is the epitome (pronounced EPP - EHH - TOME for you Jim Lahey fans) of leadership, so this lack has to be at higher echelons than that.   That's where my comment comes in.   How many people are in charge ABOVE the CDS?   MND?   PM? GG?   Its gotta come for the top and trickle down.   Even the PM needs inspiration once in a while, and that's where a patriotic, loyal, charismatic GG comes in.

I PERSONALLY would like to see something simliar to the US, where the head of gov't is the commander in chief (who so happens to also be the head of state).   Here, the so-called leadership is held accountable to the public to the highest degree.   But yes, yada yada yada commonwealth under the queen bla bla, and I have no problem with that.   I truly enjoy and cherish the monarchy, given that I have their commission.   However, someone who is appointed by the PM because of their national contributions doesn't necessarily make them a commander in chief for our military.   Yes I know that the GG rarely makes any decisions for the military, and that its a signature more than anything, but when you need someone to speak on behalf of all us, INClUDING the CDS, they'd better damn well know what they're talking about.

Now who should fill the position?   Damn good question.   Who knows, I barely know anyone outside Petawawa for god's sake.

FLAME SUIT REMAINS ON REINFORCED WITH DUCT TAPE.

Good response.  Personally, I'd be leery of someone with a lack of acumen on the order of Jean Chretien having more power to use the military, so I disagree in part, at least with your envisioned C-i-C role.  The government decides what to do with the military, but the CDS, working with the MND, define how it will be done.  The G-G really has no role to play as it is.

Unless you can think of an instance when one of our "military" Governors-General actually intervened in a matter of policy?  I don't have a firm grasp at all on political history so there could be dozens for all I know.  I do know many of our G-Gs were selected due at least in part to their military achievements in the field, or if not selected because of, then at the least famous for.

Why does the CDS need someone to speak for them?  I think when we get a real general like Hillier in there, he does well at expressing himself, and if not, the MND can speak to the people of Canada.  The perceived weakness is when a CDS is appointed who is a politician or a bureaucrat rather than a general.  I can picture General Hillier in a toga waving a sword; General Baril completes that picture a little less fully. :)
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Offline SF2

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Re: The lack of leadership
« Reply #10 on: August 15, 2005, 14:00:50 »
True in some aspects.

However the original article was addressing why the public doesn't know what's up with Afganistan.  In my opinion, Gen Hillier has been VERY vocal about it, but the CDS isn't in a position to express it directly to the public....and that's where the politicians come in, because they have the ability to circumnavigate, or stomp on the CDS's views and express their own to the public.  That's why you need someone in the highest of echelons, higher than the CDS, in a position of direct public opinion/interaction who can "speak for the CDS"......

Offline E.R. Campbell

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Re: The lack of leadership
« Reply #11 on: August 15, 2005, 14:25:10 »
In my opinion the 'spin' applied to defence, in general and military operations, in particular (by DND's communications people and everyone else in government) is driven from the centre: the Prime Minister's Office which, according to the rumours I hear, is no less controlling of the message under the Martinis than it was under the Chrétienistas.  The first duty of ministers and senior officials is to stay on message and the message is: "Vote Liberal!  The Liberal party of Canada is doing what you want, whatever you want; and it's not doing what you don't want to hear about - like fighting wars."
It is ill that men should kill one another in seditions, tumults and wars; but it is worse to bring nations to such misery, weakness and baseness
as to have neither strength nor courage to contend for anything; to have nothing left worth defending and to give the name of peace to desolation.
Algernon Sidney in Discourses Concerning Government, (1698)
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Offline E.R. Campbell

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Re: The lack of leadership
« Reply #12 on: August 15, 2005, 15:22:43 »
The above, about 'spinning' being said, I agree with short final; it is the CDS' duty to tell Canadian sailors, soldiers and aviators what to do, how to do it and so on and, equally important, why they are doing it.   It is not his job to tell that to the Canadian people.

It is Prime Minister Paul Martin's job to tell Canadians why it is important that they (the government) send our troops into harm's way.   (If it's not important then the government ought not to send them there in the first place.)

Edited to corect spelling
« Last Edit: August 15, 2005, 18:07:38 by Edward Campbell »
It is ill that men should kill one another in seditions, tumults and wars; but it is worse to bring nations to such misery, weakness and baseness
as to have neither strength nor courage to contend for anything; to have nothing left worth defending and to give the name of peace to desolation.
Algernon Sidney in Discourses Concerning Government, (1698)
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Offline jmacleod

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Re: The lack of leadership
« Reply #13 on: August 15, 2005, 16:14:04 »
General Hillier obviously has the tacit approval of the Prime Minister. It appears that the PMO are
focused on generating an overall policy related to the Canadian Forces which has not appeared
in the public forum, but it is suspected will be debated at the next Government policy forum
in Regina, behind closed doors. My opinion is that Hillier and other senior officers, plus the DM
DND and other senior bureaucrats are having some effect on Federal defence policies - this
is a surprise, but more positive support for the Canadian Forces might be evident by the early
'fall. There are too many areas in the international sector, bordering on crises, which require a
a more effective demonstration of political will, coupled with military strength. The funeral of
the late Sgt. E.A (Smoky) Smith VC was a profound and striking example of the high quality of
the Canadian Forces, particularly the Canadian Army (both Regular and Reserve) which we understand
made a very significant impression on the PM and some of his more senior Ministers> MacLeod

Offline sigtech

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Re: The lack of leadership
« Reply #14 on: August 16, 2005, 08:31:51 »
This mite sound strange, but I believe the public are told to much. It is my belief that the media pass back to much information and in most situations end up causing undo stress to the wife's and children left behind here in Canada. Let soldiers do what soldiers do, without a constant media light on them it will allow them to complete there job via the means that are necessary and return home to there loved ones. Why are we in the Afgan? The people that count are told what they need to know, "Honey I am going on tour and I love you and I will be coming back soon"
The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it." (Moliere)

Offline yukon

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Re: The lack of leadership
« Reply #15 on: August 16, 2005, 16:02:18 »
This mite sound strange, but I believe the public are told to much. It is my belief that the media pass back to much information and in most situations end up causing undo stress to the wife's and children left behind here in Canada. Let soldiers do what soldiers do, without a constant media light on them it will allow them to complete there job via the means that are necessary and return home to there loved ones. Why are we in the Afgan? The people that count are told what they need to know, "Honey I am going on tour and I love you and I will be coming back soon"

I agree with the fact that in today's world, instant access to information may cause unneeded stress on loved ones. This is a reality that IMHO isn't going to change any time soon, in fact it may be quite the opposite. One only has to look at the reporting coming out of Iraq, embedded journalists with combat units etc.

I'm sure a deployed soldier does not want to cause undue stress on his family but in this day and age soldiering seems to be a family affair, whether they like it or not, something I've witnessed with an in-laws deployment to Sierra Leone. I know there wasn't a single day (if not hour) that went by that the family wasn't concerned about their loved one on tour. It wasn't a fear of the known that worried them, it was the unknown...the uncontrollable factors that a soldier can't train for. I guess what I'm trying to say is if a wife/child or other loved one is left in the dark, the mind can wander pretty fast.

It's a fine line, i personally don't have the experience or judgement to say where that boundary should exist, between too much coverage(as in Iraq for some) and not enough time in the spotlight (as per the CF and Canadian media IMHO). I believe that as a member of the public I deserve to know the where and why of troop deployments (when possible), it is with this knowledge that one can make semi-informed decisions when it comes time to vote with respect to matters of DND, foreign policy etc. It can also help inform the public wrt things such as shortfalls in funding, training and kit needed for today's soldiers, things that may otherwise go unoticed by the populace.

Out of curiosity, what sort of arrangements are in place for the Canadian media to report on Op Archer? Can we expect to see any embedded journalists with Canadian troops and PRTs based out of Kandahar in the near future? Further to that, is this something that Canadian troops would even want to take on due to the added responsibilities and stresses of another civilian tagging along on patrols & operations?

cheers.

Offline Brad Sallows

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Re: The lack of leadership
« Reply #16 on: August 16, 2005, 20:19:24 »
And the question remains: why Afghanistan?  Of all the candidates for nation-building assistance, why them?  It's not like we have a lot of cultural ties or a mutual history on which to build.
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Offline Cloud Cover

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Re: The lack of leadership
« Reply #17 on: August 16, 2005, 21:23:00 »
I don't know why Afghanistan, but in my opinion it really has nothing to do with nation-building. If Canada really had a serious inkling to "nation build", we'd send SNC Lavalin over there to construct a giant toll hi-way and contract Canadian Tire and Rona to supply home building materials. [crappy tire money in the 'Ghan- how's that for capitalist democracy?] Karzai needs cash, and he needs a few thousand western troops hanging around, but the "new" Canadian army is needed elsewhere. [assuming that a nuclear armed, cruise missile equipped Pakistan can be counted on to continue to hunt, [and not aid] the enemy- big assumption over the long term.]

If we want to use the armed forces to nation build by forcing peace and democracy, how about Iraq, Sudan or perhaps parts of the emerging Palestinian state and the list goes on?   

There's no shortage of brave Canadians willing to undertake the tasks, we seem to have a shortgage of funds and leadership to take them where they could be of most value.

You guys are right, we need an explanation.

You're right. I Never  Met A Motherfucker Quite Like You, or someone as smart as you.  Never ever will, either.

Offline Thucydides

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Re: The lack of leadership
« Reply #18 on: August 16, 2005, 22:43:07 »
Since the CDS is the chief military advisor to the government (and even entitled to a seat at the cabinet table); I am fairly certain he will have raised many of those questions as to "why Afghanistan" as well as discussing the very real limits to what the military can and cannot do. The "why" of course is out of our hands, the Government decides and we pack our barracks boxes and get ready to deploy. Once the decision is made, then the CDS needs to tell us and the public what we have been tasked to do. (Ms Parrish is obviously confused as to the sequence of events).

The "info glut" is actually a blessing. Not only do we have "embedded" media and a more aware (although not fully informed) media establishment watching our actions, but soldiers themselves are "blogging" and sending news over the Internet to friends and loved ones. Because it comes from the soldiers themselves, it seems to come from a totally different universe than the MSM (read the New York Times and then compare it to any number of blogs by soldiers and units deployed in Iraq, you'd think they were on a different planet). We no longer have news as propaganda, but can access ground truth for ourselves and make informed decisions. This is the ultimate basis for democratic societies to live and thrive.
Dagny, this is not a battle over material goods. It's a moral crisis, the greatest the world has ever faced and the last. Our age is the climax of centuries of evil. We must put an end to it, once and for all, or perish - we, the men of the mind. It was our own guilt. We produced the wealth of the world - but we let our enemies write its moral code.

Offline Michael Dorosh

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Re: The lack of leadership
« Reply #19 on: August 16, 2005, 22:52:01 »
Since the CDS is the chief military advisor to the government (and even entitled to a seat at the cabinet table); I am fairly certain he will have raised many of those questions as to "why Afghanistan" as well as discussing the very real limits to what the military can and cannot do. The "why" of course is out of our hands, the Government decides and we pack our barracks boxes and get ready to deploy. Once the decision is made, then the CDS needs to tell us and the public what we have been tasked to do. (Ms Parrish is obviously confused as to the sequence of events).

The "info glut" is actually a blessing. Not only do we have "embedded" media and a more aware (although not fully informed) media establishment watching our actions, but soldiers themselves are "blogging" and sending news over the Internet to friends and loved ones. Because it comes from the soldiers themselves, it seems to come from a totally different universe than the MSM (read the New York Times and then compare it to any number of blogs by soldiers and units deployed in Iraq, you'd think they were on a different planet). We no longer have news as propaganda, but can access ground truth for ourselves and make informed decisions. This is the ultimate basis for democratic societies to live and thrive.

Ground "opinion" you mean - the soldiers may be closer to the action, but to call their views "truth" would be going too far - in my opinion.  But yes, we have much more access to information from a greater variety of sources - a good thing, as long as opsec is maintained.
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Offline sigtech

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Re: The lack of leadership
« Reply #20 on: August 17, 2005, 09:27:43 »
I don't know why Afghanistan, but in my opinion it really has nothing to do with nation-building. If Canada really had a serious inkling to "nation build", we'd send SNC Lavalin over there to construct a giant toll hi-way and contract Canadian Tire and Rona to supply home building materials. [crappy tire money in the 'Ghan- how's that for capitalist democracy?] Karzai needs cash, and he needs a few thousand western troops hanging around, but the "new" Canadian army is needed elsewhere. [assuming that a nuclear armed, cruise missile equipped Pakistan can be counted on to continue to hunt, [and not aid] the enemy- big assumption over the long term.]

If we want to use the armed forces to nation build by forcing peace and democracy, how about Iraq, Sudan or perhaps parts of the emerging Palestinian state and the list goes on?     

There's no shortage of brave Canadians willing to undertake the tasks, we seem to have a shortgage of funds and leadership to take them where they could be of most value.

You guys are right, we need an explanation.



Why Afghanistan ? As a member of Canada's ararmedorces we are told to go. Will a full explanation allow us to do our job better? I believe if you want explanations get into politics and discuss the whys in the House, as a soldier we just do like we are told to, as our fathers/mothers and there fathers and there fathers fathers did. Canada says go and we go.

Are more funds needed and better equipment need to allow Canada's solders to complete there task at hand , you know it.

It would be nice for the reasons of making war or intodays speak making peace to be as clear and clean as it was for my family members that served in WWI and WWII. The unfortunate fact is we go into areas to allow ececonomic growth of North American company's reasons are reasons what the bottom line is we do what we are told. We kiss our loved ones goodbye and we go.ccrappy for them but in most situations they know what they are getting into when they married someone that is a soldier.

As far as the leadership goes if you are talking the prime minister and other political postions that is up to all citizens of canada to vote in the correct people. Now the officer cadra well is there any way to breed good leadership there ?
The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it." (Moliere)

Offline E.R. Campbell

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Re: The lack of leadership
« Reply #21 on: August 17, 2005, 10:30:31 »
Why Afghanistan ? As a member of Canada's ararmedorces we are told to go. Will a full explanation allow us to do our job better? I believe if you want explanations get into politics and discuss the whys in the House, as a soldier we just do like we are told to, as our fathers/mothers and there fathers and there fathers fathers did. Canada says go and we go.

...

In over 35 years of service I remained amazed at the fact â “ and I firmly believe it is a fact â “ that soldiers do better when they understand what and why.

I remember being admonished as a junior officer (as were many of my mates) for not explaining 'why' often enough or in enough detail.  The longer I served the more I came to understand.  I remember, more recently, admonishing junior officers and NCOs (many of them) for not explaining 'why' often enough or in enough detail.  I expect that those folks will have learned and I am confident that they, now, are admonishing junior officers.

We, the Western armies, have long believed that soldiers need to reason why and the older I get the more I, too, understand why.
It is ill that men should kill one another in seditions, tumults and wars; but it is worse to bring nations to such misery, weakness and baseness
as to have neither strength nor courage to contend for anything; to have nothing left worth defending and to give the name of peace to desolation.
Algernon Sidney in Discourses Concerning Government, (1698)
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Offline sigtech

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Re: The lack of leadership
« Reply #22 on: August 17, 2005, 10:43:37 »
My job is not to ask the question why my job is but to do and die
The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it." (Moliere)

Offline Michael Dorosh

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Re: The lack of leadership
« Reply #23 on: August 17, 2005, 10:49:04 »
In over 35 years of service I remained amazed at the fact â “ and I firmly believe it is a fact â “ that soldiers do better when they understand what and why.

I remember being admonished as a junior officer (as were many of my mates) for not explaining 'why' often enough or in enough detail.   The longer I served the more I came to understand.   I remember, more recently, admonishing junior officers and NCOs (many of them) for not explaining 'why' often enough or in enough detail.   I expect that those folks will have learned and I am confident that they, now, are admonishing junior officers.

We, the Western armies, have long believed that soldiers need to reason why and the older I get the more I, too, understand why.


This is true; I think Arthur Currie started the trend in WW I, right?  Platoon commanders getting marked maps issued was probably unheard of before the Canadian Corps started doing it.
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Offline E.R. Campbell

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Re: The lack of leadership
« Reply #24 on: August 17, 2005, 11:15:18 »
This is true; I think Arthur Currie started the trend in WW I, right?   Platoon commanders getting marked maps issued was probably unheard of before the Canadian Corps started doing it.

That's certainly one aspect of the 'why' - in terms of 'why do it this way?'

There is another, going back, e.g. to about 218 BCE when Hannibal said, to his troops: " Long enough, in pursuing cattle among the desert mountains of Lusitania and Celtiberia, you have seen no emolument from so many toils and dangers; it is time to make rich and profitable campaigns, and to gain the great reward of your labours, after having accomplished such a length of journey over so many mountains and rivers, and so many nations in arms. Here fortune has granted you the termination of your labours; here she will bestow a reward worthy of the service you have undergone. Nor, in proportion as the war is great in name, ought you to consider that the victory will be difficult. A despised enemy has often maintained a sanguinary contest, and renowned States and kings have been conquered by a very slight effort."  This was a pretty mercenary 'why' but it appears to have had the desired effect.

Nelson did it, more than once: told his sailors that they fought for more than just a few meagre pennies and the lash.  Nelson's own comments about his own personal loyalty to king and country were intended to inspire his captains and to be passed through the fleet.

Even Wellingtons' famous remarks about the low social quality of his troops (" People talk of their enlisting from their fine military feeling - all stuff - no such thing. Some of our men enlist from having got ******* children -- some for minor offences -- many more for drink.") was a backhanded compliment and an acknowledgement that his men did more than just "do or die".

It is ill that men should kill one another in seditions, tumults and wars; but it is worse to bring nations to such misery, weakness and baseness
as to have neither strength nor courage to contend for anything; to have nothing left worth defending and to give the name of peace to desolation.
Algernon Sidney in Discourses Concerning Government, (1698)
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