SSWG e-Conference Series Archive:
"The Future of Fighting"

Conference I Transcript:
"What Are the Military and Foreign Policy Lessons of Afghanistan?"

Original e-Conference date: May 1, 2012
(oldest comments first)


RT @TheCIC: . @rolandparis, @smsaideman & @pmlagasse answer your Qs about future of the military in less than 10 mins! bit.ly
by CDFAI via twitter May 1 at 11:57 AM

Greetings!
by smsaideman May 1 at 12:00 PM

Hi everyone, and welcome to the CIC and CDFAI's Future of Fighting kick-off discussion, "A Post-Afghanistan Military," with Roland Paris and Steve Saideman. I am an assistant professor of public and international affairs at the University of Ottawa and the moderator of the Future of Fighting Series. I will be moderating this discussion - and the six that follow. We’re looking forward to bringing in questions from the online public, so please add them to the live-chat or, for those on Twitter, use #CICLive.
by pmlagasse May 1 at 12:01 PM

And we're off! If you have Q's for our 3 experts on the Future of Fighting, tweet to #CICLive.
by TheCIC via twitter May 1 at 12:01 PM

RT @jenjeffs: What are the military and FP lessons of Afghanistan? @rolandparis and @smsaideman are online now to take your questions ht ...
by TheCIC via twitter May 1 at 12:01 PM

Let's start with a few questions for both professors: Steve points out that influence with allies and pulling our weight counts as a Canadian success in Afghanistan. A big part of the Canadian defence policy debate between 1995 and 2005 focused on Canada's lack of influence and importance. In redressing this problem, did the Canadian government go too far, as Roland suggests?
by pmlagasse May 1 at 12:03 PM

And we're off! Have questions for @rolandparis and @smsaideman on the future of the military? Tweet them at @TheCIC #FutureofFighting
by CDFAI via twitter May 1 at 12:03 PM

@TheCIC How successful has Canada been at changing our reputation in the world as war-fighters? #CICLive
by roberteisenberg via twitter May 1 at 12:03 PM

It seems like our identity as "peacekeepers" in wars has been declining - do you think we'll ever get it back? Do we even want it back?
by Paul May 1 at 12:04 PM

To put things into context, Canada was not the only country to wander into Afghanistan. So, either all of NATO militarized their foreign policies or not.
by smsaideman May 1 at 12:04 PM

#CICLive what can we expect in the future regarding possible deployments? The material support has been reduced but readiness stayed the same.
by Jfbelanger May 1 at 12:05 PM

@CICOttawa #futureoffighting Mark Collins argues that our ability to afford a blue water navy is may be coming to an end, what do to think?
by MahmudNaqi via twitter May 1 at 12:05 PM

The real question, I think, for Canadian Foreign Policy, is whether the military became convenient tool--that using diplomacy requires clear ideas of about agendas to be set, issues to frame, which fora to select.
by smsaideman May 1 at 12:05 PM

I wouldn't say the government went "too far" in trying to re-establish a Canadian presence in international affairs. I would say, however, that it put most of its eggs in the military basket, neglecting other elements of our foreign policy.
by Roland Paris May 1 at 12:05 PM

I would agree with Roland on this.
by smsaideman May 1 at 12:06 PM

The US and Canadian defence communities appear to be placing increasing emphais on special operating forces to meet future challenges in an environment dominated by asymetric threats. What are your thoughts about this?
by MJ in Ottawa May 1 at 12:06 PM

Tweet #FutureofFighting any Qs you have for @rolandparis, @smsaideman & @pmlagasse! bit.ly
by TheCIC via twitter May 1 at 12:07 PM

To address ID as peacekeepers, part of the challenge is that the world has changed--those who might be peace kept realized in the 90's that peacekeepers can be targets--Bosnia, Rwanda, etc. So, to do peacekeeping requires the ability/resolve to use force. Always was true but more obviously so.
by smsaideman May 1 at 12:08 PM

Roland you note that civilian departments are being neglected and have been sidelined in Canadian foreign policy. Steve you suggested note that these civilian departments are very limited in their ability to contribute counter-insurgency and nation-building efforts, and that the military has to shore up the civil side of things as a result. Is there a way to augment the ability of civilian departments to deploy alongside the CF on these types of missions in the future? Or is the future of Canadian 'whole of government' interventions doomed to be military-centric?
by pmlagasse May 1 at 12:08 PM

@TheCIC #futureoffighting how has A-stan changed how the CF/DND work with other gov't depts, namely CIDA,DFAIT? Implications for future ops?
by jennifersalahub via twitter May 1 at 12:08 PM

Regarding SOF (sorry, hard to answer all questions), I think this is something that politicians rely on because it seems to reduce risk (fewer casualties) but also oversight (who knows what SOF are doing).
by smsaideman May 1 at 12:08 PM

@TheCIC @rolandparis @smsaideman @pmlagasse Time to scrap the sub program? #FutureofFighting
by EmmMacfarlane via twitter May 1 at 12:08 PM

My answer to the SOF question is really a broader point about force composition and acquisitions: Above all else, I think we need forces that are flexible and adaptable to new missions. That's one of the benefits of special operating forces. But that said, SOF don't operate alone. They need regular forces and other tactical support to function, too.
by rolandparis May 1 at 12:09 PM

MT @jonathan_sas: Canada seems to be in lockstep w/ other NATO countries as we slash defence $. Are these cuts risky? #FutureofFighting
by TheCIC via twitter May 1 at 12:10 PM

For DFAIT/CIDA to work with military, they will have to become a bit more agile--responding to events on the ground, delegating to their officers in the field. During last year or so of Kandahar mission, the maps had changed with the US surge--CF adjusted, civs didn't. Why? civs had maps made in Ottawa and stuck to them.
by smsaideman May 1 at 12:10 PM

Many of the questions we're getting are about which capabilities the CF can afford over the long term. Steve, Roland, without getting too deeply into the specifics, do you think there are certain roles that the Canadian military can safely abandon in order to focus on certain niches? And what would those niches be?
by pmlagasse May 1 at 12:11 PM

The problem with the defence cuts that most countries are making these days is that they are divorced from any consideration for what these countries want their militaries to do over the next few decades. Canada needs to figure out, essentially, which services it can afford and for what interests. Until it faces that tradeoff, Canada will be making decisions blindly.
by smsaideman May 1 at 12:11 PM

@TheCIC #futureoffighting The OMLT concept took off in Afghanistan post-2006. Do you see this commitment as mission-specific or a trend?
by PostWarHist via twitter May 1 at 12:12 PM

Hi Roland, I agree with you that the classic component of military will still have to support SOF but we will see in the future an increased roll of SOF and a trimming of army regiments into even more of an expiditionary force to deal with the "New Norm" of todays threat that is Terrorism and insurgency!
by Sean Isaac May 1 at 12:13 PM

Phil, to complete my thought: I do not think Canada can afford three complete services with 21st century equipment. Or at least, not willing to pay. So, choose to gut one of the three branches and do the other two reasonably well. So, pick: AF and navy, navy and army, af and army.
by smsaideman May 1 at 12:13 PM

@TheCIC @smsaideman has said we need to choose 2/3: AF, Army, Navy. Which best position us to act local & global? #FutureofFighting #CICLive
by roberteisenberg via twitter May 1 at 12:13 PM

@pmlagasse What can we be looking forward to in terms of Arctic policy? The government has put a lot of emphasis on sovereignty and the need to secure the Arctic, but very little money has been spent compared to what it would take to have a significant presence in the Arctic. What is your take on this? #FutureofFighting
by Jfbelanger May 1 at 12:14 PM

I do think that Canada will have to choose which capabilities it can really provide and drop ones that are only there symbolically. My favorite example (and as a fan of submarines this pains me) does having 4 subs in total really provide Canada with more than symbolic capability? Probably not. But if you drop the sub program, this might make it affordable to have enough search and rescue. Perhaps. Perhaps not, but we need to think hard about such choices because tradeoffs exist.
by smsaideman May 1 at 12:15 PM

Do either one of you think that Arctic defence could be a plausible niche for the Canadian Forces? @Jfbelanger wants to know.
by pmlagasse May 1 at 12:16 PM

Sub program or search & rescue? @smsaideman asks us to choose in our live chat. Tune in! bit.ly cc: @CDFAI #cdnpoli
by TheCIC via twitter May 1 at 12:16 PM

RT @jennifersalahub: Great conversation over at @TheCIC! live.opencanada.org feat @smsaideman, @rolandparis, @pmlagasse. Thx, guys! (n ...
by TheCIC via twitter May 1 at 12:17 PM

my problem about arctic sovereignty is that it really is a diplomatic problem more than military since Canada will never have the ability to thwart the US or Russia. The choice really is to settle the differences with the Danes and the Americans and work with them to deal with the Russians or the reverse as some allies of the NDP have suggested. And, I have to say, the traditional solution of working with the Americans against the Russians makes sense to me.
by smsaideman May 1 at 12:17 PM

On capabilities, we have to begin by discussion priority missions. In my view, first priority mission is protection of coastlines and continental airspace. The second is the capacity to deploy mobile expeditionary forces with tactical support (and strategic airlift). What types of forces and equipment do we need to deliver those priority missions? That's my answer to the capabilities question.
by rolandparis May 1 at 12:17 PM

And the sub vs S&R was just an example. But helos vs f-35s might be a real choice down the road
by smsaideman May 1 at 12:17 PM

What I would like to know , will the F-35 meet our military needs in the Arctic ? The Harper government is increasing expediently our coast guard fleet to meet many needs in paroling our waterways but is the F-35 going to also meet those needs or should we be looking for other planes that are flight ready to replace our F-18's ?
by echohawk May 1 at 12:17 PM

Roland's answer speaks to the larger question: what is Canada's grand strategy? What are the threats it perceives, what are the commitments it has to keep, and what are the means by which to deal with both threats and commitments?
by smsaideman May 1 at 12:18 PM

Is the #Arctic a diplomatic or a military problem? We're talking about it live - join us! bit.ly #cdnpoli cc: @ArcticSecurity
by TheCIC via twitter May 1 at 12:19 PM

[don't be afraid to re-ask a question that we didn't address as they roll off our screen while we type away]
by smsaideman May 1 at 12:19 PM

Alright, let's move on from capabilities for a bit. Both of your pieces discuss the importance of civilian capacity, namely from DFAIT and CIDA. What role would a strengthened diplomatic corps and development agency play in this Conservative vision of Canadian foreign policy, one that emphasizes 'hard power' over 'soft power' (apologies for the cliches)?
by pmlagasse May 1 at 12:19 PM

I'd like to get back to the discussion of Afghanistan. How do we think the Canadian Forces performed in Kandahar?
by rolandparis May 1 at 12:20 PM

 

Poll: How do we think the Canadian Forces performed in Kandahar?
A+
B
C-
F

by Anouk Dey May 1 at 12:20 PM

Kandahar depends on expectations: the CF did very well in meeting/exceeding alliance expectations. It did well at meeting Martin (yes, remember this was Paul Martin's decision) 's stated goal of making a difference and having an impact.
by smsaideman May 1 at 12:21 PM

Roland asks a very important question. Steve's piece argues that the CF succeeded in Kandahar, insofar as they achieved the government's objectives of augmenting Canada's influence within NATO.
by pmlagasse May 1 at 12:21 PM

For the numbers of what Canada had deployed in the volitile south I think Canada performed with an easy A+. Lets face it folks the mission in the south by far is much tougher than anywhere else in the country. We had a very small number looking at the big picture. I think we did great do you agree
by Sean Isaac May 1 at 12:22 PM

In narrow military terms, Canada kept Kandahar from being lost to the insurgents--not a small feat. In other missions, Canada was at the kid's table when the decisions were being made. This time, although much was decided in DC, when it came to who in the alliance was at the adult's table, Canada was. Germany, Spain, Italy not so much.
by smsaideman May 1 at 12:22 PM

Question of success is an important one. Can be answered in two ways. First, Canada was part of a larger NATO effort to stabilize Afghanistan. By any reasonable metric, it's hard to call that effort a success... (cont.)
by rolandparis May 1 at 12:22 PM

I've always wondered if having the CF deployed in Kandahar served NATO's larger objectives. If Canada had not accepted Kandahar, could a larger ally with greater resources have taken charge of that province?
by pmlagasse May 1 at 12:23 PM

Second, as Steve points out, we can look at Canada's performance in Kandahar relative to other parts of the ISAF mission, or relative to expectations about how Canada would perform... (cont.)
by rolandparis May 1 at 12:23 PM

How did the #CanadianForces perform in Kandahar. @RolandParis, @smsaideman & @pmlagasse giving grades as we speak: bit.ly
by TheCIC via twitter May 1 at 12:24 PM

The question of cyber security (and cyber warfare) is taking up an increasing amount of space in public discussions about national security in the US. What role should the CF play? Should they maintain their current defensive stance and protect only their IT infrastructure? Should they take on a more offensive role/capacities or leave that to intelligence and security organizations like the Communications Security Establishment and maybe CSIS?
by MJ in Ottawa May 1 at 12:24 PM

Phil, who was left? The Brits were committed to Helmand, the Germans and the Italians had their sectors (and with restrictions that meant they could not really operate in Kandahar) and France was under Chirac at the time and he didn't want to help the US out in any way.
by smsaideman May 1 at 12:25 PM

Relative to other ISAF units, I think the Canadians performed as well as any. But let's be clear: with the exception of Kandahar Airfield and Kandahar City, the CF had huge problems retaining physical and political control of most of the province.
by rolandparis May 1 at 12:25 PM

So, it was Canada or the US. And the US was pretty stretched by Iraq. So, who would this other ally be?
by smsaideman May 1 at 12:25 PM

@TheCIC #futureoffighting Follow up! How will budget cuts impact civilan dept's' abilities to be nimble? (beyond diminishing it...)
by jennifersalahub via twitter May 1 at 12:26 PM

Could the US have deployed a larger force that Canada? Would that have made any difference? What do you think Roland?
by pmlagasse May 1 at 12:26 PM

To continue Roland's point--CF controlled the land under it and not much further, but true for US and rest of the alliance--all under-resourced until 2010.
by smsaideman May 1 at 12:26 PM

The land that Canadians fought and died over in 2006 in Op Medusa was never ultimately controlled by Canadians. It became de facto Taliban territory again and again. And by the time of the Obama surge, the Taliban had made big inroads in the area around Kandahar City.
by rolandparis May 1 at 12:26 PM

Good question, Jennifer. I don't know where the cuts are going to hit, but given their lower level already, probably going to hit much harder.
by smsaideman May 1 at 12:27 PM

How do you think the best way of getting to a "grand strategy" would be? yet another Defence White paper? Public consultations?
by MahmudNaqi May 1 at 12:27 PM

Does the US's re-kindled interest and focus in the Asia-Pacific have any significant consequences for the CF?
by terrar May 1 at 12:27 PM

The real problem in Kandahar, just as in the rest of the country, was and is political. and CF could only do so much on that.
by smsaideman May 1 at 12:27 PM

Why has territory that Cdns fought for in Op Medusa returned to #Taliban hands? Answers coming live: bit.ly #FutureofFighting
by TheCIC via twitter May 1 at 12:28 PM

Right now I think the Arctic is a little of both a diplomatic problem and military one . It is no secret that Russia has sent subs into our territory and the Danes have certainly been doing some military posturing with us over that island . China is presently training a large portion of their soldiers for Arctic temp warfare . Russia 's parliament approve of 20 nuclear subs for Arctic deployment . I don't think there will be an armed confrontation but I personally feel that there will be a lot of bullying and posturing as one or another country just helps itself . China currently has a research station set up I believe on a Norwegian island but can't seem to tell anyone what they are researching . When our government offices were hacked a few months ago it seemed only geological information and resource leases were hacked . At the same time this happened the US had some of its defence systems hacked and they lost control over part of that system for 10 mins .
by echohawk May 1 at 12:28 PM

To answer your question, Phil, a bigger force would have certainly made a tactical difference in the short run, allowing more territory to be held, but I'm not sure it would have made a huge *strategic* difference, since the Taliban remained strong in Pakistan. We'd still be more or less where we are now.
by rolandparis May 1 at 12:28 PM

So in light of the Kandahar experience, what lessons should military leaders, civilian officials, and Cabinet minister learn about deploying the CF on future operations, particularly those involving nation-building in the midst of a counter-insurgency or civil war?
by pmlagasse May 1 at 12:28 PM

Good question--how to get to a grand strategy. It would require.... leadership. Rather than ducking and covering on issues like the F-35, the Prime Minister would have to figure out priorities, whether he consulted with rest of government or not, and say what Canada's enduring interests are and what it needs to address those.
by smsaideman May 1 at 12:28 PM

Curious to know your opinions on what might have happened had CF stuck in Kandahar beyond 2011 – would their ties with local Afghan leaders, combined with extra support from the US, have led to a better outcome than where we are today?
by Mike Barber May 1 at 12:28 PM

Agree with Steve. He just made my long point in one sentence.
by rolandparis May 1 at 12:29 PM

That political problem was as much in the west as in AFPAK.
by Richard Quigley May 1 at 12:29 PM

Answer to Mike Barber: I don't think it would have made much of a difference if Canadians had stayed in Kandahar. They were already vastly outnumbered by incoming US forces. And neither the Canadians nor the Americans have ever really connected with the people -- not surprisingly, Afghans have been hedging from the start, uncertain if the Taliban would return. It's a survival strategy for the locals, and if you think about it, it's a pretty rational one.
by rolandparis May 1 at 12:30 PM

To do counterinsurgency requires not so much winning hearts and minds but gaining confidence that the government is semi-reliable. Never got there. So why bet your life with NATO and Karzai? When the government is corrupt and rapacious, might as well sit it out. Hence no extension of control.
by smsaideman May 1 at 12:30 PM

We've got two interesting grand strategy questions: 1) How does the Canadian government go about formulating its grand strategy? 2) Does the declared American shift toward the Asia-Pacific mean anything for Canadian grand strategy?
by pmlagasse May 1 at 12:31 PM

Great question via @pmlagasse: What does the US shift to Asia-Pacific mean for Cdn military? Tell us what you think! bit.ly
by TheCIC via twitter May 1 at 12:32 PM

@pmlagasse There had better be a plan for all stages, early mid-term & exiting the conflict as well as post conflict aid. This needs to be in place, I'd almost say before any troop commitment. Can be adjusted during the term of the conflict.
by Richard Quigley May 1 at 12:32 PM

Well, this Canadian govt could form a grand strategy if Harper spends a weekend by himself since that seems to be the way he makes his decisions. Optimally, you would want a (dare I say it) whole of government effort where the agencies work on what the threats are, how best to address them, and so on.
by smsaideman May 1 at 12:32 PM

@smsaideman Surely a general policy on these things is needed?
by Richard Quigley May 1 at 12:34 PM

But coming back to how Canada performed in Kandahar, you would never know from Government of Canada statements and public reporting just how little progress we actually achieved in that province. Comments from ministers and military leaders were almost always about "making progress," until at the end of the day, amazingly, PM Harper declared that Afghanistan no longer posed an international security threat, so now we could leave Kandahar. Mind-boggling.
by rolandparis May 1 at 12:35 PM

Seems to me grand strategy is far easier to undertake either during total war or in a dictatorship. Has democracy become too messy and fluid to handle the demands of long-term strategic planning?
by Mike Barber May 1 at 12:35 PM

In terms of the Asia-Pacific: yes China will be a greater threat but geography matters. Russia will remain the biggest threat to Canada due to both proximity and the clash of interests. China might care about the arctic but it also cares about a lot of other places that it can get to first.
by smsaideman May 1 at 12:35 PM

The advantage Canada has as a middle power is that it does not and cannot confront everything. It has to make choices. Grand strategy really is about that--prioritizing. Roland had a comment a few pages down about Arctic/continental defence first and then multilateral efforts abroad. That would be a start.
by smsaideman May 1 at 12:36 PM

Re: Grand strategy- problem with something like a whole or government approach or extrapolating current problems into the future is how wrong they can often end up being. I doubt anyone expected that Canada would see a mission like Afghanistan in 1992- so what sort of principals should guide our strategy for 2022?
by MahmudNaqi May 1 at 12:36 PM

Both of you seem unimpressed by PM Harper's approach to Afghanistan and policy management!
by pmlagasse May 1 at 12:36 PM

Steve, they tried to do a whole-of-gov't fragile states policy six years ago. Far as I know, it's still sitting on a shelf in the Pearson building... So, I agree re: optimal approach, but I also don't think this is just a Harper problem.
by jennifersalahub May 1 at 12:36 PM

Is our government capable of devising a picture of how it would like Canada to be positioned in world affairs and how it would plan to get there?
by Richard Quigley May 1 at 12:36 PM

Ok, let's stick with the impact of Afghanistan for a bit longer. Roland noted that civilian departments are being neglected and have been sidelined in Canadian foreign policy. Steve noted that these civilian departments are very limited in their ability to contribute counter-insurgency and nation-building efforts, and that the military has to shore up the civil side of things as a result. Is there a way to augment the ability of civilian departments to deploy alongside the CF on these types of missions in the future? Or is the future of Canadian 'whole of government' interventions doomed to be military-centric?
by pmlagasse May 1 at 12:38 PM

 

US did develop grand strategies over time--containment, detente, etc. The Canadian political system, especially with majority govt, gives PM power to make decisions including those that bind successors--treaties, arms procurement.
by smsaideman May 1 at 12:38 PM

The funny thing, Jennifer, is that Martin did want a defence review and did want to do things differently--put eggs into one basket rather than many to have influence over how the forces are used. That was the Kandahar decision.
by smsaideman May 1 at 12:38 PM

@pmlagasse would that be a bad thing, if we could train the military to do those things well?
by jennifersalahub May 1 at 12:38 PM

@Mike Barber I would say that the US (being a democracy) has had a pretty stable grand-strategy even with the transition between Bush-Obama.
by terrar May 1 at 12:39 PM

Does Whole-of-Government necessarily mean the military will dominate? The experts are answering... bit.ly #cdnpoli cc: @CDFAI
by TheCIC via twitter May 1 at 12:39 PM

Phil, in order to do whole of government well, the three main pieces need to operate similarly. You cannot have one that adapts on the ground and another micromanaged from Ottawa--that leads to conflict and a lack of synchronization.
by smsaideman May 1 at 12:39 PM

@jennifersalahub Good question, Jennifer. I suspect many people would see it as a problem, but I certainly take your point.
by pmlagasse May 1 at 12:39 PM

On the civilian side of the Afghan mission, I'm less dismissive of others of the role of DFAIT and CIDA. They did what they were asked to do. The military would take ground and then say it's up to the civilians to establish "governance." Let me tell you: taking ground is a lot easier than establishing government overnight in a place where people are wary of outsiders and outsiders' motives.
by rolandparis May 1 at 12:40 PM

So, I think attention needs to be paid to how each piece makes decisions in addition to having someone close to the PM overseeing the entire effort. Process matters and if they have very different processes, never going to have good coordination.
by smsaideman May 1 at 12:41 PM

@smsaideman Indeed. I've never been able to get a straight answer as to why the WGA FS strategy went nowhere. I don't think it was a change of government thing. And, Canada piloted the approach in Haiti, but...then we get the hierarchical ATF.
by jennifersalahub May 1 at 12:41 PM

To add to Roland's point--this stuff that the civs were doing in Kandahar was much farther from their expertise and training and preparation (insurance?) than the military. In addition to having a harder task.
by smsaideman May 1 at 12:42 PM

@pmlagasse It's something I'm thinking about thinking about...
by jennifersalahub May 1 at 12:42 PM

What can the Canadian government do to ensure that DND/CF, DFAIT, and CIDA operate more effectively on these types of operations in the future? Do we need to increase civilian capacity or is it more a question of better employing and coordinating the resources we have?
by pmlagasse May 1 at 12:44 PM

Oh, and to a twitter question: I have no idea why Canada is pulling out of NATO AWACS program. This is not expensive compared to lots of other programs. Canada as a middle power must invest in multilateralism--just does not have the capability to operate on its own.
by smsaideman May 1 at 12:44 PM

My impression is that CDN "whole of government" coordination improved a great deal in Kandahar, and to a lesser extent in Ottawa, over the course of the combat mission in Afghanistan. But one problem is that now that the big part of the mission is over, there seems to be a return to business as usual in Ottawa. Ironically, efforts to derive whole-of-government lessons on whole-of-government coordination have not gone very far, because bureaucratic stove-piping is so deeply embedded in the system: party for legal reasons (ministerial accountability), party for cultural reasons (departments work differently), and partly because of plain ol' turfiness.
by rolandparis May 1 at 12:44 PM

Which gets to a larger point about Canadian grand strategy and Afghanistan--Canada needs to work with others, so Afghanistan, Libya are not radical exceptions to Canadian values but a part of re-investing in a key means for maintaining Canadian security and Canadian influence in the world--NATO as a multilateral institution not just sucking up to US.
by smsaideman May 1 at 12:45 PM

@rolandparis But isn't that the problem with the WGA as it's been implemented in Canada. It's not participatory, drawing on everyone's strengths - it's directive. From DND to CIDA and DFAIT. (And, I agree with Steve re: problems of not having enough field staff.)
by jennifersalahub May 1 at 12:45 PM

Re: Whole of government approaches, would civil military relations during deployments be made easier if CIDA & DFAIT were merged?
by MahmudNaqi May 1 at 12:45 PM

I think that if we want to have civilian agencies involved in conflict/post-conflict areas, you almost need to have specialized departments within these agencies that have the personnel with the proper training, education, experience etc. In Afghanistan you had people who had never left Canada. Additionally, they need to be supported w/ same pysch and reintegration assistance on return
by terrar May 1 at 12:45 PM

@smsaideman Also hard to do a lot when where is only one CIDA rep embedded in Kandahar...
by jennifersalahub May 1 at 12:45 PM

RT @MahmudNaqi: watching the @TheCIC 's live chat with @rolandparis @smsaideman @pmlagasse and eating lunch. life is swell.
by TheCIC via twitter May 1 at 12:45 PM

. @rolandparis worries about "return to business as usual" in Ottawa post-#Afghanistan. Tune in for more... bit.ly #cdnpoli
by TheCIC via twitter May 1 at 12:46 PM

I don't know if CIDA and DFAIT need to be merged, but they do need to develop some capacity to go beyond their traditional work. They need to train personnel and give them the tools and support (again, veterans type benefits) so that they can really PRT in the future.
by smsaideman May 1 at 12:47 PM

On civilian capacity, there have indeed been efforts (led by the Stabilization and Reconstruction Task Force in DFAIT) to establish a roster of civilian personnel who can be deployed on such missions from across the government, and a corresponding effort at the international level (again, with Canada very much involved) to build civilian deployment capacity from emerging and developing countries for UN peace operations. In short, there is some movement on this, both at home and internationally.
by rolandparis May 1 at 12:47 PM

Steve just brought up multilateralism. Roland mentioned it in his piece, too. Has the Harper government's foreign and defence policy been sufficiently multilateral? If not, what can be done to make it more so? Or is that concept even still relevant to Canada today?
by pmlagasse May 1 at 12:47 PM

Does #Harper appreciate multilateralism in Cdn foreign policy? The experts are weighing in. bit.ly #FutureofFighting
by TheCIC via twitter May 1 at 12:49 PM

Phil, this government is both very multilateral and very not. Sending trainers back to A-stan, the discussion of post 2014 SOF, Libya were all very multilateral things to do. Supporting allies. But when it comes to trade, supply management thus far trumps cooperation. Same for climate change.
by smsaideman May 1 at 12:49 PM

Do you believe that Canada or its allies will again be involved in such a major nation building mission as Afghanistan that would even necessitate a whole of government approach with DFAIT and CIDA playing any role?
by terrar May 1 at 12:49 PM

Only 10 minute left in our convo on #FutureofFighting: ask us your Qs now... or forever hold your peace. bit.ly
by TheCIC via twitter May 1 at 12:49 PM

for last part of your question, multilateralism will always be relevant because most of the problems CA faces require cooperation--SARS, cyber, climate change, proliferation, etc.
by smsaideman May 1 at 12:49 PM

I think for the short term, Canada and allies will resist nation building efforts (notice how fast they ran away from Libya). Eventually, the folks burned by A-stan will move on and new politicians will make commitments that lead to such efforts.
by smsaideman May 1 at 12:51 PM

Important follow up from @terrar: should we expect the CF, DFAIT, and CIDA to be involved in major nation-building efforts in the future? The Obama White House recently hinted that it was wary of these types of interventions.
by pmlagasse May 1 at 12:51 PM

And yes, I have a stake in this question--standing bet with Phil ;)
by smsaideman May 1 at 12:51 PM

Re: multilateralism. This really raises a bigger (and in my view more important) set of issues than whether CDN government departments can cooperate better in the field. Our multilateralism today is of a very pinched variety: ad hoc coalitions of the willing are quite different from the kind of multilateralism that Canada has preferred to practice for many decades. What some people don't seem to recognize is that it is in Canada's *interest* to promote the bigger version of multilateralism.
by rolandparis May 1 at 12:51 PM

Sort of related to future deployments. On the anniversary of Bin Laden's assassination, I'm interested in what you think about the Canadian military deploying drones. Do we need soldiers like we used to?
by Anouk Dey May 1 at 12:52 PM

To tag along with the question, Do you think we'll see a long term shift towards training or regional or national peacekeepers rather than direct Canadian troop deployments?
by MahmudNaqi May 1 at 12:52 PM

I think it makes sense to do both mini-lateralism and big multi-lateralism depending on the issue. Libya depended on votes from Arab League and UN, but the war involved only those willing to do the heavy lifting but via NATO channels
by smsaideman May 1 at 12:53 PM

In reply to Anouk: Canada has already deployed drones, in Afghanistan. We rented them. Israeli-made. But they were not armed.
by rolandparis May 1 at 12:54 PM

Anouk, it depends on what you want to do. Only infantry can control the ground, but if you want to defeat a dictator and have allies on the ground, then you don't need to send in troops. Drones have significant but limited capabilities. Not a tool for all occasions.
by smsaideman May 1 at 12:54 PM

On anniversary of #BinLaden's "targeted killing," we're talking Canadian drones... bit.ly Tune in!
by TheCIC via twitter May 1 at 12:55 PM

I think Canada learned the lesson of Bosnia and Rwanda: UN missions mean very limited control over what the troops are doing and that can mean a great deal of trouble. So, I expect CA esp under Harper to continue focus on NATO missions and not UN missions.
by smsaideman May 1 at 12:55 PM

@smsaideman after all things are said and done in Afghanistan do you personally think it was worth the effort and do you think all our hard won work will still exist in 10 years after we are gone ?
by echohawk May 1 at 12:56 PM

We've only got a few minutes left, so let me ask a few quick questions: 1) Does Canada spend enough on the armed forces? 2) Beyond grand strategy, is there a significant defence question that is being overlooked by Canadian politicians today?
by pmlagasse May 1 at 12:57 PM

Further on the multilateralism. This issue is connected to the relationship between military and diplomatic tools of our foreign policy. Canada seems to be less interested, not just in DFAIT, but in diplomacy these days. Some people think that taking "strong, principled stands" equals influence and leadership and moral rectitude. But look more closely: many of the stands that Canada is taking are inconsistent and wavering (China; democracy in Egypt) and extreme relative to our traditional positions (unquestioning support of Netanyahu government; warlike language on Iran). What's moral and principled about that? And what influence has Canada gained from it?
by rolandparis May 1 at 12:58 PM

Echohawk--nice way to ask two distinct questions. On the latter, I am not sure what will remain in 2021. In terms of was it worth it for the years CA was there? I think Canada made a big difference, improved people's lives, and also furthered Canadian interests. So, I think so, but I am cautious here because we are taking about something like 160 lives lost. But I am pretty sure that the Canadians saved far more than that. So, yes worth it but not sure it will endure.
by smsaideman May 1 at 12:58 PM

Does Canada spend enough? With the rest of the comparison countries cutting, Canada will not look that out of proportion. But it is how that money is spent (F-35 is huge money suck, so CA may spend a lot but not get much for it) is the question.
by smsaideman May 1 at 1:00 PM

Cdn military may spent a lot of $$$, but not get much for it. @smsaideman concludes our chat. bit.ly #cdnpoli thx @CDFAI
by TheCIC via twitter May 1 at 1:01 PM

For second question: I think there needs to be a bit more attention paid to finessing civil-military dynamics. No danger of coup, but how the F-35 played out, how MacKay's helo scandal played out, all kind of worrisome. Still, civ-mil is always tricky and Canada's civ-mil relations are better than most.
by smsaideman May 1 at 1:01 PM

Thanks for joining us everyone. It was a great discussion. Please come back again next week when we'll be discussing homeland security and the security situation in the Canadian Arctic!
by pmlagasse May 1 at 1:02 PM

I think the thing I recommend the strongest is that Canadians must think more in comparison (not with just the US)--that the problems faced, the opportunities and constraints ahead are not unique to Canada. CA went to Kandahar but the rest of the alliance showed up to varying degrees and have the same questions about intel failure in 2006, sustainability, etc.
by smsaideman May 1 at 1:02 PM

And big thanks to Roland Paris and Steve Saideman for taking part and answer our questions!
by pmlagasse May 1 at 1:02 PM

Thanks, @smsaideman, @rolandparis, @pmlagasse! That was fun. cc @TheCIC, @CDFAI #FutureofFighting
by jennifersalahub via twitter May 1 at 1:02 PM

Diplomacy just doesn't seem to be in the DNA of the current government. It's attempt at multilateralism (G8/G20 meetings; campaign for UN Security Council seat) seemed awkward and insincere. And the results showed. No, the current government is much more comfortable painting the world in black and white, and using extreme language to proclaim our support for the white. That's where the use of military icons fits in.
by rolandparis May 1 at 1:02 PM

Thanks, Phil, Steve and all. It was fun.
by rolandparis May 1 at 1:03 PM

Thx @pmlagasse, @smsaideman & @rolandparis for riveting kick-off chat on #FutureofFighting. Next week, round 2! bit.ly
by TheCIC via twitter May 1 at 1:03 PM

thank you for answering my questions and for the great convo :)
by echohawk May 1 at 1:03 PM

Thanks for letting me get the last word in and thanks for the great questions. We could not get to them all but tweet us and we can.
by smsaideman May 1 at 1:03 PM

 

 


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