Summer 2007 (Volume V, Issue II)

Promoting new understanding and improvement of Canadian foreign and defence policy.

In this issue:

Message from the President - Robert S. Millar

Welcome to the Summer 2007 issue of “The Dispatch”. In the previous issue of this newsletter, I made the mistake of suggesting there might be an election in 2007; silly of me to wander into the national pastime of armchair politics. Having learned that lesson, I will stick to the issues at hand, the articles presented here by six of CDFAI’s Fellows. The Middle East and Afghanistan are constant issues in the media and not surprisingly, have captured the interest of three Fellows in their essays. The present and future composition of parts of the Canadian Forces and Haiti are other areas that have attracted interest in this issue.

In this newsletter there are six thought provoking articles:

  1. Governance and Instability in Haiti – David Carment. David takes a look at this nation, post the 2006 elections. He describes four fundamental challenges still facing Haiti on the path toward democracy and good governance. He lists Canada’s recent key contributions and indicates what is still lacking as the primary challenge to economic recovery.

  2. A Plea for Recognition of Combat – Anne Irwin. In the summer of 2006 as an anthropologist, Anne was embedded in a PPCLI platoon, outside the wire in Afghanistan, for approximately three months. From this experience she had a chance to better understand the socialization that occurs in soldiers living daily with the immediacy of combat operations. It is from this perspective that she writes this article.

  3. Some Considerations for International Involvement in the Israel-Palestinian Conflict – Tami Amanda Jacoby. Tami recognizes that Israel and the Palestinians are unable to overcome the impasse in their conflict in the absence of a third party. She proposes that the international community as a whole, without the US, can play a more productive role in the conflict by taking a back seat and supporting regional initiatives. She offers that Canada is well situated to assist and to take advantage of the new circumstances configured by the absence of an official peace process.

  4. Understanding the Politics of the Iraq War – Alexander Moens. Alex’s essay reviews the aftermath of the recent US mid term election and the impact on President Bush and the chess match manoeuvring underway in America related to this war. He ends by postulating that neither the Democrats or Republicans may want a quick US withdrawal, each for different reasons and, given Canada’s role in Afghanistan, nor should this country want a quick withdrawal either.

  5.  What Happened to the Promise of Large Defence Spending Increases? – Andrew Richter. Having started from the perspective that there is a significant shortfall between promises and reality, Andrew suggests that the Canadian Forces can no longer avoid confronting several difficult issues. At the top of his list is whether Canada can continue to operate and maintain three (relatively) modern services capable of participating in mid-intensity combat operations. His solution is service prioritization, whereby one service receives the majority of the capital equipment budget. Although he admits there may be other options, his bottom line is the Forces must start planning for the consequences of continued low defence spending.

  6. Vector Next? The Future Air Force – Scot Robertson. Given what he sees in the procurement plans, Scot interprets this to mean the Air Force is on a vector away from a front-line combat capability. The question that he leaves with the reader is how to transform an air force that was once largely focused on air superiority/interception capability, and for the present seems largely focused on airlift, into a force that will be able to conduct operations to meet a challenging and complex future.

Enjoy this issue and let us know what you think about the articles.


CDFAI - Major Research Paper

Report on Canada, National Security and Outer Space by Dr. James Fergusson, CDFAI Fellow and Steve James was released on Monday, June 25.

CDFAI - Quarterly Research Paper

The Information Gap: Why the Canadian Public Doesn’t Know More About its Military by Sharon Hobson, CDFAI Fellow was released on June 14.

CDFAI - The Nexen Paper Series

The second paper, of a three-part series was released on June 11. The paper, Nigeria: Mapping Political Economic & Business Scenarios in the Post-Obasanjo Era was written by Stephen Nairne, University of British Columbia.

CDFAI - Major Research Paper

Report on Canada, National Security and Outer Space by Dr. James Fergusson, CDFAI Fellow and Steve James was released on Monday, June 25. To download the PDF file, please click here


CDFAI 2007 Annual Ottawa Conference

Canada as the “Emerging Energy Superpower”: Testing the Case
Ottawa Congress Centre
55 Colonel By Drive
Ottawa, Ontario

Monday, October 29, 2007
7:30 am – 5:00 pm

 Keynote Speakers:  Hon. Jim Prentice & Hon. Gary Lunn

This year’s one-day conference will examine the proposition, first put forward by Prime Minister Stephen Harper at the G8 2006 summer meeting, that Canada is becoming an “energy superpower”. The conference will also examine the implications and ramifications of such a development. The results of a national public opinion poll will be released at the conference on these themes:

  • National Poll Results
  • Life as an Energy Superpower
  • Implications for Canada-US Relations
  • Critical Energy Infrastructure Protection
  • Energy, Environment and the Arctic

The cost of this year’s conference is $225.00. The fee will include the conference session (four panels), two breaks and lunch. 


Prague Securities Studies Institute Conference

On June 5-6, Dr. David Bercuson represented CDFAI as a guest panelist at the “Democracy and Security: Core Values and Sound Policies” conference which was held in Prague, Czech Republic. 

The choice of Prague as a venue for the conference underlines the relevance of the topic for recent developments in Central and Eastern Europe. This conference was a unique opportunity for debate and discussion by prominent and leading dissidents, pro-democracy campaigners and political leaders to examine anew the nexus between democracy and international security by analyzing recent developments and events.


2007 CDAI Symposium: Call for Papers

10th Annual CDAI Graduate Student Symposium

“Canada’s Security Interests – The Lessons of History”
Royal Military College, Kingston, ON
October 26-27, 2007

The 10th Annual Graduate Student Symposium sponsored by the Conference of Defence Associations Institute (CDAI) in collaboration with Queen’s University, the War Studies Programme at the Royal Military College (RMC) of Canada, the DND-funded SDF Programme, General Dynamics Canada, and David Scott, will be held at RMC in Kingston, Ontario, on 26-27 October 2007.
Individuals are invited to submit a one page (maximum) proposal synopsis to [email protected] no later than 21 September 2007.  Please include the title of your presentation, your full name, institutional affiliation, program of study, and full contact information (telephone number, email address, and mailing address)

The acceptable range of presentation topics includes: national security and defence; security and defence alliances, peace enforcement, and peace support operations; conflict resolution; security and defence related economics; intra-state conflict issues; and terrorism and other non-traditional threats to security.
The winning paper will be awarded the David Scott-GD Canada Prize, valued at $3000.00. The second and third place prizes are valued at $2000.00 and $1000.00.  
(Please note that CF members who receive a full-time salary are not eligible to receive a cash prize. Their work will, however, be recognized, and a non-cash prize will be awarded in lieu.)
Funding for student presenters may be made available, upon request, to assist with travel costs.



2007 Ross Munro Media Award



Nominations are invited for the 2007 Ross Munro Media Award.

The Ross Munro Media Award was initiated in 2002 by the Conference of Defence Associations (CDA) in collaboration with the Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute (CDFAI). Its purpose is to recognize, annually, one Canadian journalist who has made a significant and outstanding contribution to the general public’s understanding of issues that relate to Canada’s defence and security.  

The recipient of the Award will receive a replica of the Ross Munro statue, along with a cash award of $2,500.  

The past recipients of this prestigious award are Stephen Thorne, Garth Pritchard, Sharon Hobson, Bruce Campion-Smith, and Christie Blatchford.  

Any Canadian (or non-Canadians for that matter) may nominate a journalist for the award. Nominations must be in writing and be accompanied by a summary of reasons for the nomination, and samples of the journalist’s work. Further details are available at, click: Ross Munro Award. Nominations must be received by 1 September 2007, and should be addressed to:


The Ross Munro Media Award will be presented on Friday, 16 November 2007, at the Vimy Award dinner that will be held in the LeBreton Galley of the Canadian War Museum.   Her Excellency, the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, Governor-General of Canada, will be the guest of honour. For more information, including ticket orders for the Award dinner, contact the Conference of Defence Associations at: fax (613) 236-8191, e-mail [email protected], or telephone (613) 236-9903.


Interview with Anne Irwin: Military honours in Afghanistan deserved?

Jul 22, 2007  - TORONTO STAR
by Andrew Chung

All Canadians serving in Kandahar - whether cooks at the air base or soldiers `outside the wire' who could encounter bombs or Taliban bullets - get the same medal.

Today in Kandahar, according to the BBC's weather service, there will be intense sunshine and the temperature will be 38 degrees Celsius, a welcome respite from the even hotter days typical of this time of year.

Southern Afghanistan is a scorching, dusty, rather inhospitable place at the best of times. And so for all those Canadian Forces members stationed there, it's by no means an easy walk in High Park.

But at Kandahar Airfield, there are at least some comforts of home. Proper showers, for instance. Hot meals. Tim Hortons, Pizza Hut, Burger King. Video games. Music rooms.

Outside the base, however, the comforts are much different: perhaps a patch of smooth desert sand on which to rest your sleeping bag, or maybe a packet of grape juice crystals, or a night free of gunfire.

"Outside the wire," as troops there put it, is a realm that carries extraordinary dangers. A man on a motorbike could be a suicide bomber. Hidden at the roadside could be a bomb.

Now, a researcher who spent months embedded with troops in Afghanistan says it's time for Canada to recognize those who spend a significant amount of their tour outside the wire, for the risks they face to life and limb on a regular basis.

It's a proposal that has taken shape as deaths mount in Afghanistan. A bomb killed six soldiers on July 4, bringing the total number of Canadian casualties to 66 soldiers and one diplomat.

"Kandahar Airfield, as tough as it is – it's hot and a lot of hard work – is a risk," notes Anne Irwin, a military anthropologist at the University of Calgary's Centre for Strategic and Military Studies. "But it pales significantly in comparison to the risks for people who are living outside the wire, facing that every minute. "The soldiers I've spoken to feel that the very special additional risks and contributions they make is not adequately formally recognized," says Irwin, who wrote about the issue in the July edition of Dispatches, the newsletter of the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute.

They perceive a lack of recognition in the fact that everyone deployed to Afghanistan gets the same medal to place on their uniforms. There are actually two medals for soldiers, depending on when they were deployed after the mission began in 2001: either the Southwest Asia Service Medal, if they were part of the U.S.-led Operation Enduring Freedom, or, for troops there now, the General Campaign Star with an "ISAF" bar, for serving under NATO's International Security Assistance Force. Civilians get the General Service Medal.

All personnel get same medal regardless of the job they do. A cook, for instance, would get the same medal as an infantryman who spent three weeks in the field surviving blasts by improvised explosive devices and getting shot at by the Taliban.

And the impression back home is the same. For the most part, media accounts show those on the front lines and rarely acknowledge that the majority of personnel overseas spend most if not all of their time inside the relatively safe confines of the air base. It's a small minority, Irwin emphasizes, who are always on the outside.

"So everyone thinks, `Oh, you were fighting the Taliban, out on convoys,'" she says. "Well, no, a lot were going to Tim Horton's in the morning."

There are pros and cons to the idea. And since rumours that the military was going to implement a new recognition system began swirling last fall, the issue is being debated among the rank and file and on the Internet.

Some say it would be too hard to figure out who should receive extra recognition. What if someone who's not in the infantry gets ambushed? What about someone who is outside the wire for, say, just a day?

Others say it would create divisions within the ranks – an elite – and work against the ethos of teamwork that's such a big part of the troops' indoctrination. 

"Yeah, that's what we need – more `us and them,'" one soldier writes on the web site "Frankly, a guy who is working 16 hours trying to get a Nyala (armoured vehicle) back into service is doing as much for the mission as they guy at the `sharp end.'"

"We do our jobs, we know we do our jobs, that's all that matters," writes another. "Glory hounds need not apply."

However, others say, in the words of another soldier, that with no extra recognition, "how do we tell whether a CF member spent his/her time in a mess hall or on (reconnaissance) patrol?"

And then there's this: "I think it's a great idea. A lack of pride and esprit de corps is a problem in our army, where commonality of uniforms and decorations does not accurately denote the military `resumé' as is the case in other nations."

The military, far from indicating which direction it's leaning in, won't even say whether it's considering implementing a revised recognition system.

"I can tell you that the entire military honours rewards and recognition system is always being looked at and reviewed, in light of the operations we're doing now and to come up with the most appropriate recognition for what our personnel do," says John Knoll, spokesperson for the Department of National Defence.

Irwin proposes two new forms of recognition. She says new medals aren't necessary. "Too many medals and their value diminishes," she contends. One would be a rosette or extra bar to place on the Campaign medal's ribbon, for those who spend a significant amount of time outside the wire, including those working on provincial reconstruction teams, such as engineers, communications support people and drivers.

"Or maybe a piece of barbed wire," says Irwin, "in gold or something, which seems to capture the imagination because being outside the wire has become part of their discourse."

As well, infantry soldiers who are regularly fighting the enemy would receive a combat badge to sew on their uniforms.

The proposal would be unprecedented in Canada. This country has never discriminated among personnel roles with a specific honour for those in combat action, defence department historians indicate. 

However, it's a protocol that has existed for decades south of the border. Since 1944, the U.S. army has handed out special badges to those who engage in active ground combat. They include a Combat Infantryman Badge for soldiers, special forces and rangers, and a Combat Medical Badge for the medics accompanying them.

The Combat Infantryman Badge was an "incentive to get people to become infantrymen, and also the medics in the mud with them had to be recognized as well," says Lt.-Col. Jerome Kuczero, assistant chief of the military awards branch.

In 2005, as the insurgency raged in Iraq, the U.S. Army instituted the Combat Action Badge, for those who were neither infantry nor medics but were nevertheless "engaged by or with the enemy," says Kuczero.

"If you were hit by an (improvised explosive device)," he says, "you qualify."

This would be important even for those inside Kandahar air base. It periodically gets attacked by rockets. In July 2006, an attack there injured 10 people.

Capt. Michael O'Leary, who works out of the Royal Canadian Regiment headquarters in London, Ont., is aware of the debate about medals. He moderates some discussions on

  "My own opinion, based on historic example, is that clasps or devices added to medals have fairly specific terms of reference and are defined in geographical or chronological terms," he reasons. "If you went outside the wire, well, how far, how long, what had to happen? There are too many factors, each of which has its own sliding scale.

"And if you look at it now, nobody goes up to a veteran on Remembrance Day and grills him on where he was in Italy, and for how long, to decide if they're going to respect him. The fact that he has that war medal is enough."

But Italy veteran and merchant seaman Ray Cameron, who lives in Scarborough, says he thinks it may be a good idea to give extra recognition.

"The boys that are out on the front line should be distinguished from those behind the scenes," the 82-year-old says. "They're the ones whose lives are at risk. Going back to World War II, say the Italian medal, I was going up and down the coast on a gasoline tanker. But when I toured the battlefields in Italy, I realized that the boys on the front line were more at risk than I was. They were right in the actual battle, though I did see action."

Irwin says that military officials have sometimes asked her whether implementing such a system would create an elite. "But my response is, `You've already created an elite.' The way the military recognizes excellence and performance and valour is through badges and rank. So not to do it is problematic."

She adds that lack of recognition has a well-documented correlation to post-traumatic stress disorder.

U.S. officials say their system works just fine.

"Honestly we've never had a problem. It's more of a morale booster and incentive," says Denise Harris, the military awards branch chief of policy.

Sometimes there are complaints from those who didn't get a combat badge, she adds. "But that's because they didn't engage with the bad guys."



Governance and Instability in Haiti 

by David Carment

A series of elections took place in Haiti throughout 2006; these electoral exercises served to secure democratic governance in the country, and bring much needed legitimacy to the Haitian government. The primary goal of the elections was to replace the interim government with a broadly legitimate, democratically elected one. The first round of Presidential elections took place in February 2006 under the supervision of numerous international election observers. There was some controversy in the days following the vote and some protests, particularly following the discovery of a cache of blank votes in a dump. However, following a decision to discount blank votes from the count, René Préval secured victory with 51% of the popular vote. International observers declared the process to be free and fair and, just as importantly, most Haitians accepted the result as well. This first round victory ensured that a second round of voting was not required for the Presidential election. A second round of elections took place in April for the deputies and senators of the National Assembly. Finally, municipal elections were held at the beginning of December 2006. Observers agreed that all three elections were generally free and transparent, barring minor irregularities; however, the low level of participation in the second round and municipal elections did cause some concern. Following the election of Préval, international aid flowed into the country and slight improvements in governance began to follow, especially with respect to the delivery of government services, democratic participation and human rights. However, government transparency and the rule of law continue to pose significant challenges going forward



  • Security continues to be the major issue;
  • A lack of security impedes human development and acts as a barrier to increased foreign investment;
  • There remains massive poverty and unemployment, with no indication that improvement is likely in the short-term;
  • Electoral mechanisms are in place but, the successes of 2006 notwithstanding, the system is complex and elections remain difficult to implement;
  • Parliamentary paralysis, corruption and a lack of government accountability are key challenges.

Haiti faces four fundamental challenges on the path toward democracy and good governance. Security continues to be the major issue, with regular clashes between urban gangs, the Haitian National Police (PNH) and the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). Second, massive poverty and unemployment are directly related to the involvement of young Haitians in gang and criminal activity. Insecurity is a major obstacle to sustainable development and foreign investment. Third, corruption and gaps in governmental accountability remain, and finally the recently reformed parliamentary system has proven difficult to operationalize.


Challenges in the rule of law sector:

  • Lack of trained judges and poor pay for judges;
  • No national registry of court cases and long pre-trial detention;
  • Lack of judicial independence;
  • Antiquated Napoleonic code allowing arrests only in case of flagrance, when a criminal is caught committing a crime.

In term of security, the incompetence and corruption of the Police Nationale d’ Haiti (PNH) has forced the MINUSTAH to maintain responsibility for security in the country and has allowed for an increase in criminal activity in recent months. The judicial sector remains burdened by a lack of training and resources, as well as an antiquated penal code; as a result, the Haitian government and MINUSTAH remain unable to meaningfully reduce the level of crime and gang activity in the country. A lack of courthouses and prison facilities; competent, well paid, and uncorrupted judges; and other elements of infrastructure continue to impede judicial procedures.

Economically, Haiti faces many hurdles. It ranks 74th on the UNDP’s Human poverty index (UNDP, HPI-1) and 154th on the general Human Development Index. 65% of its inhabitants live under the poverty line and the country possesses few industries. The GDP per capita is $450(current US$, World Bank 2005 est.) Remittances represent a quarter of Haiti’s GDP and are an important part of many families’ annual budget. The black market is also vibrant with an incredible number of goods from Miami and other North American cities sold in the street of Port-au-Prince every day; the government receives no tax revenue on any of these transactions. 

Despite its recent electoral successes, Haiti remains faced with significant difficulties when dealing with issues of day-to-day governance. Haiti’s constitution – based on the French system – calls for a certain percentage of senators and deputies to face re-election every two years. This requirement places a significant burden on limited government capacity. Haitian elections are costly, complex in term of logistics and a source of political instability. Further, the absence of party platforms, financing, and cohesion tends to increase the independence of candidates once elected, thereby reducing their accountability. The central role of the President in the system and the low turnout for the election of senators and deputies are also problematic insofar as they reduce the credibility and effectiveness of the checks and balances in the system. Historically, the Parliament has never had a powerful role in the governance of the country. This issue is unlikely to be addressed in the short term given the lack of institutional tradition and the population’s limited experience with democracy. Cultivating and demonstrating the benefits of a strong democratic system in which the opposition plays a vital role will likely take time. 

Geographically, the political dominance of Port-au-Prince within the country is almost total and leaves many regions excluded from the system of economic and social redistribution. This increases discontent and reduces the legitimacy of the central government. Although the government of Haiti is officially in control of all rural areas, many parts of the countryside are under the influence of powerful local individuals or groups who control economic resources; free of any real oversight, such local powerbrokers exercise power arbitrarily, often with significant negative consequences for the affected population.


Canada’s key contributions
Haiti is a priority country for Canadian development and foreign policy. Consequently, several departments of the Canadian government have contributed to the reconstruction of the country. Contributions include:

  • CIDA and Foreign Affairs have earmarked $520 million for the reconstruction and development of Haiti from July 2006 to September 2011.
  • Canada has disbursed more than $130 million for reconstruction since 2004.
  • 100 Canadian police are currently stationed in Haiti.
  • In 2004, Canada sent 500 Canadian Forces members under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Jim Davis to Haiti as part of Operation Halo.

Although these contributions are important, security sector reform has not yet received the attention and the funding it should. As outlined above, security is currently the primary challenge to economic recovery and sustainable development. A complete revamp of the security sector is needed, including the training of an efficient police force, major improvements to the penitentiary infrastructure and a complete redesign of the judiciary system. While delivering humanitarian aid is important and should serve to palliate the basic needs of the Haitian population, long-term stability will be achieved only when rule of law is respected and a functioning judicial system is in place. 



A Plea for Recognition of Combat

by Anne Irwin

Of the thousands of Canadian servicemen and women who have served and are currently serving in Afghanistan, there is only a very small minority whose duties require them regularly to venture “outside the wire”, that is, to leave the relative safety confines of the main coalition forces’ base at Kandahar Air Field (KAF). Among this minority there is an even smaller subgroup of soldiers who have actually engaged in combat with the enemy. Yet, unless they have been recognized for exemplary valour, mentioned in dispatches, or wounded, there is no additional recognition for these soldiers beyond the SWASM, the South West Asia Service Medal (Afghanistan). According to National Defence’s Directorate of History and Heritage, “[t]he medal with bar is awarded for 30 days cumulative service after 11 September 2001 in the theatre of operations ... The theatre of operations is defined as the land, sea, or air spaces of Afghanistan, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, the Persian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Arabian Sea, Gulf of Aden, Red Sea, Suez Canal and those parts of the Indian Ocean north of 5° South Latitude and west of 68° East Longitude”.1 In contrast, awards for valour are given to service members whose exemplary performance was witnessed, documented, staffed, and approved by the appropriate authorities. 

This short paper argues that this recognition is inadequate for those who spend most of their tour outside the wire, and that some additional form of acknowledgement of the increased hardship, risk and sacrifice entailed in leaving the wire and in engaging in combat is appropriate. While no one would denigrate the hardships faced by those who spend their tour in KAF, there is a significant increase in risk to those who are employed outside the wire, and especially increased hazards and deprivation for those employed in combat or close support roles. These service members spend weeks facing the daily menace of IEDs and threat of ambush. They must be constantly on guard and alert to possible hazards while experiencing chronic sleep deprivation. They may subsist for three weeks or more on “hard rations”, catching a few hours of sleep at a time in the little shade provided by a LAV. Their tour is marked by chronic uncertainty, not knowing from day to day how much longer it will be until they can wash or remove their body armour for more than a few minutes. A tour spent outside the wire is fundamentally and qualitatively different from a tour spent in KAF.

Soldiers have a myriad of ways of marking their own experiences and recognizing the experience of others. Some of them get tattoos in commemoration of fallen comrades and of the tour. Others create slide shows using some of the photographs and videos that are shared among the group. Some post their photos on the internet and some share their experiences in the form of blogs. Storytelling among those who have shared experiences is an important means of remembering and acknowledging the effects of the tour. Some experiences mark themselves on soldiers in the form of physical and psychological scars. The fact that some people have been reported to have made false claims to duty outside the wire and in combat is a testament to the high value placed on these experiences by soldiers themselves. 

The nation officially recognizes the sacrifices of its service members with awards such as service medals and medals for valour and exemplary service. Recruits begin their careers wearing plain, unadorned uniforms, but as they progress through the ranks and gain experience and qualifications, their accomplishments are recorded on their uniforms in the form of rank insignia, trade qualification badges, unit insignia, and tour medals. The uniform can be considered a text on which a service member’s personal military history can be read. Awards for valour, on the other hand, while certainly earned, also depend on certain acts of bravery having been witnessed by someone with the writing skills and the authority to staff the recommendation. Soldiers are aware that many acts of bravery go unwitnessed and unremarked. In fact, a number of soldiers who have been presented with awards for valour consider themselves to have received these on behalf of their entire platoon, rather than as an individual award. Most of the soldiers who have served in combat have nothing to mark this experience on their uniforms, despite the importance of that experience to their identities as soldiers.

An argument could be made that to recognize differentially those whose service in Afghanistan includes regular duties outside the wire runs the risk of creating an elite. I would argue the opposite, that, in fact, it is lack of official recognition which is likely to create a need amongst combat veterans for demonstrating their difference, and the form this may take may well be dysfunctional. There is already a level of resentment among combat veterans, resentment against DND as an institution, against those small numbers of service members who are rumoured to falsify their experiences, and resentment against leaders who have failed to provide them with an official means of commemorating the performance of their duties in combat. Since at least August of 2006 there have been persistent rumours among combat veterans that there are plans to institute a badge for combat service. If these plans are more than mere rumours they should be made public as soon as possible, lest the resentment builds. Among the combat soldiers who returned from Afghanistan last August there are widespread reports of large numbers of soldiers taking or planning on taking their releases, in part due to lack of recognition. Furthermore, research has shown that the incidence of post-traumatic stress disorder is greatly exacerbated by lack of official recognition and valuation of the traumatic events. 

A consensus seems to be building among these young veterans that they would like to see an additional bar for the SWASM medal for those who spent a significant period of time outside the wire, and for multiple tours, and a combat badge to be worn above the medals for those who were engaged in direct combat. An “outside the wire” bar would acknowledge that not all tours of Afghanistan are equivalent, while a combat badge would recognize all the unseen acts of courage under fire. Not to acknowledge appropriately the experiences of these combat veterans suggests that everyone’s tour of Afghanistan was equally onerous. Official recognition on the part of the nation of the differences in tours of Afghanistan would be both wise and just, and should be implemented as soon as possible.

e.asp?cat=3&Q_ID=34,  accessed 28 May 2006



Some Considerations for International Involvement in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

by Tami Amanda Jacoby

Former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres once said that “violence creates walls, peace creates bridges”.1 Without a doubt, violence and walls are now the principal distinguishing feature of the relationship between Israel and the Palestinians. Since the failure of the Camp David Summit and the onset of the second Palestinian Uprising since 2000, the Israeli-Palestinian peace process has stood at an impasse. In place of negotiations, both parties to the conflict have pursued unilateral actions to achieve their policy goals.

For its part, Israel has built a separation barrier between itself and the West Bank since 2002 and despite the disengagement plan enacted in 2005, which removed Jewish settlers from the Gaza Strip and two towns in the West Bank, Israeli armed forces have redeployed into Palestinian territory to root out terrorist networks and increase security controls in those areas. This has resulted in harsh limitations on the freedom of movement of Palestinians within and among their cities and towns. A host of Israeli policies such as confiscation of land and ID cards, demolition of Arab homes, bypass roads and checkpoints, limitations on freedom of movement and access to services, and more recently the suspension of transfer funds to the Palestinian Authority, have exacerbated an already volatile relationship.

Palestinians responded in their 2006 legislative elections with an overwhelming victory for Hamas, the Islamic Resistance Movement, which although popular at the grassroots level, has increased international tensions by refusing both to recognize the State of Israel and to renounce violence in its struggle against it. Since the first Palestinian Uprising, Hamas has led the armed struggle against Israel with the suicide bomber as its most lethal weapon, targeting Israeli civilians and manufacturing fear throughout Israeli society.

The rise of Hamas in the Palestinian legislative elections has resulted in widespread reassessment within the international community about the policy of supporting Palestinian institutional reform and self-rule. The Quartet’s (United States, European Union, United Nations, and Russia) performance-Based Road Map rests on conditions which support a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the renunciation of violence and terror, recognition of Israel’s right to exist and disarmament of terrorist networks. Barring the realization of these goals, the Quartet and Israel imposed a boycott on the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority, which has resulted in a massive reduction in funds to the Palestinian economy. At the same time, the Bush Administration’s ongoing war on terror has provided the overarching framework through which policy directions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are devised, undoubtedly in favour of Israel’s own war on terror and against creative solutions to relations with the democratically elected Palestinian leadership.

It is a useful exercise to explore what the international community in general and Canada in particular can offer at this arduous juncture in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to promote peace and good governance. Canada has consistently supported a two-state solution, with the State of Israel alongside a Palestinian state, legality of UN Resolutions, and final status negotiations within the context of a comprehensive peace agreement.

Recently, the Arab world has indicated its own willingness to play the role of interlocutor as witnessed by the Arab Peace Initiative initially announced at the Arab League Summit in Beirut in 2002 and reaffirmed at the Riyadh Summit in 2007. The plan offers the Palestinians the condition of Israeli withdrawal from territories occupied in 1967 and a “just” solution to the Palestinian refugee problem based on an unspecified repatriation of Palestinian refugees. In return, Arab countries would normalize relations with Israel within the context of a comprehensive peace agreement and consider the Arab-Israeli conflict to be over, once and for all. This initiative is a profound reversal of the 1967 Arab Summit meeting in Khartoum in which the defiant and rejectionist platform of “no peace with Israel”, “no recognition of Israel”, “and no agreement to negotiation with Israel” was announced. 2

For Israel, the stance of moderate Arab states is a welcome sign except that the return of Palestinian refugees is an unviable proposition considering that their incorporation into Israel would alter the delicate demographic balance that supports a Jewish democratic state based on Jewish majority decision making. The United States and other powerful extra-regional actors have not given the Arab Initiative due consideration. The United States was less than enthusiastic about this initiative considering its rejection of any peace process that includes the Assad regime in Syria, one of the countries on its “axis of evil” list.

Ignoring efforts by the Arab world to intervene in a positive way in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a mistake. Israel and the Palestinians are clearly unable to overcome the impasse in the absence of a third party. However, the lesson of the failure of both the Camp David Summit and the Road Map to promote progress is that the United States may not be the most propitious interlocutor in this conflict scenario. The Bush Administration’s ongoing campaign in Iraq has intensified anti-American sentiment throughout the Arab world to the extent that American involvement in conflict resolution efforts is seen in the most skeptical light. US superpower status and its war on terror have been perceived as imperialistic and motivated by oil interests. This perception has resulted in the widespread mobilization of militant jihadist movements bent on fighting American influence in the Arab world and in the Palestinian territories. Therefore, while the United States may be the only party to have the power and financial wherewithal to support the institutional necessities of a peace process, the international community as a whole can play a more productive role in the conflict by taking a back seat and supporting regional initiatives. At times, this may require creative collaboration in the form of track two (behind the scenes) negotiations with parties to the conflict that would otherwise be absent from official summit meetings.

Canada is well situated to take advantage of the new circumstances configured by the absence of an official peace process. For example, Canada has long played a crucial role in track two diplomatic initiatives. Canada holds the gavel of the now-defunct Refugee working group, representing one of the five multilateral working groups established in 1992 to promote involvement of the international community in the Middle East Peace Process. With a long history of working through multilateral institutions like the United Nations, the Commonwealth and La Francophonie, Canada has lent its expertise on many issues. The most prominent issue of Canadian involvement has been on refugees, as with UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency that supports and provides services to the Palestinian refugee population. As well, Canada has built a strong reputation as a provider of humanitarian assistance. The Canadian government has dispensed close to $25 million annually to the West Bank and Gaza to promote social development, institutional reform, civil society and peace-building, although direct assistance to the Palestinian Authority was suspended with the rise of the Hamas government.

In addition to having multilateral experience and efficacy in humanitarian aid, Canada has built up bilateral relations with a number of key Arab countries such as Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, as well as Syria and Lebanon, in order to promote issues of common interest such as trade and investment, disarmament, education, and cultural exchanges. As opposed to the United States, which has more openly negative relations with some of these countries, Canada’s involvement under the radar can help to build confidence, networks and personal relationships in order to contribute to an environment more conducive to peace.

Another one of Canada’s strengths is peacekeeping. Canada has participated in virtually all UN missions in the Middle East and has a strong reputation for professionalism and neutrality. Canadian expertise can be very useful for options already under discussion about a possible peacekeeping force to be stationed between Israel and the West Bank. If and when a Palestinian state is established, there will need to be a viable infrastructure at the border to normalize relations between the two states. Canadian peacekeepers, through the auspices of the United Nations and alongside contributions from other like-minded countries, can do a lot to help alleviate tensions when they arise and promote Canadian values in the Middle Eastern region. These are some of the considerations that must be contemplated by international actors such as Canada to promote peace and help bridge the walls that have built up around the present stage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.


[1] Scott, Wilson. “Israel Upgrades, Fortifies Crossings From West Bank”, Washington Post, July 30, 2005,

[2] Morris, Benny. 2001. Righteous Victims: A History of the Zionist-Arab Conflict 1881-2001, Vintage Books: New York, 345-346. 



Understanding the Politics of the Iraq War

by Alexander Moens

From 2001 till 2003, President George W. Bush showed strong skills in the exercise of presidential power. In early 2001, he led a highly successful domestic coalition that passed major tax relief and that imposed key reforms on the primary education system. After the attacks of September 11, 2001, he launched a global war against terror, toppling the Taliban, and liberating Iraqis from Saddam Hussein.

But today, Bush has lost his prestige, reputation and persuasive skills. He has also lost control of his agenda and image. The reason is simple. Bush took a considerable risk when overthrowing Saddam Hussein. In hindsight, the risk was much higher as US forces had not been given a strong plan to restore order in the wake of Saddam’s fall. Because the regime change did not produce stability in Iraq and tied down more than 100,000 US troops with near-daily casualties, Bush’s actions are defined as a political failure. Even if 80% of Iraq is stable, the 20% of instability makes the daily news and drives the political image of the war. Each week of bloodshed and instability further erodes Bush’s standing. To manage this crisis, he now relies exclusively on his constitutional command powers—commanding US Armed Forces and vetoing Congressional bills—rather than on political powers of persuasion.

A trend emerged in late summer 2006 that holds strong today.1 Two thirds of Americans have become convinced that the war in Iraq is a lost cause. Bush’s approval rating is tied to this single issue. As a result, Republicans lost control of the House and Senate in the November 2006 elections. Bush announced a new strategy in early 2007 in which he called for a surge in US troops and increased pressure on the Iraqi government to reduce sectarian violence. Polls showed that the public did not change their opinion.2 Also, for the first time a majority of Americans (52% in mid-January) believe the United States should withdraw from Iraq.3

Bush’s strategy of more boots on the ground and more embedded trainers will need to bring about a major reduction in violence in Baghdad by September 2007 if it is to turn the political dynamic for Bush--even if the final outcome of the war in Iraq is still unknown. As long as daily mayhem dominates the news from Baghdad, American public opinion is not likely to shift. Jimmy Carter’s presidential fortunes from 1979 onward were in the hands of the Iranian hostage takers in Tehran. Likewise, Bush’s political capital is now at the mercy of the perpetrators of violence in Baghdad.

Given Bush’s political trap and its control over Congress’s agenda, the Democratic Leadership is set to gradually but steadily squeeze Bush’s funding of the war until a troop withdrawal policy is in place. The Democrats feel they have a popular mandate to pull the United States out of Iraq. They also happen to have a winning political strategy. The Democratic strategy posits that as the 110th Congress moves closer to the 2008 elections, more and more Republicans will feel electoral pressure to join Democratic demands. As New York Democratic Senator Charles Schumer put it: “Make them vote over and over on an unpopular war until their resolve crumbles.”4

The strategic path mapped out by the House and Senate Democratic Leadership is not without danger. The House ‘Out-of-Iraq-Now’ Caucus can command upwards of 40 Representatives. These legislators want US troops out without any delay. Thus the House leadership has to keep them on board in any drawn-out process since Democrats have only a 31 seat majority over Republicans and the latter will hold out as long as possible before crossing the floor on Iraq. To keep the left wing on board, the Democratic leadership has to show results, i.e., substantial troop withdrawals in a reasonable time frame. At the same time, there is a deeply held public sentiment that US troops should not be made the scapegoat in this political standoff. If the Democrats are seen as anti-military or appear not to support US troops sufficiently, a public backlash against their strategy could undo all the political gain harvested from squeezing Bush.

The Democratic strategy seems to be playing out though perhaps more slowly than anticipated. In mid-February, 17 Republican House Representatives voted for the Democratic non-binding resolution disapproving of Bush’s surge strategy in Iraq. At least 7 Republican senators showed some level of support for the measure.5 When Bush requested additional funding to prosecute the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Democrats took the opportunity to attach binding troop limits to the spending bill. In early March 2007, the ‘US Troop Readiness, Veteran’s Health and Iraq Accountability Act’ which included the gradual withdrawal of American troops was introduced in the House as was a similar bill in the Senate.6

After a good deal of wrangling and procedural votes, the Democrats passed a spending bill of some $124 billion with narrow margins in both the House (218 to 208) and Senate (51-46) in late April. The Democratic strategy held as only 13 members of the “Out-of-Iraq Caucus” voted against the measure. At the core of the bill were benchmarks for the Iraqi government to reduce sectarian violence. If these were not met by July 1, US troop withdrawals would begin and wrap up by the end of 2007. Even if these benchmarks were met, the bill stated that US troop withdrawals would commence in October and be completed by March 2008.7

President Bush vetoed the Democratic spending bill on May 2, maintaining his opposition to any schedule for troop withdrawals. After allowing the Out of Iraq Caucus a quick vote on a bill to pull troops out within 90 days (which was defeated by a large margin), the Democratic leadership tabled a new version of the Iraq Accountability Act, splitting the funding bill in half by allocating only $42 billion for April through June. The remaining $53 billion is fenced off until Bush reports on the results of the surge strategy and the Iraqi government’s ability to reduce sectarian violence by no later than July 13. Subject to Bush’s report, Congress would vote on whether to release the remainder of the funds. It is indeed a “slow-bleed strategy,” as one Republican noted. It also keeps Republicans voting over and over again on Iraq. On May 10, the House voted 221-205 in favour of the two-stage funding bill.

However, Bush did not budge. Realizing that they still could not override a presidential veto and feeling the heat for immediate funding for the troops, Democratic leaders let go of their two stage bill before Memorial Day and agreed to fund Iraq (and Afghan) operations until September 2007, the end of the fiscal year. On May 24, both the House (280-142) and Senate (80-14) voted for the bill which provides $95.5 billion to the troops. Rather lamely, Bush is given the option to withhold aid if the Iraqi government does not meet various benchmarks.

After some 30 separate votes and more than 100 days of maneuvering, Bush won the battle, but all signs point to him slowly losing the war. Negotiations in this prolonged game of chicken between the Congress and the White House may well drag out until the 2008 presidential elections. Without any political game left, Bush can only point to the disastrous consequences of a US pullout and veto bills and even this last power is weakening as Republicans are likely to start peeling off. Republican House Minority Leader John Boehner and Republic Whip Roy Blunt both noted in recent weeks that Iraqi benchmarks should be put in future appropriations bills.8 Twenty-one of the thirty-five senators up for election in 2008 are Republican incumbents. They know that Iraq is the lead weight on their ankles. Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, indicated that "the handwriting is on the wall that we are going in a different direction in the fall, and I expect the president to lead it."9 There is speculation that Bush would move closer to the Baker-Hamilton recommendations in the Iraq Study Group Report of late 2006, including the idea of limiting US forces to training Iraqis.

Democrats do not expect Bush to give up easily. Possibly, they do not want the troops to get out of Iraq too quickly. They want Bush to start the retreat. Democrats may well own the ugly endgame but do not want the brunt of it before they capture the White House and increase their majority in Congress in November 2008. Since Bush’s unpopularity is tied to the war in Iraq and since the level of violence there continues to make front-page news, they want to keep Bush’s handling of Iraq as the number one political issue.

US withdrawal from Iraq is fraught with danger and is clearly a costly option. Conducting a withdrawal maneuver of forces while in contact with the enemy is usually the most difficult. Many Iraqis now cooperating with Americans would need to be evacuated. Embedded training forces would still need extra protection. A refugee crisis may ensue before or during ethnic and religious warfare. Neighbouring countries would increase their role. A big concern for Canada is that a US withdrawal from Iraq would embolden insurgents in Afghanistan and thus complicate the NATO mission in that country.


1 “Plurality Believe It Is Too Early to Tell if Surge of Troops in Iraq is Working,” The Harris Poll #44, May 23, 2007.
2 “New Bush Iraq Plan Fails to Bolster American Confidence,” ABC News, January 11, 2007. <>.
3 Gary Langer, “State of the Union: Unhappy with Bush,” February 6, 2007. <>
4 James Kitfield and Brian Friel, “The Clock Winds Down,” National Journal, May 21, 2007, p. 29.
5 David Rogers, “Senate Republicans Snarl Criticism of Bush,” Wall Street Journal, February 19, 2007.
6 Jake Tapper, “House Dems Ready for Showdown on Iraq,” ABC News, March 8, 2007.
7 Jonathan Weisman and Elizabeth Williamson, “Negotiators Agree on War-Funding Package,” Washington Post, April 24, 2007.
8 Ibid.
9 As quoted in David Broder, “Endgame Ahead,” Washington Post, May 31, 2007, p. 19.



What Happened to the Promise of Large DefenceSpending Increases? 

by Andrew Richter

In his excellent 2004 book Who Killed the Canadian Military?, historian Jack Granatstein lamented the decline of Canada’s military over the past 60 years, and concluded by suggesting that the Canadian public is primarily responsible for this development, as it has repeatedly elected governments that do not seem to care much about Canada’s armed forces.

Just a few years ago, when both the Liberals and the Conservatives were loudly proclaiming their new-found commitment to Canada’s military, it seemed as if the long slide to defence oblivion would finally be halted, and Canada’s fighting men and women would begin to see a defence force commensurate with this country’s wealth, resources, and global commitments.

However, in the aftermath of last year’s Conservative election victory, and the release this past spring of the government’s new budget, it is apparent that the brief interlude of concern for Canada’s military is now largely over, and Canadians have – as always – moved on to other fiscal priorities, be it perennial issues like health care and education, or newer, more popular concerns, like the costs associated with climate change (estimated at an eye-popping $8 billion in the “made in Canada” environmental plan announced in April).

Indeed, as several commentators have noted, even determining what Canada’s defence budget will be in the next year or two is not an easy task, as the government failed to provide definitive figures.  But, from the little information that was provided, and from what can be gleaned by carefully reading other suggestive tea leaves (a process not unlike what Soviet specialists had to do during the Cold War), it seems that defence spending for 2007-2008 will be in the range of $14.5-$15 billion.  While an increase to be sure from the $10 billion that was spent at the turn of the century, the total is a far cry from the $20 billion that seemed to be in the offing just a year or two ago, when all parties agreed that Canada’s military needed a large infusion of cash just to stave off impending collapse.

It is beyond the scope of this article to examine why this number will be so predictably low, but what is of concern here is the effect that this spending shortfall will have.  And chief among those effects is that Canada’s military will continue to be significantly under funded, and this will have an on-going effect on what this country can – and cannot -- do on the international stage.

Canada has been a defence laggard for so long that it hardly warrants as news that we remain one today.  Beginning some four decades ago with Prime Minister Lester Pearson’s decision to freeze defence spending, continuing in the 1970s with Pierre Trudeau’s obvious contempt for the military, and enduring into the 1990s with the dramatic reductions of Jean Chrétien, Canada’s defence starvation has been of such duration and intensity that it’s a small miracle that Canada has defence forces at all.

The problems are so severe that Douglas Bland, one of Canada’s leading defence scholars (and the Chair of the Defence Management Studies program at Queen’s University), concluded a few years ago that Canada’s military would likely suffer catastrophic consequences in the near-to-medium term, regardless of what new funding might be found in the next few years.  This is because, as Bland noted, the future military force is the product of today’s funding, and so the military that Canada fields in the 2010 to 2020 time period will be the result of funding that the Department of National Defence receives now.

That said, while there was good reason for optimism a few years ago, it has become clear that Prime Minister Stephen Harper has apparently concluded that there is simply not the money needed to fix long-standing defence funding issues.  Thus for the foreseeable future, Canada’s defence spending will continue to be in the 1.1 to 1.2 per cent range of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), among the lowest such figures in the world, and the lowest among the advanced Western countries that Canada is normally compared with.  And it should also be noted that the unimpressive funding increases of the past few years have taken place during a period of prolonged economic growth.  When this period ends, defence will likely be one of the first programs to be cut (as its been in every economic downturn in the last 40 years).

Given this reality, I believe that the Canadian military can no longer avoid confronting several difficult issues.  At the top of this list is whether Canada can continue to operate and maintain three (relatively) modern services, each of which would like to field weapons platforms and equipment that would would allow it to be capable of participating (in theory if not always in reality) in mid-intensity combat operations.  In doing so, the services are trying to live up to the recommendation of successive defence white papers – ie., the need for “multi-purpose, combat capable” forces.

It goes without saying that the costs of the equipment necessary to retain these capabilities are high (for example, the new fighter aircraft the air force is presently looking at would cost about $60 million per plane), and the fiscal challenges posed by their purchase are significant.  In the past few years, DND has announced several major re-equipment programs – highlighted by the Sea King replacement and new strategic airlift – but several more remain in limbo, and it is unclear when and if they will get approved.  With so many projects competing for a part of the capital equipment budget, it is extraordinarily difficult for DND officials to determine which ones should “jump the queue,” particularly when some of them can have budgetary implications for years (perhaps decades).

One solution to this problem is service prioritization, whereby one of the services would receive the majority of the capital equipment budget, while the other two would, by necessity, have to re-conceptualize their roles and missions.  A few years ago, I wrote that given its flexibility, relatively modern fleet, and already-approved re-equipment plans, the Navy was the service best positioned to be prioritized.  The article generated considerable feed-back, some of it dismissive.  But while my selection of service for prioritization was (and remains) open to challenge, I still believe that this is an option that the military should consider – before equipment obsolescence, funding shortfalls, and political disinterest effectively make the decision for it.

I readily acknowledge that prioritization may not be the best answer.  There may be other options which will allow Canada to retain advanced war-fighting capabilities, albeit limited ones at that.  But the Canadian military must start planning for the consequences of continued low defence spending, and consider the steps that can be taken that would reduce those consequences.  If it does not, the result might be a military largely incapable of taking part in combat in any meaningful sense, a terrible blow for a country with a long and proud defence history.

Of course, there is the possibility that a future government, with majority Parliamentary support, might dramatically increase the defence budget. But that prospect looks unlikely. Indeed, with so many new government programs devouring more and more resources, the fiscal prospects for DND today actually look bleaker than they did a few years ago.  The challenge going forward will thus remain how to fashion a defence force that can best meet the objectives laid out for it by political officials -- even if those objectives occasionally seem to be at odds with fiscal reality.  While undoubtedly a difficult option, prioritization may be one worth considering.



Vector Next? The Future Air Force

by Scot Robertson

The Canadian Air Force is at one of those proverbial forks in the road.  As part of what Chief of the Defence Staff Rick Hillier refers to as his transformation agenda, the Air Force is set to procure heavy airlift in the form of the C-17 Globemaster.  In addition, its current air lifter, the CC-130 Hercules aircraft is set to be replaced by the most recent variant of that venerable aircraft.  Also under consideration are heavy lift helicopters.  All of these capabilities are sorely needed, particularly in light of the Armed Forces ongoing operations in Afghanistan, and any future expeditionary type operations.  However, at the same time it would appear that the Air Force is being asked to sacrifice some of its current and future capability to fund these new airlift projects.  Most recently, the Air Force has indicated that it will not be proceeding with the upgrade to its maritime patrol aircraft, the CP-140 Aurora.  The future of the CF-18 fighter aircraft is not yet certain.  Nor is it clear whether there will be any follow-on to that aircraft.

Hence one is justified in raising some questions regarding the future direction of the Air Force.  The procurement plans in the current program seem to suggest that the Air Force is on a vector away from a front-line combat capability.  Is the air force evolving into a "taxi service" for the Army?  Or, will it continue to be able to provide a front-line combat capability for Canada in an uncertain future?  Clearly, the Air Force faces a difficult and challenging dilemma.  It is indeed time for the Air Force and for defence analysts to consider the future direction for aerospace power in Canada.

The task that confronts Air Force and defence planners in the months and years ahead is to ensure that it is able to arrest the slide towards aerospace irrelevance and maintain a modicum capability in areas critical to its and Canada's future.  In attempting to meet that challenge, the Air Force will need to consider future directions for aerospace power in general, for it is clear that Canada's air force cannot, nor should it, develop in a vacuum.  What type of conflicts and demands will it face in the future?  On the one hand, there is a school of thought that holds that future war will be marked more by small wars requiring counter-insurgency capabilities.  On the other hand, there is a school of thought that takes the view that major inter-state war cannot be ruled out, and hence technologically advanced capabilities will be required.  In all likelihood, Max Boot will be proved correct when he stated that "the reality is that both high-intensity and low-intensity threats are real and that both top-notch people and first rate equipment are required to counter them."1   In that case, no air force, Canada's included, can be concerned only with meeting the immediate requirements of the here and now.  Hence, the Air Force must be concerned that a transformation agenda that promises only airlift capability will make it difficult to adapt to the wider range of challenges that may arise in the future.

New Vistas for Air Power
In light of the experience of the past decade and a half, few would deny that aerospace power has proved to be extremely important in operations.  That said there is some question over just what role aerospace power should play in the future.  In the larger aerospace power community, there are two emerging ideas that have at times resulted in a rather vigorous and lively discussion over the role and place of aerospace power and air forces in current and future operations.  While the emphasis of these two ideas is somewhat different, what lies at the core is the age old question of the primacy of air power.  The first idea centres on what has come to be referred to as Effects Based Operations (EBO).  The second concerns what has come to be called the Afghan model of conflict.

Effects Based Operations: Old Wine in a New Bottle?

In the last decade of the 1990s and the first few years of the new millennium, airpower effectively became the force of first resort.  The Gulf War of 1991, and operations such as Desert Fox, Deliberate Force and Allied Force were, for the most part, dominated by air operations.  If the experiences of the past decade or so are in any way indicative of the future, then airpower in the 21st century may become the new form of gunboat diplomacy that marked the 19th century.   If this is a valid assertion, or at the very least, is not-too-wrong, the question for Canada is what to do about it and how to proceed?

Ideas that have come to be referred to as Effects Based Operations (EBO) may hold out new and significant possibilities.  Military operations in the future, so the thinking goes, will need to place increased emphasis on establishing influence over the mind of an adversary, while keeping casualties and collateral damage to a minimum.  Effects Based Operations, proponents argue, will offer the possibility of achieving this aim through a combination of both physical and psychological effects.  Whether this new concept for the application of airpower will bear out the hopes of its creators remains to be seen.  For the moment, however, EBO is a work in progress, much like the ideas of the Air Corps Tactical School were a work in progress in the late 1930s.  Nor is the idea of EBO without its critics.2  Some see EBO as merely old wine in a new bottle.  Others see it as just another tool by which air forces can defend budget shares in a time when competition for scarce resources is intense. 

The Afghan Model

While the debate over EBO continues apace, another idea has sprung up.  This arose from the centrality of air power in Operation Enduring Freedom.  The focus of the debate turns on whether the role played by aerospace power in the Afghan conflict will constitute a model for the future.  The essence of the Afghan model is that "airpower degrades enemy communications throughout the theater of war.  Then, … special forces use light indigenous troops as a screen against enemy infantry and force the enemy to mass before calling in precision air strikes."3  The upshot of the Afghan model is that large, heavy, conventional ground forces are not required.  Stephen Biddle, in a response to the Afghan Model, concedes that while "the 2001 Afghanistan campaign toppled the ruling Taliban regime without a large U.S. ground force commitment …"4  that situation was anomalous.  Local conditions and local circumstances were so unique, that to draw broad, definitive and sweeping conclusions is risky at best, and dangerous at worst. 

Clearly, then, there is a major difference of view concerning the Afghan model.  This is important for a number of reasons.  First, the Afghan model will, if accepted and built upon, affect future operations.  Second, it may well affect procurement and force design decisions.  The danger lies, as Thomas Donnelly has recently observed “in taking for granted the relatively low air defense threat in which [air forces] operate today. … This is unlikely to remain the case in the future.  One need only review a brief list of potential adversaries -- Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, China -- to recognize that many … possible enemies field forces that would badly strain … current or planned capabilities ….".5 For Donnelly, as for so many others, the danger they see is being captured by presentism.

Into the 21st Century: What Next For Canada’s Air Force?

If airpower and aerospace power stand at the threshold of new and powerful strategic possibilities, what will this mean for Canada’s air force?  This is not an easy question, nor, in all likelihood, will the answer be very comforting.  In the first instance, it would be well to recognise at the outset, that Canada will not have a full-service air force as it were.  In this, Canada will not be alone.  Aside from the USAF, no air force will be able to muster the resources to cover the full range of aerospace power capabilities.  Arguably, even the USAF will have difficulties in maintaining a full service capability.  Canada, then, will have to make choices.  The question that will bedevil defence planners in general, and air force planners in particular is how to make those choices.  The vexing situation that confronts air force planners as they contemplate the future is how to transform an air force that was once largely focused on an air superiority/interception capability, and at least for the present seems largely focused on airlift, into a force that will be able to conduct operations to meet a challenging and complex future, perhaps characterised by effects based operations, or perhaps by the Afghan model.  Whether the air force will be able to make that transformation is an open question.

1 Max Boot, War Made New, (New York: Gotham Books, 2006.) p. 471.
2 For an interesting discussion see Allen W. Batschelet, Effects-based Operations : A New Operational Model?,  (Carlisle Barracks, PA, Army War College, 2002.)  Batschelet argues, sometimes persuasively, that EBO is really old wine in a new bottle, and that the US Army has pursued the same ends – namely psychological effects on the enemy – for decades.  In this sense, one can see emerging the type of inter-service rivalry that marked, or perhaps more accurately, marred the debates in the 1920s and 1930s concerning the psychological/morale effect of strategic bombardment and the notion of the industrial web targeting philosophy of the US Air Corps Tactical School. 
3 Richard Andres, Craig Wills and Thomas E. Griffiths Jr., "Winning With Allies:The Strategic Value of the Afghan Model", International Security, Vol.30 No. 3, Winter 2005-06., p. 127.
4 Stephen D. Biddle, "Allies, Airpower and Modern Warfare: The Afghan Model in Afghanistan and Iraq", International Security, Vol 30 No. 3, p. 161.
5 Thomas Donnelly, "Strategy and Air Power", National Security Outlook, March 2005. (Washington DC.: American Enterprise Institute, March 2005) p 4.


About Our Organization

Institute Profile
CDFAI is a research institute pursuing authoritative research and new ideas aimed at ensuring Canada has a respected and influential voice in the international arena.

CDFAI is a charitable organization, founded in 2001 and based in Calgary. CDFAI develops and disseminates materials and carries out activities to promote understanding by the Canadian public of national defence and foreign affairs issues. CDFAI is developing a body of knowledge which can be used for Canadian policy development, media analysis and educational support. The Fellows program, a group of highly experienced and talented individuals, support CDFAI by authoring research papers, responding to media queries, running conferences, initiating polling, and developing outreach and education projects.

Mission Statement
To be a catalyst for innovative Canadian global engagement.

CDFAI was created to address the ongoing discrepancy between what Canadians need to know about Canadian foreign and defence policy and what they do know. Historically, Canadians tend to think of foreign policy – if they think of it at all – as a matter of trade and markets. They are unaware of the importance of Canada engaging diplomatically, militarily, and with international aid in the ongoing struggle to maintain a world that is friendly to the free flow of people and ideas across borders and the spread of human rights. They are largely unaware of the connection between a prosperous and free Canada and a world of globalization and liberal internationalism. CDFAI is dedicated to educating Canadians, and particularly those who play leadership roles in shaping Canadian international policy, to the importance of Canada playing an active and ongoing role in world affairs, with tangible diplomatic, military and aid assets.

CDFAI Projects

Minor Research Papers – four papers are released each year on current, relevant themes related to defence, diplomacy and international development.

Major Research Paper – one or two major papers are released each year providing a detailed, critical examination on current issues or analyzing existing policy.

Quarterly Newsletters – educate Canadians on timely topics related to Canada’s role on the international stage.

Monthly Columns – a monthly column written by J.L. Granatstein that raises the level of public debate on defence and foreign affairs issues.   

Speakers’ Series – corporate and other leaders are invited to expand their knowledge of international relations through the experience and expertise shared by knowledgeable speakers.

Editorial Board – a group of highly respected academics ensure authoritative public policy integrity in all of CDFAI’s formal publications.

Annual Ottawa Conference – a joint project with Carleton, Laval, Queen’s University, UQAM, and the Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars is held annually to address a topical issue.

National Polls – public opinion polls are commissioned to demonstrate Canadian current thinking on significant international issues.

Military Journalism Courses – annually, two eleven-day military/media courses (French and English) are run where upwards of 24 Canadian journalism students learn about dealing with the Canadian Forces.

Ross Munro Media Award – annually, CDFAI and CDA recognize one Canadian journalist who has made a significant contribution to the public understanding of defence and security issues.

Issue Responses – as required, CDFAI will respond to breaking news items with a reasoned, well articulated perspective to assist the public in understanding the issue. 


Each of CDFAI’s projects is developed to bring attention to pressing Canadian international engagement issues. These projects not only analyze the issues but also offer solutions. By publishing the results of these research projects, CDFAI gives policymakers the means to carry out policy formulation and administration in a more informed manner. Interested Canadians will be more knowledgeable. The ultimate aim is to strengthen Canada’s international role in the world, thereby supporting a reasonable standard of living for current and future Canadians and those living around the globe.

CDFAI’s annual budget currently runs at approximately $800,000.  Corporate, individual philanthropic, government contracts and foundation support are needed to carry on this important work.



If you would like to be included on our regular mailing regarding conferences, lectures and newsletters, please send your particulars to [email protected] or sign up for our mailing list at All email addresses gathered by CDFAI are kept confidential as we do not release or sell any information collected from the public to any third party without explicit permission to do so. 

CDFAI also adheres to a strict no-SPAM policy and as such, does not forward emails containing information provided by third parties and/or organizations and businesses with which it has no official interest, relevancy and/or affiliation.


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Making sense of our complex world.
Déchiffrer la complexité de notre monde.


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