Editor’s Corner article

Future Forces, an Overview
CHRIS MacLEAN  |  Mar 15, 2006

Communicating with the Canadian public is increasingly being seen as an essential (and inevitable) aspect of maintaining public support for the Canadian Forces and their dangerous missions. Both CF and government leaders have repeatedly stated the need to rally behind the men and women who are presently in harms way. As Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay has said, “Canada has to show a great deal of perseverance and resolve at this time.”

General Rick Hillier, Chief of the Defence Staff, seems to have heard the suggestions  – coming, no doubt, from many sources – that he hit the trail and promote the CF to the public right across this country.

It’s fair to say that many believe he has the both the conviction and the camaraderie it takes to “connect with” the average Canadian because the lighthearted seriousness of his speaking style is appreciated by young and old alike.

Realizing that the CDS can’t be everywhere at all times, I’d also suggest that it’s time to make a parliamentary presentation. Not a debate, as demanded by NDP Leader Jack Layton, but the kind of inspiring ­presentation that makes one proud to be a Canadian. General Hillier does that well, because he speaks from the heart.

Our parliamentary leaders need to hear many viewpoints, and how better to develop lasting support within a minority government than to hear some of the all-too-real stories that Hillier can bring to life?

Communicating isn’t all that Gen Hillier has been doing since his appointment just over a year ago. FrontLine looks at the CDS’ transformation vision to date, in an exclusive interview with the Chief of CF Transformation, MGen Walt Natynczyk. A short-term position, we hear about some of the challenges and successes to date. However, with the new government ramping into place, the CF leadership acknowledges that there may be significant changes in play when the new Defence Minister, Gordon O’Connor, finishes his preliminary briefings and the new budget comes out. Therefore, we will be ­visiting with MGen Natynczyk later in the year to get a more precise fix on the potentially “revised” transformation process.

For that same reason, we have also delayed our special edition on the new Commands. That being said, after MGen Michel Gauthier returned to Canada after the Transfer of Command ceremony for Task Force Afghanistan, FrontLine didn’t pass up the opportunity to meet with him for a quick overview of what the Expedi­tionary Force Command entails.

International Forces around the world are involved in their own transformational changes. We hear from a representative of the Swedish Parliament and member of their Defence Committee, Åsa Lindestam, about that country’s moves to reposition its defence capabilities toward a smaller, but more active, operational force.

As mentioned in our last edition, the Great Debate on Defence Procurement, Australia has been through some serious reviews and the resulting system is being tested on the Air Warfare Destroyer program. Program Manager, Warren King, presents a case study of the AWD, referencing the impact of these procurement reviews.

This edition presents some serious commentary, about the future of women in the military, by former U.S. Marines, Angie Morgan and Courtney Lynch.

On the technology front, the concept of “agility” is proposed by Dr. Andrew Vallerand as a principle of Canadian M&S and R&D efforts. This “rapid reaction” capability could very well be a Canadian advantage to support the CF emphasis on Trans­for­ma­tion and to bolster our contribution to the R&D efforts of our Allies.
Providing a comprehensive report on recent field tests of the ISTAR project, André Lafrance points out that the biggest challenge is not to acquire information, but to be able to analyze it, integrate it, and present it to tactical commanders and other decision makers in a useful, timely and understandable form.

LCol Murray Regush and Ian Glenn of UVS Canada, take a look at the future of unmanned systems and examine how technology advances may develop for either homeland security or defence missions.

And Lewis MacKenzie wraps up with the pet peeve of many... debunking the ­popular “peacekeeping” myth.
© Frontline Defence 2006