Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
National Security and Defence
Issue 4 - Evidence, Afternoon meeting
KINGSTON, Monday, November 29, 2004
The Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence met this day at 12:30 p.m. to examine and report
on the need for a national security policy for Canada.
Senator Colin Kenny (Chairman) in the chair.
The Chairman: This afternoon, we have with us Lieutenant-Colonel David Last, who is an artillery officer who has
served with several NATO and UN peacekeeping forces. He is a graduate of the Royal Military College of Canada, the
U.S. Army Command and General Staff College and holds a doctorate from the London School of Economics. He has
conducted field work in Sierra Leone, Gabon, Israel and Palestine. Today, he teaches at the Royal Military College of
Canada, and conducts research on the control of violence, including peacekeeping, international policing, conflict
resolution and special operations.
We also have before us today Dr. Jane Boulden, who is an assistant professor of Politics at the Royal Military
College of Canada. She is also a Canadian Research Chair in International Relations, and Security Studies and a
senior fellow at Queen's Centre for International Relations at Queen's University. She is a noted scholar on post-Cold
War peace operations.
Dr. Boulden has recently published three military-worthy works: The first is Dealing with Conflict in Africa: The
United Nations and Regional Organizations; the second is Terrorism and the UN: Before and After September 11th; the
third work is Peace Enforcement: The United Nations Experience in Congo, Somalia, and Bosnia.
Welcome both of you to the committee.
Ms. Jane Boulden, Canada Research Chair in International Relations and Security Studies, Royal Military College of
Canada: Our remarks will be drawn from a paper we did on lessons from peacekeeping in the past 15 years. I am
particularly going to touch on a number of different issues and put a few things on the table. My colleague will talk a
bit more specifically about some of the lessons that are in that paper but in discussion, we can bring back any of the
themes or issues that are raised.
The nature of the debate about Canadian defence policy, if not the specifics, is remarkably familiar. I was out of the
country for three and a half years, came back and felt as if I had never left. The themes in our discussion could have
been the topic for a panel four years ago, 10 years ago, and even 17 years ago when Ron Byers identified the situation
as a "commitment capability gap."
I argue that we do not have a commitment capability gap at the moment because that presupposes a clear sense of
commitments, commitments that are not being fulfilled and I do not think we have a clear sense of what those
commitments should be.
During the Cold War, we never had to establish or think through the nature of our commitment because the
strategic framework of threat and response was in place. We have not really fully reassessed the situation since then. In
the absence of an overarching strategy that articulates a vision of the world, its threats and opportunities and
establishes a set of prioritized objectives for Canada, we are apparently inevitably and constantly driven by concerns
about our role as a middle power; are we one, do we have one, our relationship with the United States and the
preservation of multilateralist institutions.
The absence of an overarching national security policy, based on a strategic vision where the foreign and defence
policy are intimately linked, leads to a tendency to fit defence policy into a pre-established package that is focused on
processes such as multilateralism, position such as a seat at the table, or in the institutions such as the United Nations.
This creates the impression that we participate in multilateral operations for the sake of being multinational or of
supporting the U.S. rather than because it fulfills national policy objectives.
For these reasons, a defence review is important and timely as is, I would argue, a broader security review. This is
particularly the case because of the dramatic changes in the national and international security environments since the
end of the Cold War. I would like to highlight three factors, and the third is the one we will focus on most.
First is the growing importance of non-state actors in the form of terrorism. Terrorism represents a threat to
national, international and regional security. The resulting war on terror has done little to mitigate this threat. Singly
and together, we have so far been unsuccessful in thinking through the implications of either the threat or the response.
What is our policy on anti-terrorism besides saying that we are anti-terrorism? What do we feel are the most
appropriate measures to deal with the emergence of such a powerful non-state actor?
Post-September 11, we were part of a response that was state-based. What would our policy have been, for example,
if Al-Qaeda had not been so conveniently located in Afghanistan and associated with the revile Taliban regime? What
if it was dispersed in Pakistan, Germany and the U.K.?
The second main theme is proliferation, nuclear as well as chemical and biological. The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons is in trouble. India and Pakistan are confirmed nuclear weapon states with little
prospect of roll-back. One of the most significant post-Cold War failures has been the inability to lock down and
consolidate the nuclear holdings of Russia and to find a way to prevent covert proliferation of the type we have seen in
Pakistan. This is compounded by the looming threat of new developments in chemical and bio-chemical research which
threaten to undermine existing limitations.
The Canadian government has a long and important tradition of supporting the non-proliferation treaty as key to
its arms control and disarmament goals, but the treaty is in trouble and we do not seem to have thought through the
alternatives. What is our position on the use of force as a counter-proliferation tool? What criteria must be met before
such a decision is made? Is regime change a legitimate form or outcome of a counter-proliferation effort? What role
could or should Canadian Forces play in that respect?
If nothing else, we need to deal with the fact that proliferation and its link to terrorism is considered to be a major
threat by the United States. This is a view that is not just associated with the Republicans or the Bush administration,
but you can find it in a number of key Democratic thinkers as well.
Third, the conception of security, more broadly the way in which security is perceived and pursued at the
international level, has also changed dramatically. With the end of the Cold War, the national community, primarily
through the UN Security Council, has engaged in an almost infinite expansion of what its constitutes international
peace and security to include democracy, humanitarianism, and the effects of civil wars, for example.
An expansion of the concept of security is also occurring at the national level in response to September 11. This
includes things like immigration, trade, transport and justice. One of the outcomes of this process has been the
development of the concept of human security. However, one of the beliefs is that peace is more than the absence of
war and that individual security through development and democratization is key to state security and, by extension,
At the same time that we are expanding the definition of security in terms of substance, we are doing so in terms of
the level as well, reaching beyond the state down to the level of the individual. This horizontal-issue area, expansion,
and vertical expansion by level mean that almost nothing is off the table now. Security is both amorphous and all-inclusive.
The absence of a strategic framework to give guidance and the presence of a concept of security that includes
everything everywhere confirms the pre-existing tendency in Canada to be reactive. Without a sense of priorities and
strategic thinking to guide us, and without an understanding of our approach to the bigger questions, our
commitments are driven by responses to what shows up on the front border at any given time.
An important first step has been made with "Securing an Open Society: Canada's National Security Policy", the
report under the Martin government, which makes an attempt for the first time to establish a national security policy.
The international section of the report which was written relatively quickly in order to have the report ready for a
meeting with President Bush suffers from the speed with which it was put together and is the weakest element of the
The absence of government's pending international security review, which I gather is now delayed further, hampers
the international analysis which does not move much beyond emphasizing the need to deal with weak states as a way of
dealing with terrorism.
So where does this leave us in terms of defence policy besides the point that it is an important time to engage in a
review? Here are some points to consider.
We now increasingly understand, for example, that in pre- and post-conflict situations, we require a long-term
response that is multidimensional. Military, political, social and economic elements are all important. We now also
know that what happens in that very initial period, the early stages to the post-conflict environment is key to ensuring
long-term success. If we are going to consolidate peace rather than just keep it or build it, we need to be on the ground
promptly and be able to bring a multi-spectrum approach with us for a longer term.
It is in this context that there has been increased discussion recently of the 3Ds, defence, development and
diplomacy, which is an important development in our thinking about national security and post-Cold War conflict.
However, the potential for value-added and international involvement is undermined when we spread our resources
too thin, both geographically and in terms of issue area.
We should, for example, be able to have a longer term, multidimensional involvement and commitment to places
like Haiti and Afghanistan than we are currently able to maintain. Such involvement should be based on established
articulation of national interests and a coherent understanding of lessons learned from past operations. This is one area
where not just Canada, but even institutions like the United Nations have a real problem. We have not yet established
a process of drawing on the wealth of experience that we have in such operations.
Ultimately, the argument I am making is one for focus; a determination to commit to consolidating peace and
strengthening post-conflict states, but to do so in a few key areas over a longer term. This would be done with the
commensurate acceptance that we would not be able to do other things when they came up and not just situations
where the absence of a UN Security Council authorization gives us an out.
Such an approach would require a shift in mindset within government bureaucracies and on the part of the
Canadian people, but one that could be brought about through a defence and foreign policy review.
The important disjuncture therefore is not between our commitments and resources, but between our commitments
and our sense of objectives, our national interests as articulated based on a view of the world that conceptualizes the
current environment and prioritizes our responses. This is an argument for re-articulating a national security policy
based on the new environment and making decisions about commitments and resources that flow from that.
Lieutenant-Colonel David Last, Registrar, Royal Military College of Canada: Dr. Boulden always says these things
much more eloquently and synoptically than I can, so I am very glad to have had the benefit of her introduction.
I am going to take a slight detour at the request of Senator Day. I will begin again where we left off last night. Before
I talk about lessons of peacekeeping, I will talk briefly about the Royal Military College of Canada, RMC.
You heard yesterday from the principal, Dr. John Scott Cowan, that RMC is a national institution, that it is focused
on the defence of Canada and that since its beginning, RMC has meant more than just officer production. It has
produced leaders for national and international security first within the British Empire, and then with its successors. It
has produced leaders and the element of security that it has dealt with has included economic and social issues as much
as national defence.
I think last night, most of you saw evidence of cadets who are intelligent, engaged and who want to serve, not
necessarily just the chest pieces of infantry, armour, artillery, navy and air force, but who have a vision of something
wider as a result of the kind of education that RMC is able to offer.
You also heard from faculty that RMC is a window into a national research community and that this is a national
asset. You heard from long-serving officers that we sometimes miss the national vision that lets us do the jobs that we
can and should do in order to defend Canada.
I think the message put in a bottle from the meeting that you had with the commandant and the principal is that
Canada can be a world leader in linking human security to national and international security and that professional
education, not just of Canadians but of those abroad as well involved in security, might be the best vehicle for doing
I think it fits our history and this government's national security policy. It also uses our comparative advantage in
world-class educational institutions and treats public safety and international security as public goods, like public
health, something that Canadians identify with. Part of the makeup of such a policy includes training assistance teams,
security sector reform, support to the United Nations and international programs in defence education, including
advanced degree programs like the ones that are offered at the Royal Military College and at the Canadian Forces
I think this policy fits very well with the lessons that Dr. Boulden and I have tried to put together. I will move on
now to the paper, "Lessons Learned from Peace Support Operations." To avoid a litany of logistical and tactical
lessons that range from the idiosyncratic from particular missions to the universal, I will try to reframe the question
slightly, which is this: What have we learned about how Canada can contribute to security and stability through peace
support operations? I think this is the heart of the strategic question that Dr. Boulden has already answered.
In the paper, Dr. Boulden and I emphasize the four-fold nature of efforts to support peace and stability, going
beyond 3D — defence, diplomacy and development — to include those first three, security, governance and economic
development and the fourth pillar, the psychological and social dimensions of reconciliation and social reconstruction,
which might be referred to as a cultural element.
This confounds the old expression that "peacekeeping is no job for a soldier, but only a soldier can do it." In fact,
modern peace and stability operations can no longer be won by soldiers anymore than Boy Scouts can expect to win
wars. The local population is the critical target for winning the peace. Outsiders, whether in uniform or not, can assist,
but they cannot do it by themselves. The greater the local consent to the form and purpose of the intervention, the
greater is its legitimacy and the less is its corresponding need for coercion. The more legitimate the effort of the
outsiders, the less force is required.
This insight is not a new one. It goes way back to the birth of the United Nations, even to its precursors, and is
reflected in the structure of the United Nations which provides for both economic and social agencies on the one hand,
and a Security Council to deal with peace and security on the other.
We know that third party efforts have to balance development, security and the 3Ds that Dr. Boulden mentioned
have become a slogan for shaping western policy towards Afghanistan, Iraq and Kosovo. However, success really
hinges on bringing these resources together at the community level. We may have good reasons to become involved in
protracted policing operations like our three-decade-long engagement in Cyprus or policing in Afghanistan that has
more to do with maintaining order than building peace and security. If we do that, we need to distinguish between our
interests and the interests of local parties in building a lasting peace through a long-term commitment.
The key to this success is a teamwork approach. Sir Marrack Goulding of the United Nations has expanded on this
idea more than a decade ago. He advocated a UN house which combines economic and social agencies perhaps under a
resident representative before a crisis. Then, he advocated a transition to a UN mission or some other form of
international mission under a special representative with fairly broad powers of coordination when the Security
Council becomes seized of the matter. Then, ultimately, he advocated reversion to development-led activities when
stability has been restored.
Whether or not the amorphous international community can achieve this level of coherence in a strategy, Canada
can achieve it within the context of limited geographical regions for which we are responsible. It is possible for us to
establish development-led regional teams that take advantage of skilled personnel who might be identified by a non-government organization like CANADEM, who might be assembled by a program like the proposed Canada Corps,
who might be trained by Canadian-led organizations like the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre or others.
Then, as tensions rise, we might insert through these groups low-profile security assistance teams. These teams
become a foot on the ground both to provide security for our own civilians who are already there, perhaps extrication
of those civilians if things turn nasty, and to act as a foot on the ground for subsequent activities for intelligence
collection and support to increasing our security presence. We could also see the security teams working with training
and development of local security forces, police and military, and becoming engaged in security sector reform.
This thinking about the sequencing of interventions is neither new nor original, but we do seem to have lost sight of
some of the means of bringing these resources together, notwithstanding establishing organizations like the Pearson
Peacekeeping Centre precisely to do that.
It is not enough for government departments to discuss common policies in Ottawa. It is better, but still not enough,
if we can bring soldiers, diplomats and aid experts together with local leaders in the capital of the affected country.
When these specialists are able to combine adequate resources to meet locally defined needs in a community, then we
have the basis for progress. Experiments like the Neighborhood Facilitators Project which actually put locals in control
of problem-solving teams, is the kind of innovation that I think we should be looking for as we move forward with
It is only at the community level that we overcome this conundrum in which development requires security, but
security cannot be advanced over the long term without fundamental changes in equitable social and economic
I will stop there.
Senator Day: The first question I would like to ask is to get your view on whether a defence review and a defence
policy must include, as part of the development of this debate, all those various aspects that you talked about in terms
of the social dimension and all the other things that have to happen.
Where does the leadership come from? Let us take a country, for example Haiti. Do you foresee Canada going in
and saying: We are making a long-term commitment to help rebuild this failing nation? We would then provide
everything from the military armed forces to a policing aspect, to the training of judges of the legal system and the
economic development. Do you foresee that the only way this would work is for one country to do this, or would it be
a joint effort and a specialization in different areas by different countries that get involved?
LCol. Last: One country cannot provide the full spectrum that you are talking about.
I think I heard two distinct questions there. The first is: How wide-ranging does the defence review need to be
because this is our understanding of what is required for international security and stability? The second is: How do we
actually implement that sort of a policy.
I think a defence review that limits itself to the army, the navy and the air force is a fraudulent defence review. I do
not think we have addressed the question. I am not suggesting for a moment that the honourable senators are
fraudulent. However, the idea that defence can be achieved by people in uniform and that our focus should be the
services, the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces, was somewhat fallacious during the
Cold War and is manifestly so now.
A defence review has to go far beyond the Canadian Forces and the Department of National Defence. It has to
include aspects of human security, national security and international security precisely as the national security policy
statement indicates. Defence is about national security and it has to include those elements.
In terms of how we might envision implementing this sort of a policy, Canada does not have to do it all by itself.
That is what multilateralism is all about. We choose areas of comparative advantage. Some of the questions for the
defence review are: What are our areas of comparative advantage? Where should we invest in building capabilities?
When we put the Canada Corps concept together, what is it that we are expecting from it?
There are two ways of slicing the pie, I think, simplistically. One is vertically, in which we focus on, for example,
using your Haiti case, judicial development within Haiti, and let other countries deal with police forces. If we do that,
we need some sophistication in the connections between police development, judicial reform, penitentiaries and so on.
It may be necessary, as part of our policy, to figure out where the gaps are and start filling in around them so we do not
have the kind of recidivism that we have seen in Haiti.
The other way of slicing the pie is geographically. When there are well-formed international interventions as there
have been in Bosnia, Kosovo and Afghanistan, then we can expect to occupy a region and within that region, provide
all of the political, economic, social and psychosocial elements of security on top of the security framework.
The advantage of slicing it regionally is that we have then got a basis for experimentation. We can compare a
Canadian region to a New Zealand region or an American region and see what works in each one. That requires a little
more self-examination. We do not expect to spend as much money as we do on peacekeeping in public health without
doing a little bit of research on what is working and what is not. However, we do remarkably little when we throw huge
amounts of money into peacekeeping. There is not a lot of program evaluation.
Ms. Boulden: Just to follow on from what Lieutenant-Colonel Last said, in terms of Haiti as an example, if you ask
me to design or define an ideal type, we cannot do everything.
Ideally, especially Haiti because it is in our region, it would be a situation in which we take the lead, either alone or
with other states who also have similar interests. In fact, we have been part of a sort of Group of Friends of Haiti over
time and that, for example, is the logical group to take the lead on this kind of thing. We would say, in effect, to the
United States and others, "We are on it and we will be the ones to assess the
situation multi-dimensionally and when we need judicial assistance, for example,
we will come to you. When we need `X,' we will come to you."
We would take that kind of long-term and cross-spectrum approach to things, but not necessarily do it all ourselves.
Afghanistan is another example simply because we have been there. We have done fabulous things there. I use that
as an example because I think militarily, for example, ideally again, we should be in a situation where we are able to
sustain that much longer. We should be able, five years from now, for example, when and if things slide back again, to
go back; to have maybe gone down to 500 troops and more emphasis on police, judicial and the other aspects.
However, if things start to slip, we should be able to say, let us up the ante a bit and go back with more military forces.
The same thing goes for Haiti.
It presupposes also an ability to have a nuanced understanding of what is going on on the ground, intelligence and
so on, and be able to say there are some warning signs here and be able to do things before we get to that stage even.
Again, if you are taking a more multidimensional approach to things, that depends on your ability to actually do that
Senator Day: Let us assume that Canada does take the lead in one of these particular operations. Is this a coalition
of the willing that we are talking about here? We get a number of nations to say,
"Let us get together. We will take the lead, but we want your blessing that
Canada should do this."
Assume that to be the case. Who takes the lead from the Canadian point of view, the armed forces, the military,
because they are in there first? Do they determine that we do not need that many rifle-carrying people any longer, we
can now move into a policing kind of situation? This is sort of a transition. You cannot work in silos here. Somebody
has to take the lead and determine when you need to bring more armed forces people back in.
Because you are both at RMC, are you training individuals at RMC to understand — I know they are primarily
geared towards a military career — the multidimensional aspect of these situations that we are likely to be involved in?
LCol. Last: There is a fair amount of experience, particularly in the British and American experiences, with country-team approaches in which the United States uses an ambassador model, with agencies reporting to a single authority.
We could go that route.
The key, I think, is to have people who, from early on, have learned how all the pieces move. In terms of RMC's
role, taking cadets out of their undergraduate education and sending them off for summer internships with other
government departments, particularly the Department of Foreign Affairs, CSIS and CIDA, might be a useful way of
developing the kind of people that have broad serviceability for these new sorts of security missions.
I think it would also be useful to think of our graduates as being employable for their obligatory service period in
any government department. It certainly does not make sense to spend three and a half years developing first-class
young leaders, have them break their knees in a karate accident and then throw them back on the civilian market when
we could employ them perfectly adequately in almost any other government department other than the Department of
The idea that these are leaders for the service of Canada and that we have an obligation to use them to Canada's
best advantage is something that would help with this problem of finding the right mix of leaders for complex
operations. It is not a question of which agency leads. It is a question of which individuals lead and what their
Senator Day: To finish off on your point with respect to RMC students getting other experience in other
government agencies, have you contemplated people who are contemplating the public service — the Department of
Foreign Affairs and other government departments — during their formal education at RMC as well?
LCol. Last: Absolutely. The principal has an initiative at the moment to establish a scholar who would be a senior
official from another government department. That would start at the top end, bringing scholarship and public service
together from other government departments, making RMC more visible to the senior leaders in other areas.
Making it available to mid-level career officers from other government departments to do graduate work both at
RMC and perhaps eventually at the Canadian Forces College as well would make imminent sense. That is just a matter
of finding the right opportunities. We already have quite a lot of public servants in the War Studies program and I
think in the PCO. We have, by my count, at least half a dozen, perhaps quite a lot more than that, graduates of RMC
in the War Studies program.
Ms. Boulden: On the question of silo decision-making and how we would do this at the national level, it is a difficult
but important one. It is why, first of all, I argue that we have to have a national security policy from which defence and
foreign policy flow. I agree entirely, we cannot be silo decision-making. There has to be a level of coordination on these
issues that does not now exist.
It is why, for all the discussion about 3D that has been going on, I still remain sceptical because I think it does
require a certain mind shift that I have not seen evidence of so far on the part of people in various departments, and in
terms of national decision-makers themselves.
On the question of, would it be a coalition of the willing and under what mandate would we be operating, I think we
are still, in spite of Iraq, in a situation where we do require a UN mandate for the initial intervention, particularly when
we are talking about the part of the intervention that is militarily heavy. In our paper and in our discussion, we talk
about how the other aspects of the operation, the multidimensional aspects, mean that you would require less military
in the traditional sense.
As the operation goes on therefore, you can envisage a point at which that formal intervention part ends. However,
Canada could still take the lead with groups of like-minded states, if you want to call it that, or friends of the state in
question. We could link within the financial institutions, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, IMF, and
the United Nations Development Programme, UNDP, for example, on the development side. Once we reach that stage
of the process, we do not necessarily need to be in a coalition of the willing, in an internationally authorized situation.
We can then play on our other bilateral relationships with countries to call them in to play a specific role or to lobby
them to play a specific role, again, on a bilateral basis rather than an international framework.
Does that make sense?
Senator Day: Yes, it does. I am finished, but I wondered if you espouse the view of Lieutenant-Colonel Last with
respect to the education at RMC?
Ms. Boulden: Yes, I do. It is an interesting question when you ask, are you teaching them to think this way? If they
take my Politics course, yes. However, more broadly is really the way Lieutenant-Colonel Last was talking in terms of
Senator Munson: Just a couple of short questions. This is the first day of the very long road trip for us to have
building blocks and to understand.
I was struck by your phrase "fraudulent review." I am an old news guy. I am wondering, are you suggesting that to
make our review make sense, that we bring people in from CIDA, Foreign Affairs and others so that we can broaden
our scope to understand what you talk about, the 3Ds. I am really interested in what you just said on the argument for
LCol. Last: I certainly do not want to tell you how to do your business. However, it seems to me that if we are
talking about a defence review and the focus of the defence review is how do we achieve security, and security has
already been defined in terms of human security, national security and international security — then the kinds of
choices that Dr. Boulden talked about at the opening, the question of what are we really trying to achieve in terms of
our security posture, our policy, our commitment — that comes down to fairly basic questions that first surfaced in the
immediate aftermath of 9/11 about root causes versus punitive actions.
To come to grips with those questions, you do have to look beyond the question of the armed services and the
Department of National Defence. We do not have the answers. Security lies outside what we can achieve with the
The Chairman: There is no question that somebody has to do what you are suggesting. Surely, you are not arguing
that that is part of the defence review. Defence review has to take into account those other issues, but if you want us to
do a governmental review, you have come to the wrong place.
LCol. Last: I think a defence review has to include an understanding of what we mean by security. For example, in
the paper, there are two fairly clear choices that we can make. We can make the decision that our defence and security
hinges fundamentally on our relationship with the United States and that, in order to preserve that relationship, we
need to be good soldiers of the empire. If that is our choice, then we probably need to focus more on a capital-intensive
set of solutions to our defence problems. We will probably want to invest in ballistic missile defence even if we know
that it does not work. We will probably want to participate in some of the American expeditionary activities even if we
have reservations about whether those are going to contribute to international peace and security.
If, on the other hand, we determine that our fundamental national security interests are best served by a peaceful
and law-abiding rules-based international order and multilateralism — and I think I will defer to Dr. Boulden to
describe these two alternatives more eloquently than I — then we have different sorts of choices to make about defence.
In either case, the decisions as to whether we want to put defence dollars into the Department of National Defence
or into border security and homeland defence, those clearly go beyond simple questions of army, navy and air force. I
think those have to be part of a defence review.
The Chairman: We would disagree fundamentally, but I understand what you are saying.
Senator Munson: I would like to follow up a bit. Haiti has been given as an example. Maybe I should know this, but
I do not. When we go into a country like Haiti and then we send military police in to keep order, are there mechanisms
right now within our own government and departments where automatically, a bell goes off, and there is consultation?
In other words, you are looking at the end road as opposed to today's road in keeping long-term stability and care.
I know I am moving off the defence business, this whole 3D thing, and your argument for focus has struck me.
Ms. Boulden: I will walk through a bit of what usually happens, which is to say probably very rarely happens. In
practice, what happens in these situations is that the UN establishes a mandate through the Security Council which is
then passed to the Secretariat to implement. The Secretariat then tries to find troop-contributing countries such as
Canada to send their troops, civilians, military police and so on. It depends on the mandate and on the situation on the
ground. That then becomes, in effect, our guiding set of objectives, that UN mandate.
To try to answer your question, is there a bell that goes off and looks down the road; yes and no. The answer is yes,
in the sense that the UN mandate looks down the road. We are on the ground under UN auspices and if they say at
such and such a point, the mandate is over, then we go home and the mandate is over.
What happens internally in terms of the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of National Defence is,
to the extent I understand it, to work towards the fulfillment of that mandate, which can be a separate thing from our
own policies on a given situation like Haiti. We may have a parallel track. We may take that as our only track and so
Senator Cordy: If we are looking at a defence review, I think that we have to look at education of our military. Since
you are both at RMC, my question is: Is there enough funding currently in place for RMC which, as you have stated
and we believe, is a national institution?
Also, I would like to talk about the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre. The funding for the peacekeeping centre, is it
sufficient that we can do a good job of training our military? In fact, you even spoke about expanding it so that it is not
just defence and security, but perhaps CSIS and foreign affairs. Certainly, if we are going to expand it so that it is not
defence people being trained, is there, in fact, enough funding for that to take place?
LCol. Last: I think yesterday the commandant told you he has enough money to do what he has been told to do. I
have been teaching there for five years. Class sizes are rising. The resources available to support the frontline
departments — that is, the Department of Politics and the Department of History — are getting stretched. Now with
my Registrar's hat on, I would say we have something approaching a critical shortage in some of our classrooms. It is
becoming increasingly difficult to keep all the events going at the same time. Clearly, there is room for more money,
but I think that is true of any operation. Anyone can spend more money.
If you were to give more money to RMC, the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre, or any of these agencies, what kinds of
things might you expect to be delivered given that they are managing with what they have now?
I think the first answer is more in the way of interdepartmental collaboration, more student spaces for other
government departments. We essentially do not have a mandate at the moment for other government departments, but
money might be found from other government departments to expand the educational possibilities for their employees
in the same way that DND funds officer education. That is one, both deliverable and possible, source of funds outside
A second area would be international. We have exchanges now with military academies, the Air Force Academy and
West Point, and we are developing one with the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis. We have sent, in the past, cadets to
the Australian Defence Force Academy. But it seems to me that these are very much academies in our own
neighbourhood. The educational opportunity in terms of understanding and knowing the problems of tomorrow's
world would be enormous if we could send cadets to Abuja in Nigeria or to Quetta in Pakistan.
This might mean that we would have to spend an extra year on a cadet's education, but what an education it would
be. If we picked the military colleges and academies of countries that are likely to be our principal partners and/or
problems in the next 20 years in the life of these cadets' careers — if we targeted China, Indonesia, Nigeria and Brazil
— and if we recruited with a view to having cadets who already had these language skills, we can do this now, it would
cost a modest amount, but I think that modest addition would give us an enormous increase in our ability to engage
with the world around us.
International exposure is the second area.
The third area where we could do with a little more money would be increasing the exposure of cadets to civilian
universities, and students in civilian universities to our military society. You may have heard in some of your previous
hearings about the problem of a declining societal footprint. We do not make as big a splash in the community as
perhaps we did when every town had an armoury.
If we could take a cadet from Alberta with a zero-language profile in French and send him for a semester or a year
to Laval University as part of his RMC education, we might expect in return not just a better language profile, but also
some real respect and affection for another part of the country. That kind of exchange could be done as part of RMC's
mandate. Similarly, we have cadets in the Regular Officer Training Plan, ROTP, at civilian universities. Part of their
contract could involve spending a semester at RMC.
Part of this greater flow between RMC and civilian universities could work at the undergraduate level. Even more
so, I think, it would be enormously beneficial to have graduate students and mid-career officers from RMC and other
government departments moving out to The Security and Defence Forum, SDF, chairs at civilian universities. This is
something that would require a bit more money, not a lot more in gross terms, but it could be done through The
Security and Defence Forum.
I will stop there. Does that answer?
Senator Cordy: Yes. I am glad to hear you say that class size — not glad that class sizes are growing, not at all — is a
problem because if we hear that everything is wonderful, then, that is what we have to report. If we hear that class sizes
are growing and that resources are being stretched, then that is what we will report. If nobody tells us, then we do not
I am wondering if additional funding is given to RMC and the Pearson centre, should that funding be targeted?
Does your funding for RMC come as targeted funding from the government or does it come to the Department of
National Defence and then they dole it out?
LCol. Last: I am not the best person to answer that, but I would say that any organization has a certain tendency to
preserve what exists and resists facing new challenges. It would not go amiss to combine new funding with explicit
Senator Banks: Colonel, I have to begin by saying that I was so astonished by something that I thought I heard you
say that I am going to ask you to straighten me out because I could not possibly have heard you say that.
It was with respect to the extent to which our national security is reliant, as we know it is, upon good relations with
the United States. I think I heard you say that, notwithstanding that we might disagree with an expeditionary
adventure and that we might think it is wrong, we should, nonetheless, for practical purposes, sign on to it. Did you say
LCol. Last: I said that could be one of our choices. Those kinds of calculations — whether we want to play the good
soldier of empire for the collateral benefits that come with it — I think that is part of Canada's history and military
heritage. Sometimes, we have gone wholeheartedly into conflicts such as the Boer War and Sudan and sometimes, we
have dragged our feet and recognized that there are arguments to be made both for and against such conflicts.
Those are national choices. They are not choices that are made by people in uniform. They are choices of policy,
choices made by governments and I think they are the sort of thing that your committee needs to take a hard look at
and advise on.
Senator Banks: Historically, even with respect to something as far behind us as the Boer War, Sudan and Khartoum
— because we were there, too — the questions about the rightness of those undertakings and those adventures are all in
hindsight, 20/20. At the time, surely, whatever the reason was, Canadians thought, let us go do this, did they not?
LCol. Last: Some Canadians did and some did not. I think one of the fundamental factors in Canadian security is
the impact that these foreign ventures have on domestic, political consensus and on the willingness of French and
English to live together and, in the future, the willingness of other groups to live together.
As wars in Sri Lanka affected the Tamil community in Toronto, as wars in the Horn of Africa affect the Ethiopian
community, these are considerations that affect our choice of where to send Canadian troops and what to do with them
when we get there.
Senator Banks: There were not always troops because the main Canadian contribution to the advance on Khartoum
was sending Quebec canoeists to take the stuff up the mountain.
You also said that you think RMC and what it is doing now conforms with the government's national security
policy. Do you have a copy of that policy?
LCol. Last: The National Security Policy was published back in April, I believe.
Senator Banks: I wanted to make sure that I knew which one you meant.
Dr. Boulden, I think you were happy in saying that there is not a gap in our commitment capability. I think there is
because we could not sustain the nature of those first 800 people that we sent to Afghanistan. Even though we were
asked to succeed them in a normal rotation, we could not and we had to say, "Sorry, we cannot, we are down." I think
we do have a gap in our commitment capability if that was a commitment. Maybe we did not make the commitment,
but we should be able to.
Do you not think it is important that we are able to do those things? You have discounted, as I heard you say I
think, the seat-at-the-table argument. Our limited experience is that the seat at the table is quite important in matters of
not just defence, but trade and standing in every other sense; that we not be seen as,
"Oh, here come the freeloaders."
Do you think that is an important aspect of determining what our national defence policy ought to be?
Ms. Boulden: I must have misspoken. I absolutely do think there is a commitment capability gap. Maybe where I
became unclear was I think that, in fact, the second gap that we need to focus on is the gap between those commitments
and a broader sense of strategy; a vision of the world out there from which a decision about commitments flows, from
which capabilities flow.
I agree, absolutely, there is a gap. I guess I was trying to say there is another gap on the other side of it. That relates,
in fact, to the question about the seat at the table. I think it does matter, but I do not think that should be our starting
Part of my argument was we tend to get caught up in those things now, multilateralism, a seat at the table, as
objectives. I think objectives should be more substantively derived. A seat at the table and so on are all part and parcel
of achieving those objectives, but they are not objectives in and of themselves. At least, I do not think they should be.
Senator Forrestall: I want to talk a little bit about the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre. You may know, Lieutenant-Colonel Last, that is where I grew up. That was the building where I played in the rafters.
Could you bring us up to date? It is my understanding at least that the centre is going to move somewhere. Have
they found a location yet? If so, where is it?
LCol. Last: I think Ms. Sandra Dunsmore, President of the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre, would be the best person
to answer this question.
Senator Forrestall: She is 1,800 miles from here. You are here.
LCol. Last: The Pearson Peacekeeping Centre has offices in Ottawa now and their principal intellectual capital in
the form of at least three Ph.D.s and both military and civilian staff are located in Ottawa most of the time, except
when they are offering courses at Cornwallis still in the form of dense packs, collections of courses.
They are handing over the classroom and residence facilities in Cornwallis to a private corporation which will
manage conference and hotel-type facilities for these courses. This was driven mainly by funding and by the fact that
neither the Department of National Defence nor Foreign Affairs Canada have a mandate to run regional economic
support programs, which is essentially what the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre looked like in its Cornwallis guise.
In addition to the Ottawa office and the classroom and library facilities at Cornwallis, there is a regional office in
Montreal co-located with École nationale d'administration publique, ÉNAP.
Senator Forrestall: Is that where the centre will wind up?
LCol. Last: My impression is that the centre and the president's office will be co-located with Carleton University,
where they are now.
I think the central thing about the future of the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre is that it has to move and is, in fact, in
the process of moving away from being a centre which offers training to groups of individuals and towards being the
enabler of choice to mobilize resources for regional response.
I think it cannot do this alone, and there is a fundamental conflict between it being on the one hand a government
agency — a government-organized non-governmental organization, GONGO — and on the other a non-governmental
organization, NGO, like all the others that has to compete for government contracts.
There is an RCMP superintendent, Doug Coates, a CIDA peace-building development officer, Susan Brown and
four uniformed officers posted to the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre, but they cannot be informed of what their
departments are doing because that would give the centre an unfair advantage in competing with other NGOs.
This is not a sensible way of using government resources to support government policy which was what the Pearson
Peacekeeping Centre was set up to do.
Really, the parent departments, if you like, the Department of National Defence, Foreign Affairs Canada and
CIDA, have to decide what it is that they want the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre to do and, I think, how to use it as an
enabler, an organization to bring resources together, under the auspices of Canada Corps, for example.
It was one of the Liberal platforms in the last election and it was originally given to the Department of Foreign
Affairs. My informers tell me that it has recently been passed over to CIDA to develop the idea of Canada Corps.
There is a question of whether it is going to be based on youth or experience.
In my speaking notes, I talked about transition. We know Cuba is going to be a problem in the future. What do we
do now in Cuba to prepare for the inevitable transition arrangement? What do we do in the way of prevention? If we
have linguistically and culturally suitable individuals, prepared in teams, given appropriate training in teamwork,
provided with the security assistance of a small Joint Task Force Two team, JTF2, to do security assistance and
prepare for emergency withdrawal, then we can have a 20- or 40-person regional team focused on Cuba in the country
now. This team possibly will have security assistance if the situation gets worse. That provides us with a foot on the
ground for ramping up to an international security assistance team.
The process of bringing together the right kinds of expertise before violence in order to act as both a preventive
measure and a foot on the ground for transition to security assistance and stabilization operations is something that
the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre is potentially well equipped to carry out.
It has to be done with clear government policy and an understanding of what it is that we are sending young people
off to do. It cannot be done haphazardly and at some distance. It cannot be done without combining the intent of the
Department of National Defence and the Department of Foreign Affairs, our development agency and other
government departments. This is policy that has to be made jointly. It is what my Canadian colleague in the U.K., Ann
Fitz-Gerald, refers to as "joined-up government." We have to start joining up our defence policy with the other tools
that help us with prevention and stabilization.
Senator Forrestall: I appreciate your going to that extent with respect to it. Can I ask if this will result in a generic
change for Pearson? Will it become an academic institution if it falls under some federal envelope? If that is the intent,
it is a good one. I wish that would happen. I wish it could have been Acadia University.
LCol. Last: Since I have been at RMC, my efforts have been to include the staff of the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre,
which I worked with before I went to RMC, in RMC's intellectual circle. I think that as a training institution it is much
more effective if it is at the forefront of our knowledge, research and understanding about the control of violence. That
is where it all comes together.
If by "academic" you mean writing, researching and publishing as an adjunct to their training role, yes, absolutely. I
think that is the way they have to go.
Senator Forrestall: I might have added the capacity to offer degrees for various levels of studying, had I gone a little
further. Why was some association between RMC and Queen's University rejected?
LCol. Last: I am sorry?
Senator Forrestall: Why did we not use RMC as a base? Why did RMC not take it under their wing? There must
have been a reason. In other words, what was the reason for it going to Quebec?
LCol. Last: The Pearson Peacekeeping Centre's relationship with RMC at the moment is that courses offered by the
Pearson Peacekeeping Centre are accredited at RMC. We send officers to take PPC courses and they get credits toward
an RMC degree.
We also have similar relationships with the regional office in Montreal. In fact, I will be teaching for the regional
office in Montreal and in Mali in December but that is strictly a training course. I will be teaching senior police officers
from nine Franco-African countries. It is a train-the-trainer course and it is not the sort of thing that we give university
Does that answer the question?
Senator Forrestall: It does. I do not want to belabour it because it is probably of personal interest to me, but it does
have some bearing on the educational element of any advice that we consider relevant in this exercise that we are under.
It is a matter of regret that you have had to take it away if regional economic expansion is no longer an aim of
The Chairman: We certainly hope that it is not an aim of the Department of National Defence.
Senator Forrestall: I said government; I did not say defence.
I appreciate it. I wish you luck with it. Anything that you can do to enhance its credibility and to continue to attract
students, the better off we are going to be and the better off the world will be when we have to interface with them, so
keep it up.
As Ed says, "Colonel, you are a good man, you are doing a heck of a job."
Senator Day: Dr. Boulden, when we talked about the various elements of a security team, Dr. Last was just talking
about the Canada Corps and its concept, and we may have an opportunity to influence that development of the
mandate. I am wondering if you have done any thinking about the Canada Corps as a useful tool in this international
security development that we were talking about earlier.
Ms. Boulden: I think it could be a very useful tool. In my experience with students, I see a tremendous opportunity
and a tremendous commitment on their part to such endeavours. They do not have that kind of outlet at the moment
and there are tons of them out there who would love to take it up.
In terms of it being a tool that would fit into the broader environment, absolutely, yes, especially in some of the
post-conflict environments longer term, being there, being on the ground, helping build institutions, overseeing
elections; all that is part of the process. I think they could be an important part of that for sure.
Being at RMC gives you a particular view. There are students there who are already committed to that kind of an
opportunity, but there is, for sure, a ton of others who are in different universities such as Queen's and all the others
who would love that kind of opportunity. It does not exist whereas it does in a lot of other countries. If not as such,
there is an opportunity for young people for a couple of years to get involved and go overseas. I think it is a real gap
Senator Day: My understanding was that it would not be restricted to youth, but would also include other people
who might be in job transition, or who just wanted to volunteer for a year in their educational or professional careers.
Ms. Boulden: I think that is right. That is my understanding, too. From my perspective, I think the student part
should be an important element. It works both ways. They are able to contribute to what is going on, but they also
learn and develop from that and are able to bring that back to Canada when they come back.
Senator Cordy: I am just wondering whether or not Canada has clearly defined what our national interests are. Dr.
Boulden, when you spoke earlier, you said Canadians or the government are all against terrorism, but we, in fact, do
not have a policy on terrorism or an anti-terrorism policy. I am wondering if you could expand on whether or not we
have actually defined what we are for or against, or what we should be for and against in terms of Canadian interests.
Ms. Boulden: In a broad sense as opposed to just with terrorism?
Senator Cordy: Yes.
Ms. Boulden: If you ask anybody, they would probably come up with a set of national interests. If you gave a list of
ten, seven to eight of them would probably be the same roughly, if you are talking to different people. However, as a
government, as a country, I actually do not think that we have sat down and gone through that exercise, certainly not
since the end of the Cold War. I think we need to, because there are questions like the way things are in the security
environment now. Territory and regionality matter a great deal more than they have in the past. We have not yet
learned how to think in terms of our interests in a regional framework, for example. It is just one example.
What about our region as a continent of North America and then more broadly, a link to South America? Do we
have national interests there and, if so, how do we pursue them? For example, there is a traditional reluctance, I think,
among Canadian policy-makers to think of Mexico as a natural ally. If we sat down and articulated national interests
more clearly, we would probably find that they are a natural ally, or that in certain situations, anyway, it would be in
our interest to team up with them more effectively.
That is one example, but you can go across the board on the terrorism issue. It is a tough issue not just for us, for
everyone. At the international level, they have struggled for years on how to define terrorism, on how to work out what
is legitimate in terms of responding to terrorism. There are no clear answers because every situation is different.
Especially when you get into an international environment, everybody has a different view on what is acceptable and
what is not. For example, one of the reasons there has been difficulty establishing a definition of terrorism at the
international level is because a number of countries believe that in certain situations, when that is your only option, like
severe repression or back in the early post-World War II days, decolonization, then terrorism is actually acceptable. It
is the problem of, "one person's freedom fighter is another person's
Not diverting from the question about international interest, I think that if we actually articulated more clearly, if
we actually sat down and looked at the international environment and described it for ourselves as a starting point and
then from that basis, developed a set of objectives, that is my desired way to go about it. I know that it is not
everyone's. The definition has a tendency to lean towards the threat-based determination of the environment, for
example. Some people are not comfortable with that, or they think there are alternatives.
Senator Cordy: That is certainly something that would have to be done. I think, Dr. Last, you said earlier that you
could not do that just from the military perspective. In fact, it would have to be a government totalitarian perspective
that you would look at.
Senator Banks: Doctor and Colonel, you both have an objective experience of the attitudes of young people, the
men and women, who come to RMC.
I was thinking, Colonel, about when you talked about those previous conflicts in which Canada has often
distinguished itself. I do not know this, but Canada has never been prepared for any of those conflicts. We have always
had to ramp up after the fact.
The people who went there for whatever reason were always prepared, willing and sometimes even anxious to fight
for whatever it was that they believed in which, for the sake of my question, let us call
"national interest," that
everybody used to subscribe to. Whether they were right or wrong is beside the point; whether they were found
afterwards to have been right or wrong is beside the point. At the time, people who came here came to RMC, I am
going to assume, knowing that they were going to join a military organization and that the object of it someday
probably would be to fight.
Do the people who come here still think that? To go further, are they still willing to do that, to fight for what they
perceive as a national interest?
LCol. Last: I think the short answer is yes, but there are some nuances that are worth considering.
I have taught Canadian politics, civics and society there for five years now and I teach all the first-year Arts
Anglophones. Each year, I ask them about their motivation, their interests and what they are at RMC for. We have
seminars as well as larger classes. I would say that from that convenient sample of first-year cadets, in the first year,
there is generalized enthusiasm about the idea of public service, but some scepticism about whether or not they want to
spend very many years in the armed forces.
I think as they learn more about the armed forces, the enthusiasm of some goes up and the enthusiasm of others
goes down. However, the idea that there is a greater cause to be served, that they are not in this for themselves, that
seems to be almost universal. Certainly, it is to the extent that they are prepared to discuss their personal motivations
with someone in uniform at the front of the class or around a seminar table.
One of the things that I would like to see us do more effectively is capture that enthusiasm for public service,
whether or not it is devoted to the idea of leading bayonet charges. It may be that we do not need very many people
who are prepared as 18-year olds to go out and lead bayonet charges. We certainly still need them. However, with a lot
of the more sensitive, thoughtful and dare I say it, young lady cadets — I don't mean that as a gender stereotype, but I
think there is a correlation between combat motivation and their prior education and experience coming to the college
and there is a correlation also with gender there — I think we want to tap that enthusiasm and that desire to serve,
whether it happens to be combat-oriented or otherwise.
The kinds of security threats, the kinds of national interests that you are exploring are just as likely to be served and
served well by those who are not prepared to mount a bayonet charge as those who are. I think we can use all these
young people and I think there is tremendous potential amongst them.
Ms. Boulden: I echo David's remarks and also note that I have been at RMC less than a year, so I am at a bit of a
disadvantage in terms of commenting on that.
Senator Banks: But all the more objective.
Ms. Boulden: I agree with David. I think that it varies, but that everybody I have come across is committed to the
idea of being part of something that is bigger than themselves, and remarkably so. It is one of the things I have really
found interesting, happily so, on coming to RMC; that sense both of community and of commitment.
Senator Day: Another question on this team approach, from a point of view of monitoring and learning lessons, are
you set up to take a look at Canada's stated intention to create a provincial reconstruction team, I think it is referred
to, in Afghanistan? That seems to be fitting into what we have been talking about and it will be important because this
is the first time we have done something like this, to monitor this.
Ms. Boulden: I agree. They are a model that I think will be important for a lot of other operations. Afghanistan is
probably one of the most difficult places you could be in to test it. However, it does fit into this broader framework
that we have been discussing, absolutely.
One of our colleagues is already there now, David was just saying, as part of that process. Maybe he could speak
more specifically to that.
LCol. Last: Dr. Sean Maloney is currently in Kabul and going north to look at several of the provincial
reconstruction team, PRT, models. Dr. Michael Hennessy, one of my RMC colleagues, is researching the idea from an
historical angle. I can send you a copy of a chapter in a forthcoming book about the evolution of special operations
that deals specifically with lessons of the PRT experience in Afghanistan.
Senator Day: That would be very helpful if you could send it to the clerk. Thank you very much.
The Chairman: Dr. Boulden and Colonel Last, we appreciate your time here very much. You have been of great
assistance to the committee. You can see by the number of questions and the interest in your testimony that the
committee has found what you have had to say very useful.
Our next witness is Major-General Andrew Leslie. He has had a distinguished career in the military. He started his
career in the reserves in 1977. In 1981, he transferred to the Regular Forces. He has served in several important
positions, including Commander of First Canadian Mechanized Brigade and Commander Land Forces Central Area. I
am not sure if I got that right, but you will fix me up if I did not.
Recently, he held the responsibility of Commander Task Force Kabul and Deputy Commander of the International
Security Assistance Force, ISAF, in Afghanistan for a six-month period. Upon his return, he served as Assistant Chief
of Land Staff in Ottawa. He is currently doing a Ph.D. at RMC.
Welcome to the committee, General. We are very happy to have you here. We are anxious to have you talk about
your personal experiences and to receive your advice to the committee in our professional capacity. We understand you
have a short statement. The floor is yours.
Major-General Andrew Leslie, Canadian Forces: First and foremost, I would like to congratulate you on the
excellence of the work you are doing, and bringing to the fore in public fora a very timely debate about the future of
the Canadian Forces.
You have asked me to speak about my experiences as a field commander and how they reflect on the future of the
Canadian Forces. I submit, with your approval, the best way to do that, in about ten seconds, is to open myself up to
your questions. I am more than pleased and, indeed, honoured to share my experiences in and of Afghanistan with
you. However, as I am sure you appreciate, there are limits to the extent that I can address the broad topics of the
future of the Canadian Forces, but I am certainly willing to explore those limits with you. There is still lots I can talk
about in the context of Afghanistan.
If you have any questions in French, I would be pleased to answer in the language of Molière.
Sir, that concludes my statement. I am certainly available and at your discretion.
The Chairman: General, if I could only get members of the committee to ask questions that briefly, we would have a
hell of a committee here!
Senator Banks, you have the floor.
Senator Banks: Admonition heard, Mr. Chair. I am afraid, however, I cannot be as brief as the General. I had
mentioned to the General before that I had the pleasure of being present when there was a change of command when
he was the Brigade Commander and I remembered his words then which were inspiring. We are delighted to have you
with us, General.
We cannot deal very much with the future, let alone the present, unless we understand clearly the past. I think that is
a lesson that has been said much better by others, but if we do not know what went on before, we are going to be hard-pressed to determine what should happen in the future.
You are one of the few people that we will have the opportunity of speaking to and of hearing from who have had
direct hands-on experience and are able to speak to us from the standpoint of hard experience, hard learned experience.
You can also speak from the standpoint of complete professional capability which you have demonstrated to the great
pride of our country and, may I say, to the men and women who served under you who had, as I am sure you have
heard, the highest regard and highest possible esteem for you.
We have heard from others, and we heard at the time and we have heard in reports, in articles in magazines and
books after the fact, that with respect to the resources that you had at your disposal, traded off or compared against
the orders, mandate, and terms of engagement, and the job that you and your men and women were given to do, that
there was some disconnect. There was disconnect between what ought to have been on the left-hand side of the paper
with respect to resources checked off against the right-hand side of the paper.
I will stop there because that is where the question should start.
In your professional judgment, as a country, were there things we could have done better to make sure that the men
and women who were under your command and your direction could have done an even better job, if that is possible,
than the sterling one you did? I might parenthetically point out in that question that you and your people were
regarded by the senior commanders there as the best people on the ground, and they said so which is something of
which we are all very proud.
However, we have heard reports that it could have been easier and more efficient than it turned out to be. What, in
your professional judgment, is the truth of that?
MGen. Leslie: Senator, if I may very briefly go back in history and at the risk of opening up an old wound, refer us
all back to Somalia in which a variety of incidents, crises, command-and-control issues, architectural problems, and
training issues arose.
As you know, I have been on several international missions as have a large portion of the soldiers of the Army and,
indeed, of the Air Force and the Navy. We have learned the lessons of Somalia. I am not saying we are perfect by any
stretch of the imagination, but not on our watch, not again.
Somalia gave us, if you would, our watershed in terms of a crisis of competence. That is the background. I and my
senior command team went through pretty carefully all the lessons learnt and some of the excellent investigative work,
the forensic work, if you would, on some of the contributing factors to that mission.
I guess the simplest way — and you will forgive me if I go on at some length and, obviously, shut me down if it gets
boring — is to describe the process that we went through to get ourselves ready to go in terms of the mechanics.
Obviously, it is the Government of Canada who decides where to send their soldiers, sailors or airmen. We do not
play a role in that, nor should we. From the outset, from DND's perspective, I was involved in crafting the
instruments, if you would, which gave us the legal writ to go overseas and do that which we had to do.
In the past, the operations orders, the desired objectives, the end state, the Government of Canada objectives were
not clearly defined. That is not the case for the mission in Afghanistan. This did not arise out of the blue. A whole
bunch of really smart people spent a great deal of time and effort coming up with those instruments, not only within
DND, but within PMO, PCO, Treasury Board, DFAIT, CIDA and the list goes on.
We actually had some remarkably coherent guidance that was not issued in isolation. It was bottom-up and top-down and it sort of met in between. It all started with a strategic reconnaissance where they sent the designated
command team of which I was the team leader — the officer who we thought was going to command Kabul
multinational Brigade, representatives from CIDA, representatives from DFAIT, the Battalion Commander, the
Service Support Commander — over to Afghanistan in March. The team was to check on the feasibility and what we
thought we, as a professional military force, would need in terms of assets, structure, organization concepts and the
We then came up with an estimate, a concept of operations and some deficiencies, things that we think we needed
either in terms of the number of soldiers or technological capabilities. We got them all.
A variety of technologies were introduced into service very quickly, ranging from G3 night-vision equipment, to
more flag fest, uniforms, unmanned tactical aerial vehicles, little wee spy planes, unattended ground censors, radars,
detecting incoming rocket fire which thank goodness we had, and extended range ammunition for the light guns. I
cannot remember the total of your tax dollars that went in terms of new equipments and technologies, but it was well in
excess of $100 million. That was pushed through the system in a matter of weeks and months.
Vis-à-vis the training, I was the officer responsible for training that organization. I was the Commander of Land
Forces Central Area which the Senator referred to. If the training went well, I do not take any credit for it. That is
because I have a whole bunch of really smart colonels, lieutenant-colonels, majors, captains and chief warrant officers
working for me.
We focused on war fighting because, based on our original estimate when we did our first reconnaissance to
Afghanistan in March of 2003, if the situation had become thoroughly unpleasant — and it was on a knife edge — then
the greatest concern was not necessarily the terrorist, be it Al-Qaeda or Taliban, but trying to resolve the various
political issues of the war lords, some of whom are members of President Karzai's cabinet, using overwhelming force.
When we got to Kabul, for example, there were over 300 heavy weapons in and around Kabul — rocket launchers,
and tanks, some of them owned individually. All those had been policed up and put in contaminaries, I am glad to say,
but it gives you some idea of the absolute chaos which faced not only President Karzai, but indeed the Canadian
contribution to ISAF.
I hope I have described to your satisfaction, the instruments, if you would, that provided us the foundation to figure
out what it is we were supposed to do and how we were supposed to get it done.
As I said, I have been on a lot of missions and this was the most coherent with the clearest guidance I have ever seen.
I have absolutely no criticism of that. I am not trying to fluff you either. If I had criticism, I have known you a little
while, I would tell you. I think it was pretty damn good.
The training lasted about three months. What it entailed was taking close to 4,000 soldiers to Wainright and putting
them through their paces in a large live-fire brigade-level training activity, the first for many years for the Canadian
Army. It was focused, as I mentioned, on combat because of the uncertainty of the various political factions inside
It was very expensive, about $40 million, all told. I guess the saving grace, in terms of efficiency if you are looking
for that sort of thing, is we trained two of the battle groups that were launched within a couple of months of each other
from Central Area; one to go to Bosnia and the other to go to Afghanistan.
If we had to do it again, some people feel that we should have spent more time doing peace support type of training,
in other words, not necessarily the combat training to the intensity that we did. They are more than entitled to their
opinion. If I had to do it again, I would not change much. There is minor tinkering around the edges that we would
I believe the soldiers were well trained. We could always use more time. I believe deep down that we are 100-per-cent
ready to go, especially if we know that there is more time available. However, I honestly believe the soldiers who went
overseas were well trained. There was the occasional one or two of the augmentees who joined the force very late or as
a result of casualties, replaced those who had to be sent home in one shape or another. Maybe their training could have
been more coherent, more focused. However, that is not necessarily a systemic issue. It is the ones and twos.
With regard to the rules of engagement, they were remarkably robust. Essentially, they allowed me to use my
judgment on when I could use lethal force to accomplish the mission, which is a fairly broad parameter, a lot of
responsibility. Quite frankly, that is the way it has got to be. I was actually pretty happy with the rules of remarkably
With regard to equipments, most of the equipment we had, at the expense of the rest of the army, was first rate. Let
me try and elaborate on that. Because it was such a big mission and because the risks were so high, we essentially had
to go around to the rest of the army's assets and get a significant percentage of the army's equipment, the top-of-the-line stuff, to take with us. That, of course, had an impact on the soldiers back in Canada because the vast majority of
the really top-line equipment went overseas, and also the new stuff was all overseas.
Have I addressed the three broad themes that you were after?
Senator Banks: You certainly have. I thank you for that.
We can assume that the stories that we heard about the scrounged stuff from other people over there, other than
from our own resources of which there are many stories, are small, anecdotal and incidental. Generally, you were
happy with the materiel that you went there with?
MGen. Leslie: Yes, sir. Now, it depends on your perspective as a Task Force Commander and Deputy Commander
of ISAF. As a Task Force Commander, I was looking after the entirety of the 2,300 Canadians both in Kabul and
elsewhere and as the Deputy Commander of ISAF, I looked after the other 33 contingents.
We, as an army, are amazingly good at scrounging. Soldiers will always try and get the best for their team-mate,
their section, their platoon, their company, call it what you will. I am trying to think of a specific example. If you could
help me out here by giving one, maybe I could try and either explain it or articulate it with more definition.
Senator Banks: I cannot remember the detail. I think it had to do with some communications stuff, that there was a
deficiency and we had to borrow stuff from the Americans.
While you are at that, the last part of my question is: Tell me about getting there.
MGen. Leslie: If I could go back to communications first, when we arrived, Brigadier-General Peter Devlin was the
Brigade Commander. He brought the entirety of his headquarters and signals squadron with him. As we are supposed
to do, we brought formed teams, people who had worked together for years and, quite frankly, people that the force
Sergeant-Major, a superb soldier called Chief Warrant Officer E.J. Gapp and I had hand-picked to take part in this
On arrival, it was realized that the people who had been there before us had not established a communications
architecture with the numerous battalions and companies that made up ISAF, once again, 33 nations in my time. The
decision was made to push out Canadian communications equipment to them at just about every level. We then had to
go back essentially, simplistically to picking up the phone, saying, "Hey, we need more stuff over here." Within a
matter of days, it arrived. We also installed a variety of civilian communications structures in and around Kabul that
had a dual purpose.
Senator Banks: Getting there.
MGen. Leslie: Getting there, it was just like the movie; plane, train, ship, plane again and then eventually, rumbling
through the streets of Kabul.
The two shiploads of equipment followed by, I believe, a third were sent from Canada to Turkey. Then, the
equipment was flown from Turkey to Kabul. Kabul is at 6,000 feet. I know certain members of the committee have
been there so they know it. There is only one way in and one way out, especially in a hostile environment. Everything
that arrived for ISAF, not only for the Canadians, but for all the rest, had to be flown in. There are several exceptions
to that, but in the main, that is the truth.
The aircrafts that were used ranged from charter to Hercules to everything in between by all the contingents. The
maximum capacity of Kabul International Airport which, as the Deputy Commander, ISAF, I had total oversight in
running, about 550 minutes a day throughout the year, was 55 flights, so you get a ten-minute slot, at any one time.
There would be 15 or 20 charters on the ground, unloading or loading, with very tight time-lines.
When we first arrived, there was a high threat of surface-to-air missile attacks. The tactical aircraft, carrying our
single most precious commodity which is our soldiers, would sort of wiggle through the mountains and slam down on
the runway; very exciting. You get a really good appreciation for the skill-sets of some of our pilots.
Does that answer?
Senator Banks: Yes. Overall, we would be able to take from you the impression that with respect to that mission in
particular, there were no significant deficiencies in respect of your materiel.
MGen. Leslie: No.
Senator Munson: Thank you very much for getting us out of Kabul safely, on behalf of the former Prime Minister. It
was quite a ride both in and out of Kabul that particular day.
Based on your experiences, I am curious. When I went overseas as a reporter and covered a few war zones, the
Canadian military was well thought of. Then, I came back after ten years and there was Somalia as you talked about.
How would you define the Canadian soldier in today's world, post September 11, his or her work and, based on
your experience, how can we make that soldier much better, equipped and/or otherwise?
MGen. Leslie: I believe that our reputation has to be re-earned. Tragically, in sometimes extraordinarily
complicated and dangerous circumstances, the cost of re-earning them has to be paid at times in blood. You cannot
rest on your laurels.
I believe that the missions that not only the soldiers in Kabul have done recently, but the airmen who supported
them and the ships who did such good work in a variety of venues have gone a long way towards re-establishing any
loss of credibility which we may have suffered over the last little while.
We have a reputation for being particularly good at whatever it is we are doing. If you will forgive me a segue, I do
not think there is any one term which covers that delicate and complex blend of peacemaking, peacekeeping, directed
operations, limited war fighting, humanitarian support and establishment of the rule of law. Whatever that word is, I
suspect, actually I know because I interact with a significant number of very senior generals from other armed forces
and a variety of ministers from other countries, we are held in high regard.
There are other nations who are held in equally high regard for this delicate blend which, at times, is not delicate at
all. The British are very, very good at this as well.
Does that answer your question?
Senator Munson: It does. I understand there are some ground rules, but I hate ground rules. Based on your
experience, do you have any personal views of where you see the armed forces going in the future in this new world of
terrorism? We always talk about the armed forces being stretched thin, being asked to do this and being asked to do
that. Yet, every time you are asked to do this or that, you get kudos of people who appreciate what you have done.
Looking down the road, I guess the question is: Have we been stretched too thin and how do we focus in this
MGen. Leslie: Sir, especially on my times overseas, many a day I have woken up and thanked God I was a
We are a blessed nation. Like a large number of nations, we have internal issues, obviously, but I think we have
something to contribute internationally. Based on the excellent work of the various academics who are trying to pound
some knowledge into my head with limited degrees of success, I would argue that the three broad themes of our defence
policy have remained remarkably consistent for arguably close to 50 years. Those themes are sovereignty, the defence
of Canada and the United States and such expeditionary ventures as we may, from time to time, assume in cooperation
with our allies and friends.
It is a changed world. The end of the Cold War and 9/11 really will serve historically as watersheds, pivotal moments
in the evolution of not only a variety of defence structures, but indeed, a variety of systemic issues in which states
structure themselves to either interact or to resolve their issues.
If we are a blessed nation and we are particularly good at such limited expeditionary ventures as we may assume
from time to time, I believe that it would be in all our interests if we were to do more of them. They would be carefully
chosen obviously by the Government of Canada, while not losing sight of the fact that we have a responsibility
obviously to defend our citizens and their interests and values here, but also overseas.
There is an argument to be made that we are going through almost a period of decolonization now, with the collapse
of the Soviet empire and the ripple effects over the last 10 to 15 years. The current flashpoints are all those flashpoints
which existed at the height of the Cold War, but of course, the various national aspirations have been muted, sort of
bound up in the chains of the Cold War. All the crystal links are now broken.
There are many, many failed states out there wherein there are warlords who are willing to use whatever means,
flawed religious interpretation of what is actually a very coherent and graceful, social program or social document first
expressed in 610 A.D., to seek and acquire personal power. I think we can help in trying to address some of the issues
over there because if we do not, those problems will impact on us here.
I guess the bottom line is I believe that the Prime Minister has said such which is why I am personally and
professionally delighted to see the addition of 5,000 personnel for the Regular Force and 3,000 for The Reserves.
Senator Munson: With that, do you have any personal or professional views on how that 5,000 plus 3,000 should be
used in those trouble spots in the world or at home?
MGen. Leslie: Let me draw you an analogy, if I may, senator, and that is Canada's initial contribution to Task
Force Kabul which was, obviously, Kabul-centric.
The argument was that you could not abandon President Karzai and his senior leadership, and the international
organizations which were desperately starting to do their good work — it has progressed a great deal since I was there
— from Kabul. You had to focus on the heart and the brain, if you would, of a pan-Afghan vision by focusing a lot of
assets inside Kabul.
Eventually, you have to take the idea of the rule of law elsewhere. You have to spread it. If I can draw now that
national vision of Afghanistan and apply it to the larger context of some of the geopolitical considerations you are
wrestling with, I guess what I am suggesting is a certain sense of balance. I suppose that the work that you, your
colleagues and the Government of Canada at large are doing, will, in large part, decide where those 5,000 and 3,000 go.
As an Army officer, I believe that a certain significant percentage of those troops would best serve Canada's
interests if they were reassigned to the Army. I am also very cognizant of the fact that the Army, under the law, is not a
stand-alone entity. The last time I checked, the Canadian Forces were a unified force.
I guess in submission, the right approach is being taken. The Government of Canada said,
"We are very interested in what you are doing. We believe in it. Here are 5,000
additional regulars. Give us some advice on where they should go in terms of
division between the three traditional elements."
I would like to see us do more of these types of carefully selected missions that best serve not only Canada's national
interest, but indeed, try to help. The bottom line was your young men and women, patrolling the streets of Kabul —
and you were with them, you have seen it. If they had not been there, how many hundreds of thousands would have
died if things had exploded once again? Of course, the number is almost incalculable.
Does that answer your question, senator?
Senator Munson: Would it be a really bad pun to say you are passing the buck to Buck?
MGen. Leslie: Passing the buck to Buck, you are referring to Admiral Ron Buck speaking next week, sir; is that
Senator Munson: No. Thank you very much. I will wait for another round.
Senator Day: General, thank you very much for being here. Let me start by congratulating you on the meritorious
service medal that you received. I must say at the ceremony, I was struck by the number of officers and members who
had served in Afghanistan who were honoured with the award. I congratulate you and all those officers and members
who received the award. It was heartening to see.
We have been talking to the Royal Military College of Canada and one of the aspects that has come out is the role
and function of the reservist going through the RMC and perhaps other non-military people having an opportunity to
be exposed to the training there.
I looked at your résumé. You studied in Ottawa, then you went to London, and later on, you were studying in
Geneva, all as a reservist before you joined the Regular Force. Is that correct?
MGen. Leslie: Yes, sir.
Senator Day: Is there a bit of a story there? You had not decided whether you wanted a full-time career or how did it
happen that you had not joined the armed forces as a regular officer before the studying took place?
MGen. Leslie: Sir, I applied to join the Regular Force at the same time that I was accepted to go off and do more
academic training. In those days which go back a couple of decades, I was told to choose. So I chose to stay in the
reserves, do the academic stuff and then, joined the Regular Force.
Senator Day: The reserve force was flexible enough to allow you to continue to do that?
MGen. Leslie: Absolutely, sir. I had a ball, quite frankly.
Senator Day: I think that is good news because it is important that we be aware of some flexibility that exists within
the armed forces and between The Reserves and the Regular Force.
We have heard some difficult stories and difficult situations in our past investigations in that regard. I think it was
primarily from the Navy point of view, as I recall and remustering to Regular Force from The Reserves but that will be
for another day. I just wanted to highlight the fact that you had done that and it seems to have worked very well for
Education within the armed forces has been another issue that has been discussed over the last two days in our
committee. At one time in the armed forces, I have the impression that stepping out of a command position or line
position and going back for further education might not have been considered as a good career move. Has the armed
forces changed in that regard? You have stepped out of a command position and you are back in an academic
environment as a student. You will probably be teaching as well, but can you comment on that situation vis-à-vis the
armed forces generally?
MGen. Leslie: Currently, sir, I am an army of one quite literally. I agree with you. I think in the past, those who
pursued advanced academic training suffered career consequences. There is a variety of individuals who spring to my
mind — and you will forgive me if I do not bring them up because I do not wish to cause —
Senator Day: We may know a number of the same people.
MGen. Leslie: Right. I think the pendulum is starting to shift, but I am not so naive as to think that in all cases, all
supervisors, be they military or civilian, see the value. I do know that the senior leadership within the armed forces is
very interested in ensuring that there is a broad rounding out not only of their senior officers, but of the soldiers who
do the real work, in terms of giving them exposure not to training, but to education. I know that you are aware of the
difference between those two concepts.
Senator Day: Yes.
MGen. Leslie: I think we have come a long way, but there is still room for improvement.
Senator Day: I am glad you are there as the vanguard and the example, a good example. We appreciate what you are
Could you talk a bit about your experience in Afghanistan in terms of the provincial reconstruction teams? We had
some discussion earlier about the multidisciplinary approach and the NGOs that are going to be needed to help rebuild
these failed societies.
The armed forces aspect of that team: Is the training different and do those skills exist within the armed forces now
or should they be police? Explain to us a bit about what the concept is, would you?
MGen. Leslie: Yes, sir. I think I visited most of the provincial reconstruction teams when I was there. I believe there
are currently 14 or 15 up and running, with several sub-satellites. I guess there are three broad models — there are
more — but in terms of the menu of provincial reconstruction team composition.
First and foremost is the American which is staffed or manned by, in the main, National Guardsmen who specialize
— reservists, if you would, in the Canadian context — in rural reconstruction, civil affairs, humanitarian affairs. More
often than not, the team leader is such an individual, usually a civil affairs lieutenant-colonel or a full colonel.
They have a variety of specialties which are the equivalent of our CIDA, our Solicitor General Canada, our
Agriculture Canada, and our Foreign Affairs Canada, doing a variety of tasks that are all coordinated by a lieutenant-colonel or colonel.
The security is provided by standard soldiers in roughly the 100 range of the main infantry, some reconnaissance
and some gunners because the occasional rockets thump into these PRT sites and you have to have a variety of means
to deal with them.
That is one model.
The second model is that of the Germans, which is a much larger construct with a heavy emphasis on force
protection and self-sustainability. They have welfare sections and amazing medical facilities. In the main, they do not
produce much more than the American model, but they can be 300 or 400 in size.
Somewhere in between are the British, both in terms of approach and size.
The skill sets you want from a provincial reconstruction team support the intent, which is to assist President Karzai
in spreading the rule of law. The rule of law is not only part of a security-sector reform issue. It also tries to instil
confidence in the locals who, for close to two millennia, have been in a state of almost semi-permanent war; in other
words, a dust-up followed by retrenchment, followed by regrouping — call it what you will — and then, another clash,
with either neighbours, members of your own tribal faction or an endless stream of hostile forces which have tried to
impose their will in Afghanistan with no success.
Security is the principal issue for the military to deal with. I think the normal skill sets that we find in our company
groups, rifle company groups, are sufficient to deal with providing security to the provincial reconstruction team, no
matter what location is chosen.
There are also liaison functions and there is interaction with the locals through civil arms officers as distinct from
civil affairs experts from CIDA, for example.
There would have to be some mission-specific training, obviously. Unlike some of our allies, we spend a long time
doing mission-specific training to give our people awareness of the local culture, the nuances, the local travel
conditions, and who is doing what to whom, but in the main, I think that group of skill sets is something that the
Canadian Forces could do very well actually.
I do not want to mislead you, though. The American model is a lot smaller than the British or the German, keeping
in mind there are 100 killer teams active around the PRTs because it is a very dangerous place.
The Chairman: PRT?
MGen. Leslie: I beg your pardon, sir, provincial reconstruction teams.
Though they are not directly affiliated with the PRT, more often than not, the American sites are on areas which are
potential flash points. If you wait for the unpleasant elements to come to you, or the weak and helpless you are there to
defend, you will suffer casualties and equally importantly, so will those who rely on you for security.
It is not a group of people who are operating in a benign environment. Afghanistan still remains one of the most
dangerous countries in the world.
Senator Day: The group outside the provincial reconstruction team presumably will be someone from our JTF2,
special operations type of people and the other military persons involved in the provincial reconstruction team. Are
they going through some training now for the unit that we are about to set up?
MGen. Leslie: Sir, I am slightly out of the loop and I certainly stand to be corrected, but I do not believe the
Government of Canada has made a decision on whether or not we will do a provincial reconstruction team.
Senator Day: I may be out of the loop, too, but I understand that perhaps by next summer, we have undertaken to
MGen. Leslie: Absolutely. It is definitely an option under consideration. Next August is the timeframe that I have
heard talked about which gives a goodly amount of time to get ourselves organized and ready, should that option be
Senator Day: It would not take six months to train the soldiers to perform this task then?
MGen. Leslie: The more training time available, the better, whether it is six months or three months. Should we
decide to do that, I think you should talk to, frankly, the very lucky officer who gets to command such a provincial
reconstruction team and see what that officer's opinion is.
The Chairman: General, what sort of commitment in terms of time and resources would it take to bring stability to
MGen. Leslie: Sir, if you will allow me, I will repeat what President Karzai told me shortly before I left, keeping in
mind once again that I am now out of date. I know you are seeing Lieutenant-General Rick Hillier shortly and he has
much more experience at one level higher than I do, but I will still give you an opinion.
The Chairman: I am asking in the context of your experience when you were there. What impression did you have
based on the time when you were serving there? How many more resources we are going to need? When you were there,
how long did it seem that it was going to take before you were going to see stability?
MGen. Leslie: When we were there, sir, the NATO force had a total of about 5,500 soldiers and we thought that
15,000 would be an excellent number with which to work to try to spread the rule of law according to the priorities set
by the Afghan transition authority which is now the Afghan government.
Of that sort of conceptual number, I believe the ISAF strength is now approaching 7,000. Over the course of the
next couple of months, I am led to believe there may be an addition of another 1,000 or 2,000.
In terms of timing, based on my experience, watching Cyprus, Kosovo, Bosnia, Croatia, et cetera, I think we are
looking at a timeframe where the West will have to remain engaged in Afghanistan for two decades.
The Chairman: That is to bring stability. What about democracy?
MGen. Leslie: Sir, President Karzai is a realist and his vision for Afghanistan is a relative degree of democracy, with
a relative degree of security under conditions where young Afghan men and women can get a relative degree of a liberal
education. It is all relative, as I know you know.
Democracy is a new concept for Afghanistan. A lot of international observers were naysayers prior to the actual
presidential elections. There were doom-and-gloom forecasts that no more than 3 million to 4 million would actually
turn out to vote. Afghanistan's population is roughly 28 million. The last data that I had, there were about 10 million
or 11 million eligible voters. The voter turnout rate was over 90 per cent and just under half of those were women.
I think the Afghans are thirsty for the chance to exercise what we take for granted, which is the right to vote for their
leadership. It will take time though for that concept to spread from a federal level down amongst the labyrinthian maze
of relationships that exists amongst the major ethnic groups to the actual subsects; to the tribes and the actual clans.
That is why I give you the figure, my estimate, of 20 years.
The Chairman: If you were then going to set a standard like we set for the Partnership for Peace, PFP, countries —
MGen. Leslie: I do not disagree with your question — it is an excellent question to ask — but I do not have a clue.
The Chairman: Really, what you have described to the committee is 15,000 troops for a generation. Troops are going
to see their children serving there before we arrive at stability and then, a number of generations after that before we
have a democracy if you define democracy as the ability to change governments at least twice peacefully.
My question is: When you were serving there, did you see any viable exit strategy?
MGen. Leslie: Yes, sir, I did. If I may, I will refer you to the same sort of experiences we have had on active
operations in other theatres.
There are lots of these types of failed states, perhaps none as geopolitically significant as Afghanistan — I can come
back to that if you wish me to. If you accept my contention that your armed forces are pretty good at this stuff and we
are in finite supply, then perhaps we could use the example that we are seeing in Bosnia wherein people like us, the
Brits, or others, do it for a finite period of time, lasting five or ten years, then hand it off to those who can do it well
enough, freeing up our assets to go to the really contentious spots that require that unique blend of whatever it is we
bring to this.
Of course, I am not talking about guys like me. I am talking about the 25-year-old master corporal who is assigned a
city block or two or three, for six months. You, senator, were out on patrol with him. At the end of a month, the village
elders all come to him to resolve a variety of issues and, eventually, they come to him and say,
"There are nasty people
just down the street who intend to harm you or us. Please help." The Canadian attitude of firm, fair and friendly is
quite something to see.
In terms of an exit strategy for Canada, obviously, that is a choice of the Government of Canada. However, at some
point, Afghanistan will be an awful lot better than it is now. At some point, I think in confidence, we, Canadians, can
turn over a certain portion of the mission that we are doing to somebody else thereby freeing troops to go to the next
hot spot of which there seems to be a large number.
Senator Cordy: I want to continue on the idea of failed states, considering the experience that you have in
Afghanistan. I think that you said earlier, in answering one of the questions, that there are so many failed states — the
number seems to be growing or we are certainly hearing more about them — that we have to pick and choose where we
I am curious to know how we pick and choose the ones where we go to because we now have many people living in
Canada who have, in fact, experienced life in many of the failed states. Of course, they are going to put pressure on the
government, on their member of Parliament or on the Government itself, to send in military, to send in help to these
failed states. How do we choose which ones that we go to?
You were talking about Afghanistan, that you see it will be 20 years before we have a relative degree of democracy
in Afghanistan. I think we can say the same thing holds true of Haiti as an example. We have gone in, come out and the
problem is never resolved if we go in for the short term.
The Chairman: If I could, Senator Cordy, perhaps you could rephrase that in the context of the General's experience
Senator Cordy: That is what I said initially. Considering his experience in Afghanistan is how I prefaced it, yes.
MGen. Leslie: I take it as so rephrased, sir.
Picking and choosing, of course, is an extraordinarily complex task. The reasons why we went into Afghanistan are
three in number, plus there is a hidden one. It is not a secret, but it is one which is very rarely discussed, but certainly,
all of us who were in Kabul in terms of members of the international community, either diplomatic, developmental or
soldiers, are well aware of.
First and foremost, Afghanistan is a failed state or was, in which a variety of fundamentalist and terrorist
organizations were using as their home base to either plan or launch attacks against either us, our interests or allies. As
you know, Osama Bin Laden started his career, if that is the right term, at the request of a variety of Middle Eastern
actors, setting up base camps, Al-Qaeda, the base. Of course, those base camps are to be found along the Afghan-Pakistan border and they still exist.
Madrassahs — religious schools which have an incredibly flawed and warped interpretation of the Koran which is
actually an extraordinarily sophisticated dialectic that arranges intercourse between a variety of political groups — are
still very much alive.
If we did not send our soldiers to a place such as Afghanistan and it devolved back to a failed state, then more
terrorist acts, such as 9/11 or others, could be launched from that part of the world.
I submit to you that global international terrorism of the type that Al-Qaeda espouses, the nexus of it is within 1,000
kilometres of Kabul, nowhere else. There are lots of other Al-Qaeda or fundamentalist terrorist groups, but that is the
nexus right now.
That is the first reason. It is a failed state and it is in our international interest to ensure that it does not remain a
failed state. I am glad to say that it is certainly getting on its feet.
The second reason is, of course, we consulted with allies and friends and responded to requests.
The third reason is the desire to help.
I know all of these have been clearly articulated.
If I may voice a personal opinion, here is another reason. President Musharef in Pakistan is doing all he can to
support the war on terror. Within Pakistan's borders, inarguably, there are significant numbers of terrorist groups, all
of whom are fundamentalists. The divide between Afghanistan and Pakistan, the current international divide, called
the Duran Line of 1893 drawn by a British diplomat called Duran, respects neither traditional ethnic territories nor
specific terrain features on the ground. It is incredibly rugged terrain and you can cross back and forth almost at will.
What would happen should such fundamentalist groups, who essentially have as their base the Afghan-Pakistan
border, gain access to a variety of instruments — I am talking about nuclear weapons — inside that part of the world?
What would the reaction of China be? What would the reaction of India be? What would the reaction of the United
States be? I do not know, but it is extraordinarily disturbing.
When the Golden Horde invaded Afghanistan in the 13th century, one of Tamerlane's favourite nephews was killed.
Tamerlane then dispatched his great cavalry commander, Subadi, with a variety of cavalrymen to pursue this
unfortunate Afghan which they did for three years, ending up just outside the gates of Europe. That, of course, led to
what we later know as the Mongol Hordes arriving.
What happens in Afghanistan can, will and has had a direct impact on what happens in the West. You can apply
those same criteria, very carefully thought out, to a variety of other hot spots around the world; actually the list gets
narrowed very quickly, very quickly.
Senator Cordy: I am wondering about intelligence-gathering. I know that you did that in an earlier part of your
career. I am wondering from your experience in Afghanistan, whether or not our military has sufficient intelligence
capabilities. Were you getting the intelligence that you required?
MGen. Leslie: We have to get it right every time. Failure to do so results in my soldiers getting killed which
happened. The number of attacks that we dealt with, either on ourselves or on those that we were charged to protect, is
actually extraordinarily large.
The intelligence architecture we had inside Task Force Kabul was very robust. When I include all the various
disciplines, ranging from human intelligence to technical, signal, processing, liaison and other Canadian intelligence
agencies having representatives working hand in glove with the Canadian military for the first time of deployed
operation, the numbers get pretty close to 200, almost 10 per cent of the force.
We had some breathtaking intelligence capabilities inside, in and around Kabul; stuff that I have never seen before.
However, you have to get it right every time to stop them from coming after you or yours and sometimes, we do not.
Senator Cordy: When we are looking at going into failed states such as Afghanistan, perhaps staying for 20 years as
we have done in the past, if we are looking at a defence policy review as a committee, and as Canadians, one of the
questions we have to ask ourselves is: What do we want our armed forces to do?
It seems to be getting broader and broader. Is that true, in fact, that it is getting broader or should we look at more
specifics as to what the armed forces should do?
MGen. Leslie: Based on the experience in Afghanistan, I think we are good at this type of mission. A naval officer
will tell you with equal certainty and truth that they are very good at what they do. An Air Force officer will tell you
with equal certainty and truth that they are very good at what they do.
If the implied question is: Where should we focus our scarce assets to get the best bang for our buck, my simple
answer right now is, I do not know. I know that we have to ensure that we have sufficient resources to take care of our
interests at home, in the context of North America and, to try and help these issues over there before they can come
and hurt us here.
With regards to 20 years, I do not know if Canada will be in Afghanistan for 20 years. I do not know the size of our
contribution say, two or three years from now. Will we have a large battalion group in and around Kabul? Maybe that
is not needed. Maybe now that all the heavy tanks and rocket launchers have been tidied up and the warlords are not
as obstreperous as they originally were — I have chosen my words rather carefully there — maybe it is time to send
smaller forces into other regions of the country.
There are other countries that, as you mentioned earlier, desperately require help. Who goes where and does what
remains to be seen. I know that I cannot do my job as a ground guy without someone to fly me there, to support me
while I am on the ground and provide ships to carry the stuff to where they can be offloaded.
Senator Forrestall: Welcome, General. You have had a fair run at one level. Could I change gears a little bit and ask
a couple of practical questions? I have one that I ask every now and again.
First, what about your uniforms? You have had some experience with them now. Are you getting the right type of
equipment in that respect, seasonal and otherwise?
MGen. Leslie: Sir, I will answer your questions in two parts, if I may.
The new individual kit, which I do not think has yet been issued to all our soldiers — I think there are still some
reservists who do not have it, which is extraordinarily irritating, but hopefully, that is going to be resolved shortly — I
think it is really, really good.
My opinion as a General is not nearly as important as the opinion of the soldiers who actually use this stuff so I
would refer you to them and they will give you the truth. I am not lying to you. I think it is good. I really do. We spent
a great deal of time and money on getting our new stuff when we had to go to Afghanistan.
Green versus brown, was that one of your implied questions?
Senator Forrestall: Yes, I have a whole series of them.
MGen. Leslie: I can deal with that, absolutely.
The decision to wear green to go to Afghanistan was mine and mine alone. We had two sets of tans in our boxes, but
the reason why I chose to wear green was the Afghan people.
When we first went on the reconnaissance, keeping in mind there is an 80-per-cent illiteracy rate there, if not higher,
the Afghan people had no idea what Canadians were, who they were or even what part of the world they were from.
Obviously, the leadership did. They are extraordinarily sophisticated, but I am talking about the people in the street. A
large number of our friends and allies were dressed in uniforms that are remarkably similar to our brown ones so I
chose not to wear those.
Senator Forrestall: What was the result?
MGen. Leslie: They certainly know who we are now. That is why, in part, they have all switched to brown. Keeping
in mind when it was required to wear brown to go up in the mountains and do interesting things, the soldiers would
wear brown. However, in the main, when they were zipping around the streets of Kabul and at night, the green
uniform is really effective. You just blend into the shadows.
I want to reassure you, I and all my soldiers had two sets of tan uniforms in our boxes and two sets of green and we
Senator Forrestall: That is rather interesting.
Can I shift to landmines? Can you start with how major a problem is this with respect to all the reconstruction
teams? How big a problem is it for the troops themselves?
MGen. Leslie: Afghanistan has an unknown number of landmines and more being planted, somewhere between 7
million and 11 million. The numbers are estimates, obviously, with that wide a range. There are bangs and thumps
every night in the mountains around Kabul and in the outlying regions, but you cannot let it paralyze you, your force
or the locals and they do not.
It is a risk you have to live with. Of course, they can and have killed not only our soldiers, but other nations' soldiers
and hundreds if not thousands of Afghanis. It is a huge problem but as with a whole bunch of other places around the
world, we just have to live with it.
Senator Forrestall: Do we have an active Canadian demolition unit?
MGen. Leslie: We have a variety of engineering ordnance disposal teams that go and blow up all the bombs and
mines that we capture in a variety of raids or other preventive actions.
We have mine clearance equipment, but we only really clear mines in Afghanistan if they are in our specific way. In
other words, if we want to go from point A to point B, we will get rid of the mines, clear them out of the way. The rest
of the mine clearance is done by an organization called the United Nations Mine Action Centre for Afghanistan,
UNMACA, which is actually headed by a retired Canadian military engineer who is a wonderful guy.
It serves a variety of functions. Clearing mines is incredibly labour-intensive. It is extraordinarily expensive. The
international funding — which Canada, if not the largest contributor, then certainly the second largest — gives
employment to thousands of Afghan Mujahideen, former warriors against the Russians or the Taliban who would
otherwise be unemployed. That is not necessarily a good thing to have former Mujahideen unemployed.
Senator Forrestall: Did you have enough money as a commanding officer to engage in pursuits that eased
MGen. Leslie: We did not actually hire Afghans to clear mines. That is done by —
Senator Forrestall: I was speaking in the much broader sense, in some form of the reconstruction of roadways, for
MGen. Leslie: You actually had the then Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, now Foreign
Affairs Canada, CIDA and DND working much more closely than they have in the past. The Government of Canada
had dedicated $250 million to reconstruction in Afghanistan for a two-year period. When I was there, the Government
of Canada was working with a quarter of that figure, which is about $75 million to $80 million on a variety of projects.
In terms of the money that was actually available to me as a Task Force Commander for civil affairs, I wish I had
more, quite frankly. I wish that I had easier access to some of the CIDA funds. There were a variety of low-level
bureaucratic entanglements which irritated the hell out of me. I am glad to say that I believe most of those have been
resolved. In my analysis, it was organizations which had not been used to working very closely together in the past and
these were part of some of the growing pains.
Was it a show-stopper? No. As a matter of fact, I think the Minister of Defence at the time stepped up to the plate
and gave us a bag of gold to solve this issue.
Senator Forrestall: God love him. Thank you very much, General.
I want to join with those who have extended their congratulations to you and to your men and women. You do not
go unnoticed, you know.
MGen. Leslie: That is very kind, sir.
Senator Forrestall: Thank you for doing it.
The Chairman: Before we go to Senator Day and Senator Munson, I want to ask you a question, General, that
would be of assistance to the committee.
One of the things the committee is looking at in the course of this study is trying to describe to Canadians how the
Army is of value to them, or ask Canadians if they think the Army is of value to them. How would you use your
experience in Afghanistan to explain to a typical person, an automaker in Windsor or a baker in Winnipeg, why the
work you did in Afghanistan was of benefit to that individual and how it might have an impact on their life?
MGen. Leslie: Sir, it is not only the Army, of course, but I understand the context of the question.
When we go overseas, we are helping protect the weak and the helpless. By doing so, we are trying to make the
world a better place so that, in turn, our children can have better lives as can theirs.
Obviously, we would not be sent overseas unless it was in the national interest to do so. Whether it is an interest of
value is certainly debatable. I believe that the types of missions that we have been doing in the recent past will be the
types of missions more often than not that we will be doing in the future for the next five, 10 or 15 years.
I think that the missions resonate with Canadians. I cannot speak from a point of fact, but perhaps I will be able to
do so after you and your colleagues finish your work.
Senator Day: I am struggling with the concept of who should make certain decisions with respect to defence policy.
Should it be from the point of the Army, the Chief of Land Forces who decides in conjunction with his colleagues at
NDHQ that we will not have a tank any longer in the armed forces because of the amount of funds that are available
and they have to share them around so he says, "I will cut out that." Is that something that should be made at a higher
level with consultation and a little bit more thought given to it as to our future role?
That is one of the examples that I have in my mind. I am wondering if you will talk about specialization because
what tends to flow from that is, what can we train our soldiers for and who should make that decision? Should we have
more communicators and should that be an Army, Milan forces —
The Chairman: Senator Day, could you relate the questioning to the General's experience in Afghanistan.
Senator Day: Did you need tanks in Afghanistan?
The Chairman: It is a little like playing Jeopardy. You make the statement and then you can follow it. Just turn the
statement into a question.
Senator Day: We are running out of time and my friend wants me to move on. I have just moved on.
The Chairman: I just want context.
Senator Day: I have no idea what I was asking.
MGen. Leslie: But it is linked to Afghanistan.
Senator Day: Absolutely.
MGen. Leslie: Let me answer your question with regards to the particulars of the mission in Afghanistan and then
take that argument slightly higher to the level I think you are interested in. You are interested in both answers, of
Senator Day: As long as it is okay for our chairman that you can answer.
MGen. Leslie: No, I did not need tanks in Afghanistan. Let me try and explain why.
None of the international assistance forces or the coalition forces currently working in Afghanistan has tanks. Some
nations have armoured personnel carriers, the track barons, II3s, but they rarely leave the site of Kabul International
The main issue has to do with the message it sends which sometimes is good, sometimes bad, but also the
infrastructure and the impact on the infrastructure. A 70-ton tank in Kabul or a 55-ton tank would grind its way into
the infrastructure very, very quickly indeed.
To answer your question, no. By the way, I did not ask for tanks. If I had put them on the list, no one else said no to
anything else I or my team asked for.
Senator Day: If you had asked, you would have had them?
MGen. Leslie: Certainly, no one gave me any hints that it was a verboten issue. Even if they had, I still would have
asked for them if I thought I needed them.
Senator Day: Could you ask for more mine clearers, for example? Do you make that decision or is that made
MGen. Leslie: Mine clearers —
Senator Day: You just described that a short while ago as to what was going on in terms of anti-personnel mines and
use of a non-military group doing that.
MGen. Leslie: UNMACA.
Senator Day: You also indicated you had some within your group doing it.
MGen. Leslie: Yes.
Senator Day: Who made that decision as to sharing the work?
MGen. Leslie: The force structure was mine. I do not want to take any credit for it if you think it went right because
it is a blend of a bunch of really smart people from corporal all the way up to general, but the responsibility for the
structure of the task force is mine and mine alone.
If I may talk about the larger issue of tanks somehow in the context of Afghanistan, bear with me.
Our defence policy decisions, as you know, are quite properly the purview of the Government of Canada. I am
extraordinarily comfortable with that. I am not keen on generals trying to tell the Government of Canada what to do. I
do not think we want to go down that road ever.
As for the decision with regards to tanks, as you know, the Government of Canada has announced that we are
buying the Mobile Gun System, MGS. In some reports, some media outlets, I have seen articles that say it is a one-for-one replacement or we are getting rid of two tanks and we will replace them with one MGS. I know you are having
Lieutenant-General Rick Hillier appear before you, who commanded the entirety of ISAF. Of course, he, himself, is a
tanker. He is much more aware of the nuances of this issue than others.
However, if I can just set the scene for you, the MGS, which is new technology, is only one of three systems which
forms a direct fire system. It is not only MGS, it is a multi-mission effects vehicle, MMEV. This vehicle takes the
chassis of an Air Defense Anti-Tank System, ADATS, and puts it on a light armoured vehicle with the ability to reach
out and harm something at significant ranges, six or seven kilometres. The Tube-launched, Optically-tracked, Wire-guided missile, TOW, as well, is being taken from the track chassis and put on to the lap chassis.
In the end state, our current thinking is to see a significant number of the MMEVs, forgive me the acronym; the
TOW and the MGS operating as a team. As a matter of fact, very recently in Wainwright, we held the first ever such
exercise to see how these three very sophisticated pieces of technology are going to work together, with some pretty
exciting results. It is a lot of money, too.
The Chairman: We heard the results out there were a disaster. We heard that there were problems in Wainwright.
MGen. Leslie: Sir, you may have me at a disadvantage because I was not there, but I have spoken to two of the
troop commanders; one air defence artillery and one armour. They are going through some drills and lessons. The real
issue with the trial right now though is, of course, they are trying to get the drills sorted out. They are using the
Leopard tank to simulate the MGS, while they are using the tracked variant of the ADATS to simulate the MMEV
because, of course, as you know, we do not have the MGS yet. We still have tanks. We do not have the MMEV. We
still have the tracked ADATS. We do not have the TOW on the lap chassis yet, we are still using the track Ferret.
That is what I know and I would certainly refer you to General Hillier for any specifics.
The Chairman: We heard from people who were invited to watch the demonstration who said it did not work.
MGen. Leslie: Sir, I beg your pardon. I think we are talking about two separate issues here. The first has to do with
the live fire of the ADATS in Suffield. I am not talking about that. I am talking about the recent trial on the direct fire
systems which took place in Wainwright.
The Chairman: I stand corrected. Thank you.
Senator Day: To conclude this, and this is my only question, basically, what you have described is an evolution in
weaponry which is an NDHQ decision versus a decision that should be made from a political point of view in terms of
a defence policy issue. You have described this as an evolution to me now.
MGen. Leslie: Yes, sir. I beg your pardon if I led you to believe that it was NDHQ operating in isolation from
government policy. It has not been. For further specifics, I would really refer you to the Army Commander.
Senator Munson: I have two questions, General.
Would it have been helpful to have had a more robust lift capability to get more equipment to Afghanistan faster?
MGen. Leslie: From Turkey into Kabul?
Senator Munson: Yes.
MGen. Leslie: I think at peak, sir, we were operating two or three flights a day which is all that the windows would
allow because, at the same time, we were coming in, the French and German battalions were both rotating as well. It
was a question of what my Air Force colleagues call "ramp space."
I have no complaints about the equipment flow into Kabul. Obviously, as the ground guy, what type of aircraft and
who owns it, who flies me in, I do not particularly care, so long as I get it and equipment arrives.
Senator Munson: You do not care if it is a charter or a Hercules?
MGen. Leslie: Charter or Canadian Forces; I cannot really comment outside of that because I am not an Air Force
Senator Munson: The last question for me: Based on your experience in Afghanistan, what are you doing in
Kingston? What are you studying? What lesson does it tell to young soldiers and military people that a General is
going back to school?
MGen. Leslie: Sir, the formal answer to your question is I am studying under the Department of War Studies at the
Royal Military College for a doctorate in War Studies. I will do this until someone in NDHQ tells me otherwise, until
the summer. I am trying to accomplish the core courses of the doctorate program with one year of full-time study.
Then, I will presumably do the written and oral exams hopefully next fall and, sometime after that, at night when I get
a job back in the day-to-day life of the armed forces, I will write my thesis.
I think it tells the soldiers and officers of the armed forces that generals do not know it all. We have to be sent to
school, quite rightly, to broaden our horizons and to develop ourselves as individuals so we can help them, the people
in the field, with getting the right kind of kit and focus for the missions that are about to happen.
It is a wonderful opportunity. I wish that more of my colleagues would go through it.
Senator Munson: Thank you very much. It is just like a reporter, going to the Senate!
The Chairman: Only in the Senate, you get the third degree.
Senator Banks: General, I have a short question and then a second short question, but the second one might require
a slightly longer answer, I hope. I need to get confirmation on what you said when you were speaking with Senator
Day about who should decide to buy a Striker instead of a tank. I hope that it will be soldiers who tell the Government
of Canada what they need, not the Government of Canada deciding in some vacuum what they need. Have I got that
right? There needs to be soldiers to say, "Here is what we need to do the job
you have asked us to do."
MGen. Leslie: Yes, sir. I believe that you will speak to the senior-most soldier in the army either next week or the
week after. I think you can rest assured that the Government of Canada has received technical expertise, advice and,
quite frankly, wisdom from General Hillier in this regard.
Senator Banks: Thank you. I certainly hope that that is so. The Government of Canada may not always take the
best advice in respect of procurement, but as long as it is given.
By the way, you have been very modest today about your people saying that they are pretty good at what they do.
They are a lot better than "pretty good" at what they do and everybody in the world knows that.
I am going to ask you a question which, notwithstanding the Chairman's admonition, does not specifically have to
do with Afghanistan or Kabul per se, but certainly includes that in your experience. You are a general officer. We have
the opportunity often of speaking with general officers and with other commissioned officers.
We also have taken great care to speak with senior non-commissioned officers, warrant officers who, as we all know,
actually run everything, with corporals and the private soldiers. We think that is important for the reason which you
expressed earlier when you said, "The soldiers will give you the truth." We think that is right.
In the three years that we have existed, we have been asking questions. I am going to ask you to comment on the fact
that sometimes, the answers we get from the people who are at the really pointy end of the stick are different from
officers who, notwithstanding that they might have been, are not now at the pointy end of the stick.
A corollary question is that we have also heard representations to us that there is a certain inefficiency — in fact, it is
an efficiency, but not necessarily a desirable one — that derives from the fact that NDHQ and DND seem to be
umbilically joined and that sometimes, the military's interests are subsumed by other interests.
I will give you an analogy. I understood that the second I heard it because I spent a lot of years in the theatre. Every
theatre has an artistic director and a general manager and there the truth lies when you find the balance between the
practical interests of one and the aesthetic interests of the other. That tension is absolutely necessary. If one interest
becomes submerged by the other in either direction, then the whole thing does not work. The tension between those
two things is fundamentally and essentially important in order that all of the voices be heard and all the interests be
I guess it is a two-pronged question. If you were the king and had the capacity to say NDHQ is going to be in this
building over here. They are going to determine what the military needs. Then they are going to represent it to DND,
the political guys, over here, and that the truth will be worked out as between them. Would you bring that about, if you
were the king? This is hypothetical entirely.
Second, how are we, in your view, to account for the fact that generals tell us different things with respect to
everything is hunky-dory, and privates tell us that it is not? We have discounted the
"I am mad at the boss" part. I am
talking about, I do not have enough of these and I do not have one of these because I cannot put this together and I
need this piece and we have not had it for three years so we have bought stuff from Radio Shack to somehow make it
The Chairman: This is all from the Afghanistan perspective.
MGen. Leslie: If you put it in that context, I would be delighted to try to stumble through this one.
They are very good questions to ask, sir. Why the difference? I will relate it to my own experience.
I had a lot of fun as a Brigade Commander with outstanding soldiers out west. We did a lot of training in a place
called Suffield which is the only place that a large brigade group can actually flex its muscles and do its business which
is now almost fixed, thanks to a whole bunch of money.
My first brigade group attack I thought went really well. I had three battle groups in line and we were doing our
business. At the end, as is our practice, we gather all the senior leadership; me, my battle group commanders, the
various advisors, the helicopter guys, the air guys, the gunners, the engineers and so on. The feedback was less than
unanimous that it had gone well. As a matter of fact, it was their opinion that it had gone really badly because I was
concerned from my perspective about making sure that a whole bunch of very complicated things happened. However,
in terms of the command-and-control architecture that was portrayed from my brigade TAC, which was an armoured
vehicle down to the battle groups, it was fairly chaotic. It did not go that well from their perspective.
We did it two or three times. Actually, we did it more than that. By the last one, there was a certain degree of
unanimity that actually, it had gone very well indeed. Then, afterwards, you go into huge leaguer and you allow the
subordinates to work through the lessons of, which tanks should have gone where and which gun where. I was right
down at the cold face and I thought it had gone very well. My battle group commanders who are lieutenant-colonels
thought it had gone very well.
I bumped into a carrier that was covered in mud. From their perspective, it had been an absolute disaster because
they had gone straight into a swamp, essentially, and spent the better part of four or five hours trying to dig their way
out of the swamp which, in an armoured vehicle, is not fun. As far as they were concerned, it was an unmitigated
disaster and if they could get their hands on the idiot brigade commander who sent them into the swamp and so on.
You know where I am going with this one. It is a question of perspective and scale.
Another story: When I was Commander of Land Forces Central Area, I would not allow any of my subordinates to
buy any information technology goodies, I think over a $50 value, without my personal approval. This is an
organization which has 13,000 or 14,000 people. That is because I felt that we were wasting far too much money on
office supplies and information technology support that could be better spent getting the soldiers out where they can
get muddy. As a result of not doing so, we managed to spend a lot of money on training.
The story does not end there, Of course, there were certain valuable things which the soldiers and the various bases
needed, microphones and projectors which, if they did not have them, they could not do their job. My desire to take
gold from one administrative activity and put it into the pointy end, to use your language, meant that the year after
that, they had to spend even more money on the administrative stuff at the expense of the pointy-end stuff.
Sometimes, the decisions which are made, or the understanding of the issues which are made, at various levels can be
diametrically opposed, especially as you increase the scale of the issue.
I know you know all that stuff already but why the difference in perspective? I submit, that is the reason. I know all
the generals in the Canadian Forces. I do not know all of them well. The crew that do much the same sort of stuff that I
do, I know extraordinarily well. All of them are hard-working people who honestly believe that they are contributing
to the defence of Canada and they are. Some do certain things better than others. But all of them really want to try and
help the people who should be helped which are the soldiers, sailors and airmen in the field. I honestly believe that.
Some are smarter than others. Some are better looking. As I already mentioned, some do things better than others
but at heart, quite frankly, you would not want to do this unless you really have the passion. If you do not have the
passion, you should not do it. That passion, of course, should be focused on helping the troops in the field.
That was the first one.
The umbilically joined National Defence Headquarters and the consensual model, the matrix model of consensual
decision-making, the favourite bureaucratic tool — I am sure you are well aware of Mr. Lou Gershner and his brilliant
attempts to revamp IBM now close to 20 years ago in which he tried to cut through that incredibly complex paradigm
— is certainly worthy of review.
I am going to take the senator's advice and if you will pardon the pun, I am going to pass the buck. I would
recommend, sir, you address that question to Vice-Admiral Buck who is the Vice Chief of Defence Staff. He is the
officer charged with the efficient running of National Defence Headquarters.
The Chairman: And he will pass it to Mr. Ward Alcock as quickly as he can.
Senator Forrestall: I appreciate your comment and observation. My concern over 35 or 40 years — for a long time
and it always bothers me when I run across it, which is not frequently but several times a year — has to do with truth to
I will not ask you to answer the question, but I hope that that is almost a God-like tenet. It is so vitally important
that people understand that the truth is being passed up the line. That is what is important. The truth in the end, of
course, is the product.
Thank you very much for coming. You have been very, very frank with us. We appreciate it. That does not require
MGen. Leslie: Actually, sir, I would like to try it, but only if the chair allows me.
The Chairman: Please go ahead, General.
MGen. Leslie: If you find a general who has lied to you, you should fire him, quite frankly, just as quickly as you
Senator Forrestall: Why I have never sought the dismissal of a general about which I may have believed, that was, I
was never that certain in my own mind that I had asked precisely the right question. What irked me and irritates me is
that the general did not say, "Hey Forrestall, why did you not ask me this?
Why did you not ask me that? Why did you ask me this for? If you had asked me, I
would have told you."
That is why it is so important that I trust you. I do not even want to question it in my mind. If you tell me black is
black, I will believe you.
MGen. Leslie: That is very kind, sir. I hope not to misplace your confidence.
Senator Forrestall: I know you will not.
MGen. Leslie: That is very kind.
The Chairman: General, it has been a very good session. To wrap up for the committee and perhaps to provide a bit
of focus to the hearing that we have had so far, could you summarize for us the lessons that you have learned, or feel
that should have been learned, in the efforts that have gone on in Afghanistan, since you have been there? What would
you like the committee to have in its mind as you wind up your testimony before us as to the things that we should
remember and focus on as we move forward in the study?
MGen. Leslie: First and foremost, I would recommend — obviously, subject to the concurrence of the Chief of
Defence Staff and the minister, recognizing the type of work you do and its value to creating that sort of debate with
Canadians about where they want there defence forces to go or to be — to go to Kabul. I think you should go there as
an individual. I believe that persons such as yourself and your co-chair and others should go to Kabul —
The Chairman: It is not sufficient to have sent Senator Munson?
MGen. Leslie: Sir, I do not know how to dig myself out of that one, so I am not going to.
Sir, as you continue your deliberations, if the consensus from Canadians emerges that they do like the types of
missions that were conducted in Afghanistan and they understand the rationale for why it was done and the cost
sometimes which we have to pay to protect the weak and the innocent, I guess there are four broad areas which I think
are worthy of us all to think about over the next couple of years. Once again, I am relating these specifically to
For example, aviation support; we had three German helicopters there which were not enough. Our Griffin
Helicopters could not operate at those altitudes, the 6,000-foot altitudes. I would like us to consider, if we are going to
do these types of missions, looking out now, because decisions that we make now about equipment acquisition will not
actually be realized for —
The Chairman: Thirteen years, we are told.
MGen. Leslie: Is that the average, 13 years? For us to think about aviation, how to move soldiers from point A to
point B in very rugged terrain, over hostile forces, which as well implies that those big aviation platforms, those
medium-sized helicopters or bigger ones, need some sort of armed escort of a the similar type of machine which can
deter and protect them.
Second is the implication of some of the new technologies, tactical unmanned aerial vehicles, UAVs, and how they
fit in. We had them in Afghanistan. They did great work, but the ability to use such technologies to see over the next
hill I think are mission winners, whether it is war, peace support or humanitarian support. I think five or ten years from
now, it would be nice if a variety of elements down the army chain of command, company, battle group and brigade,
had their own means of checking out what is on the other side of the hill without sending a young soldier through a
mine field at midnight.
The third is communications and some of the architectures allowing us to gain situational awareness. How do we
find out what the bad guys are doing and how do we exploit that with some of the new technologies which are coming
on line in the electro-magnetic spectrum.
The fourth is light infantry patrol vehicles. Right now, no nation really has an answer yet that I am aware of, though
I am led to believe there is a start of a prototype somewhere in Canada down in London. An idea for the future is a
specifically designed light infantry patrol vehicle that can take four, six, eight, or however many people the experts tell
you they will need, and have a certain degree of ability to survive an anti-tank mine. That is asking an awful lot from a
light vehicle. Tank mines, as you know, are big. They produce a very large bang.
However, the technology is out there. We just have to find it and we have to develop a system of a light infantry
patrol vehicle that will do a better job in the future of protecting our young men and women. I know a lot of other
nations are looking for such technology.
Those are four broad areas, as you think of the future, if I could leave those with you. I take Senator Banks'
comments that actually our young men and women are very good at whatever it is we are doing overseas.
The Chairman: Just so I am clear, the helicopter you were talking about, gun ships. Would that be the vernacular for
this type of helicopter?
MGen. Leslie: Yes, sir, or because we are Canadian, you could call them light humanitarian escort peace things.
The Chairman: Terrific. Can we quote you on that?
MGen. Leslie: No. Well, you can do whatever you wish.
Not necessarily, but something. We are not talking conceptually. We are talking about a force that is out there, as
you mentioned. You mentioned the timeframe for the projects and I would like — it is entirely up to you what you
decide — ideas to be considered now for the future, based on the types of missions that we have very recently done and
that we may be doing in the future, over the next ten or 15 years.
The Chairman: General, thank you very much on behalf of the committee. You can see that you absolutely have had
the total attention of the committee for the last hour and a half. It has been a very valuable experience for us. We
appreciate you coming here and taking time away from your studies. We are very grateful to you for assisting us in our
work in trying to come forward with some form of policy.
We appreciate your help and we wish you God speed.