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Peacemaking and Its Role in Bolstering Canadian Military Professionalism


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Peacemaking and Its Role in Bolstering Canadian Military Professionalism
16 December 2010 As the international view on how combat effectiveness is measured shifts with the change in how international conflicts are resolved, the role of the Canadians as peacekeepers has come under scrutiny. It has been argued that Canada's close tied with the United States has diminished the Canadian Force's relevance and ability to remain current in the modern theatre of war. However, Canada's participation in United Nations peacekeeping operations since 1945 has been a major factor in maintaining and enhancing military professionalism within the CF for the following reasons: 1. Peacekeeping is a dynamic role, always changing and evolving. 2. Peacekeeping and peacebuilding keeps the integrity Canada’s forces a strong presence both at home and on the international stage. 3. The training involved in performing these roles increases the diversity of the Canadian military.

This paper will define what is meant when referring to military professionalism. It will then examine how peacekeeping is defined by the United Nations, the legacy of peacekeeping, and how it is born out of a tradition of combat. There will be a discussion about training peacekeepers, and how the Canadian Forces' role as a peacekeeper impacts our international relationships. In conclusion, the relevance of the CF's support missions and how they do indeed bolster its professionalism will be indisputable.

It is imperative to very clearly define what is meant by military professionalism. Military professionalism includes three elements; expertise, corporateness, and responsibility. Expertise is the specialized knowledge and skills learned through study and practice, and it is capable of being tested according to universal standards that allow an individual to carry out their work in the theatre of war. In peacetime, expertise suggests the soldier's ability prepare for the next potential threat, better than their potential opponents will prepare for them.

"Corporateness" is a way "the members of a profession share a sense of organic unity and consciousness of themselves as a group apart from laymen" . In this way, the members of professional armed forces share a collective identity and a pride in their corps.

Responsibility refers to the military's relationship with its 'client'; the Canadian people through their government representatives. The military is to use its expertise and power to aid the government, but in the end, the Canadian government has supreme authority in how this power and expertise is put to use. The government makes policy, let's the military know objectives need to be reached, and then the military advises the government on how they can get this done. Based on this advice, the government then legislates the military's actions.

Professionals, as such, have a monopoly over the specialized knowledge of a its specific task, and since they are the experts, they are the ones who are to test to see that their members are up to snuff. The Canadian Forces rigourously train and test and evaluate members in their given trades to ensure they are up the the task of protecting Canada and indeed the world . The CF’s mission is not to protect the world.

Peacekeeping and peacebuilding missions have become a big part of the identity of the Canadian Forces, particularly in the public perception of our role in international affairs. The United Nations defines peacekeeping as "the deployment of international military and civilian personnel to a conflict area with the consent of the parties to the conflict in order to: stop or contain hostilities or supervise the carrying out of a peace agreement." Peacebuilding refers to activities that seek “to establish the foundations of peace and provide the tools for building on those foundations” in order to avoid a relapse into conflict. This is more aggressive, and utilizes the skills Canadian soldiers use in combat. The ultimate goal of all peacebuilding efforts is reconciliation among all warring parties and sustainable peace .

Ultimately, post-conflict environments continue to present complex challenges to the international community and, in order to avoid a relapse into violence, effective responses will require greater focus on the transition between war and peace, and longer-term commitments. Increasingly the theatres in which peacekeepers are being deployed is more challenging and unpredictable. Peacemaking and peacekeeping roles are being taken on by the same team. As a result, peacekeepers need to have a diverse skill set.

Canada's decision to participate in a peacekeeping mission is a political one, like in any military operation. DND assesses the availability and capacity of military personnel, while funding for military contributions comes from DND. The final decision to participate in a peacekeeping mission is made by Cabinet. Canada has always been a strong supporter of the United Nations and of peacekeeping and has participated in almost every mission since its inception. Canada’s financial contribution to the UN peacekeeping budget is minimal. Canada contributed 3% of the 2006 assessed contributions to UN Peacekeeping Budget of about $4.75 billion. Over the years, Canada has sent over 120,000 troops as part of UN peacekeeping missions. However, Canada’s role in UN peacekeeping has not been without sacrifice. Canada has the 2nd highest peacekeeping fatality with 114 fatalities .

Every nation has an identity linked with their military, a legacy or myth passed from one generation to the other. For example, America has a war fighting legacy is illustrated in their conflict with Iraq. Canada has been affiliated with larger nations since her inception The Canadian military has been engaged in violent conflict, but where the forces stand out is in leadership and in conflict resolution. This has huge value on the political stage. Historically, Canada has celebrated diversity and tolerance for it; this is key to being a good peacekeeper.

When Lester Pearson won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1957 for his proposal for an emergency UN peacekeeping force to resolve the Suez Crisis, the myth of a peacekeeping Canadian military was born. The people of Canada loved that their force was going to keep peace rather than fight wars. As abstract as that role was at the time, they clung to the idea of altruism the title inferred . The government loved that internationally it garnered praise.

After the Second World War, soldiers spent their entire careers preparing for the 'looming' third world war, a conflict against those countries behind the iron curtain. All this training was theoretical, and troops never had the opportunity to see how it had improved the capability of the Forces in theatre. With the falling of the Berlin Wall, in a matter of a few months the Cold War was over. How could Canada justify having a fully equipped armed force and justify spending twelve billion dollars a year to supply 8800 service men and women? Peacekeeping was a role almost all Canadians could get behind . It would also give the deployed soldiers experience using their training. In short, this 'third person conflict resolution' gave the Forces something tangible to do in a relatively peaceful time between the wars in Europe and the current wars in the Middle East. These missions offered participants critical operational experience with command, control, planning, working with indigenous peoples, performing presence patrols, and immersed with population. Most of the troops who served in Afghanistan who were in leadership position and garnered experience from working in peacekeeping missions .

Peacekeeping is an abstract concept, serving global interest rather than an individual state. Peacekeepers hold opposing forces at bay so leaders can resolve issues unsullied. The CF were now the non-aggressors fighting the bad guys if peacekeepers are supposed to be impartial, who are the “bad guys”?. The Canadian Forces were the 'go to' tool in whose view? to freeze a crisis while politicians try to resolve issues. However, the truth was, and is, that Canadians are good peacekeepers because they are trained soldiers, first and foremost, and can keep the peace once conflict is resolved. Workers who are peacekeepers first cannot successfully fight in a war. They do not have the combat skills. The changing nature of modern theatre of war means that nations have to be able to deploy forces that are able to engage simultaneously in all aspects of strategic peacekeeping - peace building, peace enforcement, and traditional tasks related to maintaining the peace . General Hillier clearly believed that peacekeeping could not be the only role for the Canadian Forces . To him, Canada had an international responsibility to its neighbours, friends, and allies to be prepared for the inevitable combat that comes from some peacekeeping scenarios. The idea that Canada’s military legacy is that of peacekeeping, particularly under UN aegis, survived the demise of UN peacekeeping in the early 1990s. However, our success as peacekeepers was born out of success on the battlefield. Canadian soldiers first contribution to this legacy consisted of frontier warfare in the French and Indian Wars, and it was further solidified during battles in the American Revolution and the War of 1812, in South Africa during the Boer War, and finally in the World Wars of Europe in the twentieth century . Our CF are not just civil servants; they are all trained to use arms and are expected to do so if asked. This goes against Canada's reputation as a strictly peacekeeping, but it is one of the directives handed down but the Chief of Defence Staff, and therefore our duty. As members of the CF, we need to remember that our primary jobs as soldiers are laying the groundwork for peace. If we are going to stop atrocities, we have to not be afraid to use force to do so. Peace making and peace keeping are different. Effective peacemakers need to be able to do both. We have to work in with allies to build peace, and we hold peace once it has been established.

In preparing for the role of multifaceted peacemakers (or peacebuilders) and peacekeepers, training outside of the regular combat scenario is critical for success. Peacekeeping requires training and readiness in a number of diverse realms. It has been established that the peacekeepers are trained soldiers. Just after peacekeeping became a tangible function after the end of the Cold War, specialized training for this role was treated as offshoot of military training; soldier first, then peacekeeper. More recently, the idea that more contact skills were needed to compliment the combat skills. Contact skills include negotiating and mediation, working knowledge of the mandate of the United Nations, understanding of local customs became more important. This schooling had to fall outside regular military training . There is no formal school which studies peacekeeping in Canada. What about the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre? ‘Peace studies’ are taught, but conflict resolution studies which look at the processes and relationships which lead to peace are largely ignored. These contact skills could go far to diffuse tension it before it escalates into a more damaging violence. Military thinking and peace keeping ideologies both are looking for the same outcome.

In fact, peacekeepers need to be able to be self reliant in a combat situation; this is key. Yet, despite through military training, not much peacekeeping was being taught formally. This makes dialling back aggression from combat to peacekeeping tricky for peacekeepers in the field. However, after the Cold War, peacekeeping took on a different light and it became more clear that different training, which meant more of a focus on the peacekeeping aspect, was needed. It was the Bosnia, where the peacekeepers went in before there was actually any peace in place, changed all that. In this unfamiliar scenario, soldiers had to for the first time use lethal force to stabilize the situation, literally be soldiers first, and peacekeepers after the dust settled. It was incredibly challenging to straddle these rolls where here has to be toughness and then diplomacy almost immediately to follow. After this mission, there was a more formal involvement of the Peace Support Training Centre where soldiers are briefed by former peacekeepers. This centre is a venue where peacekeeping veterans share their stories so that when peacekeepers are deployed, they have more realistic expectations about the mission. Based on missions which were not as successful, lessons learned are being incorporated into the training. The government is taking lessons from years of peacekeeping to re-evaluate how people are trained. Peacekeeping is more complex and important, and the training is slowly starting to reflect this.

In the mid 1990, more emphasis was placed on contact skill development to ensure the soldiers peacekeeping efforts were more successful and trainers began to standardize the amount of training soldiers would receive, so it was a more formal approach to teaching the contact skills needed once the weapons were put down. Pre-deployment and mission specific training is being practised commonly now, as the training gradually catches up to the experience garnered from years of missions. At the same time, these soldiers must remain current with combat training for effective conflict resolution.

Canada is always working in coalition with other forces. Peacekeeping secures Canada’s place in the international community. Canada ‘s foreign policy is closely tied with that of the Americans; they are calling the shots , but as well, we take advantage of our access their wealthy arsenal. We need to be able to fight with the best in the world, or risk being swallowed up by them. We are involved in UN exercises but work very closely with NATO. Despite public perception, more people wearing green berets going to combat than are wearing blue berets in peacekeeping roles.

In the 1990’s there was an Americanization of peacekeeping, missions in which Canada would become involved. This is a mutually beneficial partnership. In 1938, then President Roosevelt famously promised to protect Canada from attackers. This is not a selfless gesture; the United States can’t afford for Canada to be invaded. In this century, America needs our neutral reputation. However, it is our professionalism time and again which makes us their perfect partners. Post September 11, the world is in an internationally tense situation, and the US has been a real target. We need to work together as a united North America; the USA needs to trust we will not be a gateway for ‘bad guys’, and we need their power.

Canadians are known for being innovative, and for being great multi-taskers.
Peacekeeping was good way for medium power to impact foreign stage offers security which in turn aids help the cause of peace everywhere. Using Canada in this role keeps main powers from becoming involved directly…lower grade conflict. Canada is seen as nonthreatening and impartial power. Our history with English and French living in relative harmony demonstrates that Canadians have tolerance of diversity. It is this tolerance which is key to conflict resolution anywhere. As peacekeepers working closely with other nations, Canada can build more alliances as our forces support their various missions.

Through peacekeeping efforts, The Canadian Forces gain first hand operational experience. In mission where members are required to straddle both roles of peacemaker and peacekeeper, using combat skills and peacekeeping skills within the one mission, soldiers see first hand how their training and adaptability are invaluable. This gives them pride in their corps, in their expertise and in their role working with international personnel to effect change in the world. Our strength as a professional military give anada legitimacy on a world stage; a strong force with competent soldiers who can enter any situation and be able to react appropriately. Without these missions, our relevance would surely dwindle.

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This paper makes a number of good points and the argument is basically sound. But the essay is fatally weakened by sloppy writing, at the level of both the individual sentence and the organization of paragraphs. This looks very much like a rough first draft, one submitted without the benefit of proofreading.


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