Last October, the Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS) opined that the Canadian Forces (CF) must adopt a more flexible approach concerning the continued employment of wounded CF personnel, rather than compulsory release, where those CF personnel can no longer comply with the exigencies of Universality of Service (colloquially referred to as ‘U of S’). This is not a new comment from the CDS. Treatment of wounded, or ill and injured, CF personnel has been a regular topic of public discourse, media commentary and policy argument since the CF deployed to Afghanistan. Indeed, it was a topic of discussion, if less frequently than it is today, before the commencement of the so-called ‘Global War on Terror’.
The recent comments that CBC reporter Murray Brewster attributes to General Jon Vance, the CDS, have prompted me to offer my observations on what I would characterize as the current CDS’ ‘Legacy Objectives’. Unlike many governments, and even some Judge Advocates General, a CDS will invariably serve a term of less than four years. They will typically have only 2 or 3 years in which to make their mark, indelible or otherwise, on the CF – or even the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF). Some, such as General Rick Hillier, have arguably had an impact that lasted well beyond their tenure as CDS.
So what would be the current CDS’ ‘Legacy Goals’?
I have already commented in this Blog space about two of them. The first is quite clearly linked to the CDS’ ‘mission’ expressed in Op HONOUR. Notwithstanding the awkward phonetic manifestations of that name, the CDS has clearly signalled that it is his intent to be the CDS who eliminated sexual misconduct in the CF (and the CAF). I have previously commented here and here about some of the shortcomings of this particular policy initiative.
I have also commented on another one of the CDS’ more visible goals: it appears that he intends to be the CDS who ‘fixed’ the problems that recently plagued Royal Military College of Canada (RMCC). That appears to be a work in progress, and, as I commented here concerning the Special Staff Assistance Visit (SSAV) to RMCC in late 2016, the conclusions drawn by the SSAV are not without their shortcomings. A future blog article will revisit this subject in light of the recent report by the Office of the Auditor General.
Finally, the CDS appears to have voiced in Mr. Brewster’s recent on-line article that it is his intent to ‘fix’ the current legislative and policy structure concerning the impact that U of S has on wounded members of the CF. However, Mr. Brewster’s brief article offers little clarity on what this policy might look like. A tangible concern, in light of the nature of statements that the CDS has made about this subject in the past, is whether his intended policy shift might be selective of which wounded or ill and injured CF members it will benefit. The potentially discriminatory nature of a selective policy shift is discussed in this linked article.