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Canadian Forces shake up command structure
« on: October 01, 2012, 10:23:14 PM »
Canadian Forces shake up command structure

By Matthew Fisher, October 1, 2012

Since last fall Lt.-Gen Stu Beare has been the boss of Canadian Expeditionary Force Command (CEFCOM). From this Friday he will be the commander of the Canadian Joint Operations Command, which replaces CEFCOM, Canada Command and Canadian Operational Support Command.

The chief of defence staff – who will soon be air force Lt.-Gen. Tom Lawson – is rightly considered Canada’s top soldier.

Lawson, who replaces Gen. Walt Natynczyk this month, will become the senior officer reporting to and advising the Harper government. He will also be the public face of the CF.

But Lawson will not be Canada’s top warrior. The officer who will carry the biggest stick is army Lt.-Gen Stu Beare. Since last fall Beare has been the boss of Canadian Expeditionary Force Command  (CEFCOM). From this Friday he will be the commander of the Canadian Joint Operations Command (CJOC), which replaces CEFCOM, Canada Command (CANCOM) and Canadian Operational Support Command (CANOSCOM).

When the CJOC stands up at a base in an industrial zone in the east end of Ottawa it will greatly expand Beare’s duty and clout. The affable, soft-spoken artillery officer will continue to be responsible for all Canadian troops overseas. This includes 850 trainers in Afghanistan, the HMCS Regina warship now in the Indian Ocean, a small number of Canadians now deployed on UN missions in the Sinai, southern Sudan and Congo and the modest logistics hubs that Canada has established in Kuwait and Germany.

An engineering graduate who served in Germany, Croatia, Bosnia and Afghanistan, the gunner’s new duties will include the little known drug interdiction work that Canadians do in the Caribbean as well as military operations in the High Arctic, which have had a much higher profile under Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Operating in the north is not easy. It requires a sophisticated communications capability, space-based surveillance and drones for targeted surveillance and an awareness of the impact of global warming on military operations there. There are search and rescue obligations across the north, too, which are coordinated with Russia and the U.S., and other public safety concerns that involve monitoring the environment near the top of the world.

Furthermore, Beare has staff devoted to cyber warfare defense, too.

As the CF discovered during its decade in Afghanistan, to keep the guns and better arriving during a time of war requires a complex logistics capability. That is why the vital ingredient in the new CJOC structure is CANOSCOM.

What the changes mean is that decisions will now be made in one place with Beare as the referee apportioning who gets what and when. The previous arrangements with three commands had been necessary, he said, because Canada had no experience for many decades of a major expeditionary undertaking such as Afghanistan. Tackling that required intense work by CEFCOM. At the same time the military was charged with providing security for the Vancouver Winter Olympics and the G8 summit.

“We would have compromised on either the continental or the expeditionary mission, depending on which one was the flavour of the day,” if the new command structure had been in place then, Beare said. “I think it allowed us to deliver the Olympics, to deliver the campaign in Southern Afghanistan and the transitions. It allowed us to create a really command-led operational support team, which gives us all of our agility at home and abroad. It set the scene for now.”

With so many pieces in this puzzle and the military’s penchant for unwieldy acronyms, it is difficult to explain what the new setup means without eyes glazing over. Nevertheless, the CJOC is of great importance to the way the CF will fight, perform humanitarian missions and safeguard Canadian territory in the future. Having one command instead of three will considerably reduce the number of officers in Ottawa, freeing them for duty with regiments and air force and navy squadrons across the country. It comes on the heels of cost-saving recommendations by Lt.-Gen Andrew Leslie in a report on transformation for Natynczyk before Leslie retired September.

One of the potentially hot files on Beare’s desk is the possibility of western military intervention in Syria. This has been much discussed in the media, although arguably less so by world or Canadian leaders.

“We’re not anticipating a direction to conduct a particular mission,” Beare said. Canada was in what he termed “our normal posture for non-combative evacuation and humanitarian assistance…But I can guarantee you we are elevating our understanding of what other people are doing and we have our own plans which we can operationalize pretty quickly.”

Beare’s “huge concern” at the moment is the rising number of so-called green-on-blue killings in which Afghan soldiers and police officers or those impersonating them have murdered their NATO mentors. To try to prevent such “insider” murders, Canada, as well as its allies, have armed “guardians” now overseeing mentors whenever they interact with their Afghan partners. Until now Canada’s trainers – currently largely drawn from the Royal Canadian Regiment in Petawawa, Ont. – have escaped such fratricidal violence.

“Sometimes it is hard know when your posture is working but we’ve had no questions in Kabul or elsewhere,” said Beare, who was a deputy commander of NATO’s training force in Afghanistan until the summer of 2011. “We share the same risks as thousands of internationals. Whether or not the enemy can discriminate between us and anybody else, who is to say.”

The war in Afghanistan took a heavy toll on Canada’s troops and their equipment. After a pause since combat troops returned home in July, 2011, the CJOC was again ready to deploy an Afghan-sized combat force overseas should the government require it.

“We’re in good shape to do certain things and will be in better shape a year from now to do more complicated things,” Beare said.
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