Top Soldier Doesn’t Agree With More Calls For Military Oversight

Unfortunately, all those brave words are merely old wine in new bottles. It may be fair to say that anytime in the past when a political call has been made for "more teeth and less tail" it invariably ends up with reductions in operational capacity. How many times has the military tried to close redundant bases and armouries only to run headlong into riding politics? It takes considerable political courage to get rid of inefficient or under-used infrastructure and the people required to keep it in being. As any student of Civil-Military relations in Canada knows full well, political control of the military has always been tight, through control of defence spending especially. Only when military and political requirements coincide -- which is seldom in Canada -- is real change accomplished. Even at times when national security has come under direct threat or when a government is pressured into taking action over some foreign crisis, politicians are reluctant to accept military advice. Recent examples of the consequences of political constraints imposed on a military operation attest to the risks of excessive political control. Although political control of the military is very necessary for a functioning democracy, it needs to be respected by the military and not publicly challenged. It has been said that truly effective civil (or political) control of the military should be a contract where mutual respect for each party's concerns exists. Such a contract does not seem to exist in Canada today.




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