RCN Naval Diplomacy

José Cañadas Méndez, 25 April 2021

In March 2021 the Naval Association of Canada (NAC) issued a new Niobe paper. The subject this time is “The Royal Canadian Navy and Naval Diplomacy,” by Paul Chamberlain, Policy Advisor to the Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy. Through the 13 pages of the document, the article “briefly places navies in the current international context, examines the unique role of navies, discusses academic literature and existing doctrine on naval diplomacy, and notes the various diplomatic activities of the RCN. As well, it offers an updated definition and typology of naval diplomacy, identifies some key factors in improving outcomes, and proposes some areas for further discussion.”

Rather than write an analysis or summary, I just dare to quote 10 excerpts from it to whet the appetite in the readers:

1. “(...) navies must have a coherent concept of their own role as diplomatic influencers.”

2. “The RCN conducts a wide spectrum of diplomatic missions.”

3. “The impact of these RCN activities on successful foreign policy outcomes, (…) is often unrecognised or underestimated.”

4. “Naval forces offer a relatively inexpensive yet historically and culturally symbolic method of delivering diplomatic effect without going to war.”

5. “I label the four areas of naval diplomatic activity Dynamic, Evocative, Instructive and Organisational.” [Each with two separate sub-categories].

6. “Navies must build legacy documents and ‘lessons learned’ procedures (…) such data must be understandable, organised and accessible by those who need it.”

7. “Maximising the value of naval diplomacy requires high levels of coordination”.

8. “Canada’s Navy (…) is a deployable microcosm of Canadian society and technology.”

9. “(...) success in naval diplomacy (…) relies upon people. (…) In practical terms, every sailor is a diplomat.”

10. “(...) we must also consider developing an effective doctrine on how to utilize new platforms for naval diplomacy tasks.”

I hope followers of CNR will enjoy reading this piece as I have done. It’s available at https://www.navalassoc.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Chamberlain-Naval-Diplomacy.pdf

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