It's time to hit the "reset" button on Canada's military, or at least its top ranks. That much was plain from reading the jingoistic remarks of General Walt Natynczyk from a Canadian Press interview. While I won't quote broadly from the interview it's apparent that Natynczyk feels he's presiding over a military that, having had a taste of warfighting, needs ever more.
"We have some men and women who have had two, three and four tours and what they're telling me is 'Sir, we've got that bumper sticker. Can we go somewhere else now?'" Natynczyk said in an exclusive interview with The Canadian Press in Calgary.
"You also have the young sailors, soldiers, airmen and women who have just finished basic training and they want to go somewhere and in their minds it was going to be Afghanistan. So if not Afghanistan, where's it going to be? They all want to serve."
"We've got that bumper sticker." The war in Afghanistan? A merit badge? "Can we go somewhere else now?" Another war? Some other place to shoot up stuff and people? Any other place to shoot up stuff and people?
Someone needs to get Walt and people who think like him in check. Their ideas of war as sport or adventure are out of line.
Let's be honest, they've never really experienced war. Not real war. Not like the wars our fathers and grandfathers fought. Not like Farley Mowat's "Hasty P's" that suffered so many casualties that their roster was replaced - twice - in less than a year. Our entire fatality list from 11-years in Afghanistan would represent just one bad night for Bomber Command.
Those who have truly experienced war don't crave more of it. Just the opposite.
And before we give the nod to Walt or the next Walt and his kids, we need Walt to sit down and give us an accounting. We need a post mortem on Afghanistan, where it went so wrong and why we failed to achieve the goals we proclaimed so boastfully at the outset.
We need explanations. What did Walt & Company actually achieve? Canada obviously didn't get the most we could out of our military forces by setting them to warfighting in Kandahar. What can they do? What are their strengths and their weaknesses? How can they best serve Canada? What do we need to do to ensure we have a lot fewer cowboys and a few more capable generals at the helm in our armed forces?