Canada's Defence—How and Who?
The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 6 Oct 1966, p. 1-14
Malone, Richard S., Speaker
Media Type
Item Type
The rather complex subject of integration of Canada's armed forces. An exploration of some aspects of the integration issue. The speaker's support for a high degree of integration for Canada's forces, but not an all-out unification down to the level of operational or combat units. Negative consequences of such an all-out unification. Two cardinal errors that have been made in the integration programme. The pattern of local unit identification and its importance to regimental spirit and identification. The experience of some other countries. Some strong resistance to Mr. Hellyer's plans of integration down to and including combat units, and reasons for that resistance. The faulty command structure which has prevented senior serving officers from properly presenting their professional advice on these matters to the government. The practical limits to integration. Some confusion of words: a mystery or an exercise in semantics. A technical or legal issue which Ottawa may not yet have considered. The fault in Canada's present command structure and its consequences. The issue of a defence council. Arguments against the "commander-in-chief" principles as set forth in the Esher Report of 1904. Advocating a proper defence council; its makeup and function. The British experience in this regard. Hope for flexibility in Mr. Hellyer's white paper on integration.
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6 Oct 1966
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Full Text
OCTOBER 6, 1966
Canada's Defence--How And Who?
Will unification make sense in defense?
CHAIRMAN, The President, R. Bredin Stapells, Q.C.


Welcome to you all, at this, the commencement of the 1966-67 season and sixty-third year of The Empire Club of Canada.

For a new President, standing here looking out to his friends, surely his emotions are not unlike those felt by Cortez as he stood on that peak in Darien and looked out, for the first time, on the broad blue Pacific. I wonder if he felt, as I do, the presence of those others who had been there before him and who had the same exhilarating and humbling experience.

Of those others, you will pardon a reference by me to my late uncle R. A. Stapells, who stood here as President of the Club some 47 years ago and, indeed, my own father, H. G. Stapells, Q.c., an Honorary Member of the Club, who served as its Secretary and became President in 1931.

In saying welcome to you all, I wish particularly to single out our newer members. I remind you that on November 25, 1903, this Club was founded in Webb's Restaurant under the name of The Empire Club of Canada. In those twilight days of Victorian grandeur, no name could have been selected more proudly than ours. In the past 63 years, we have adapted our Club outlook to the times. It's the content that makes the bottle good, not the label. And so we stand fast to our name!

At this time, the Board of Directors and myself wish to mention the passing during this past summer of three respected and loved Canadians and members of our Club: Dean J. A. MacFarlane of the University of Toronto, an Honorary Life Member of the Club, and a dean, in the true sense, among doctors and lesser men; J. B. McGeachie, a lifetime newspaper man and a perceptive commentator on our times; and Leonard W. Brockington, a witty and profound spokesman for Canada. Their passing is a deep loss for Canada and for the Empire Club to which each was devoted.

The season ahead is directed toward the theme of Canada's Centenary. And to this purpose we expect to welcome speakers who can lay before us the fabric of Canada.

To begin this project, we will consider today the defence of Canada. In the radio play-The Fall of the City-the American poet, Archibald MacLeish, wrote in 1937 of a city's despair in the face of the advancing conqueror. Long spoiled by freedom, the citizens had become lax in their liberty and were ill-prepared for war. Before the play's disquieting conclusion, different voices are heard above the tumult.

One voice is that of a General-almost unheard-urging action before it is too late; reminding men of the value of freedom. The politicians and citizens of the city give no heed and the city of masterless men falls before the new master.

I am not suggesting today that our country will fall if we do not listen to generals-but what I do say is this: Those who know their business must be properly heard.

We have with us today a man who has spent 40 years in the newspaper business and for the last five years has served as publisher of that great Canadian institution, The Winnipeg Free Press. Added to this, he is Vice-President and Managing Director of F. P. Publications Ltd., which publishes The Ottawa Journal, The Toronto Globe and Mail, The Winnipeg Free Press, The Calgary Albertan, The Lethbridge Herald, The Victoria Daily Times, The Daily Colonist, Victoria, Free Press Weekly Farmer's Advocate and the Vancouver Sun.

To his distinguished newspaper career, he has had a most notable career in the army. He was among the first to enter Paris, Brussels and Tokyo as well as being present at the peace signing on the U.S.S. Missouri. He coped with Field Marshal Montgomery in Italy where he was his personal liaison officer and he headed the Canadian mission to General MacArthur's headquarters in the Pacific. In short, he rendered service in all theatres of World War II; one of the few Canadian officers who could make that claim.

However, we greet our honoured guest as a man of the press. It has been said

"Some day I'll pass by the Great Gates of Gold,

And see a man pass through unquestioned and bold, A Saint? I'll ask, and old Peter'll reply:

No, he carries a pass-he's a newspaper guy."

With great pleasure, I introduce to you Brigadier Richard S. Malone, o.s.E., E.D., publisher of the Winnipeg Free Press, a newspaper guy.


I have been invited to offer some personal comments on the rather complex subject of integration of our armed forces. Now, offering comment or advice on such a controversial subject can be a risky business these days ... as four of our generals, three admirals and one air marshal have all learned in recent weeks.

About a month ago when I was in England, Dean Rusk of the United States visited London and he was asked what advice he had to offer Britain about her economic crisis. In reply he told about a little girl who was once asked ... who was Socrates? She replied that he was an old man who went about giving advice-so they poisoned him.

Well, despite these grim prospects I will try to explore some aspects of our integration issue. First, however, may I assure you I am not speaking from any political base nor am

I a member of the TRIO organization, and I am not speaking with any personal bias as far as our Defence Minister, Paul Hellyer, or our Chief of the Defence Staff, General Allard, are concerned ... quite the contrary. Both these men are old friends of mine and I have a high regard for their abilities. General Allard is an able soldier. We served together in the 1st Division and also the 5th Armoured Division in Italy as well as Northwest Europe-we were at Staff College together and in the same syndicate. I hold him in high personal regard.

The next point I should like to make is that I strongly support a high degree of integration for Canada's forces, as do the majority of serving officers and also the senior officers who were recently obliged to resign ... but like them I do not subscribe to all-out unification down to the level of operational or combat units. This is something quite different.

If unification is pushed to the level of combat units, that is, regiments, ships companies and fighter squadrons, I am convinced that all unit identification and character will be lost and the all important factors of morale, regimental pride and esprit de corps will be permanently destroyed.

In my view two cardinal errors have been made in our integration programme. Before examining these in detail, however, let me say something on the subject of esprit de corps. For those who have ever been on active service no explanation is necessary. Every commander in history is on record as to the all important value of regimental pride and spirit-from Caesar's legions to Napoleon's old guard-or in England-The Rifle Brigade, the "Buffs", the Grenadier Guards, the Scots Guards, the "Fore and Afts" and all the other units of fame and tradition ... in Canada in the past hundred years we have built similar reputations for such regiments as the Black Watch, The Queen's Own, The Van Doos, the Patricias, the 48th, The Little Black Devils, The Seaforths, and so on, right across the country. All of these units, as well as our famous naval and air units, have come to mean something very real in our national structure. Thousands of men have given their lives in building these deserved reputations.

Comparing the respective values of esprit de corps to actual numbers in battle Napoleon placed the comparison in the ratio of 4 to 1.

In a famous series of lectures at Oxford some years ago, General Wavell stressed the factor that, a quite ordinary man on joining a famous regiment, was nearly always in spired to a higher degree of courage in action. Something of this can be gained from a Canadian aspect in reading such books as "The Regiment" by Farley Mowat.

Indeed it has been proven that one of the most important instructions given to recruits on joining a regiment, a ship or a squadron, is the history of that unit, to inspire him with a sense of pride and responsibility. This same principle is today well recognized in the American forces. You will all have noted in recent months in the despatches coming out of Vietnam, the emphasis being placed on such names as the Marines, the 1st Cavalry Regiment, or the "Green Berets"now being popularized in song and books.

Canada has never been a particularly military nation, but the importance of local unit identification is as old as our history. As early as 1650 a rudimentary militia with distinctive unit markings was in being. In Montreal the French citizen guards wore a blue sash and cap. In Quebec City it was a red sash and at Three Rivers the colour wotn was white.

This pattern of local unit identification, developed by ' the early settlers all across Canada to guard their homes, has ' been a mainstay of Canadian defence services all through the years. Due to our vast geography, local regimental identification has been a more important factor in Canada than perhaps any other country. By sacrificing regimental spirit and identification Canada will lose far more than she can gain in dollar economies or efficiency.

England has adopted a degree of integration after a serious study of all the factors, but states that regimental identification of combat units will be preserved as an abso lute essential to morale. I spent some time looking into this only a few weeks ago in England ... let me quote from the British white paper. "The Services must preserve their separate identities. In action they are increasingly interdependent. This interdependence must be expected to increase. Nevertheless all experience shows that the fighting spirit of the individual man in battle derives largely from his loyalty to his ship, his unit, or his squadron. The traditions and battle honours of the individual Services are a vital factor in morale and fighting efficiency. This must be preserved."

Recently New Zealand has also considered this subject and come to the same conclusions regarding combat units. In a white paper this year it states that while they accept the fact of unification of such facilities as supply, personnel, administration and other support areas and standard procedures in supply depots, separate identities will be retained in the combat units.

The same situation exists in the United States. To quote the U.S. Secretary for the Air Force, "men have functioned most effectively as members of an identifiable group. The spirit of unity ... of brotherhood ... is enhanced by tradition, pride in one's organization and by a distinctive uniform which is a mark of membership. We should not tamper with that precious esprit de corps, that sense of identification, by immersing it in a vast agglomeration of a single service."

In times of national emergency in Canada, local unit identification has been the outstanding factor in quickly mobilizing citizen support to back the government. Some of you may recall the "On to Ottawa March" of the 30's or the General Strike in Winnipeg in 1919.

It is for reasons such as these that strong resistance has sprung up across the country to Mr. Hellyer's plans of integration down to and including combat units.

The present faulty command structure now erected by Mr. Hellyer, which I shall touch on later, has prevented senior serving officers from properly presenting their pro fessional advice on these matters to the government. Only by resigning their appointments have some of our more senior admirals, generals and air marshals been able to speak freely on this important matter.

As the world wars have illustrated, Canadian service men are not reactionary, hidebound or old fashioned, quite the contrary. Mr. Hellyer will find full support for a high degree of integration and resulting efficiencies among his service personnel but not to the point where identification of combat units is sacrificed.

As regards efficiency and economy, quite apart from the morale factor, there are definite, practical limits to integration, when the law of diminishing returns takes over. The armed forces are not merely a pool or conglomeration of . interchangeable, unskilled manpower. On the contrary, they embrace many highly specialized and technical skills. Full integration is practical at many levels and with many common-user elements. Complete unification at operational levels is something quite different. A common uniform, rank, structure and single service are not elements of economy in operational units where the functions are entirely different.

Techniques and skills are not all interchangeable nor are all vehicles, weapons and communication services. For example, there are vast differences between operating a tank and a submarine. As in civilian life you could expect service on your car from a mechanic at almost any service station. Yet, you could hardly expect that same mechanic to be an expert on marine engines or airplane motors. To make this possible would be a very costly and wasteful exercise.


During the final days of the Pacific campaign I was heading a Canadian mission at General MacArthur's headquarters in the Philippines. The problems and lessons of combined operations were very fresh and pressing in the General's mind and we discussed this matter of integration very fully one evening after dinner. In General MacArthur's view, integration of the three services was essential for the future, as far as services and headquarters were concerned but unit identification at the operations level he contended should be maintained at all costs. For example, he advised that officers in combat units should be trained in their special separate arms of the service, but on reaching the rank of Major in the Army, Squadron Leader in the Air Force, or Lieut. Commander in the Navy-all their instruction should be on a joint service basis, except in the cases of highly technical or specialist types of officers.

But now let me deal with a confusion of words-a mystery or an exercise in semantics.

Mr. Hellyer has repeatedly stated both in Parliament and in public, that he does not intend to destroy unit identifications and he can't understand why the public as well as the service men don't quite accept this assurance. He tends to blame this on the press or his public relations. The reason for this however is very simple. Whenever Mr. Hellyer is questioned in any detail of this point he has become very vague. For example ... in one breath he states that combat units will retain their individual identities yet the next moment he states that all sailors, soldiers and airmen will wear identical uniforms, have identical ranks and have some still undecided identical name such as Marines or Rangers. He is in fact saying they will be different as well as identical.

This brings up a rather technical or legal issue which Ottawa may not yet have considered. When men join the services now they are attested and sign on for either the Army, Nary or Air Force. These are legally constituted services established by parliament. What then is the position of these men, if by law we arbitrarily transfer them to some new amalgamated service called perhaps Rangers? Have our service men the right to decline such service ... or will they in effect be faced with some form of compulsory conscription, with their service pensions, future careers and type of employment at stake. In all these above circumstances and uncertainties is it any wonder that current morale in the services is at a low ebb and so many of our units are under strength?

But now I should like to deal with a more fundamental factor-an error which to a high degree has created this whole problem. This is a fault in our present command structure-which has deprived the minister or the cabinet of getting effective and qualified expert advice-and which has muzzled most of our most senior officers-and has brought about their unnecessary retirement through frustration. This problem is not new and here all the lessons of military history are being ignored.

When Mr. Hellyer brought down his white paper in 1964, I appeared as a witness before the parliamentary committee. At that time I warned as forcefully as I could that the faulty command structure being adopted could only result in one thing over some issue or other ... either the minister would be destroyed or he would destroy his generals ... and then surround himself with yes men or like-thinking supporters, irrespective of expert or experienced advice. To date, four generals, three admirals and one air marshal, I believe, have been effectively destroyed as far as giving any expert advice to the government. These officers were not fools and they did not reach their positions of command by mere accident. I can't speak for the Navy or Air Force but General Fleury was undoubtedly the most able "admin" officer to emerge from the last war and General Moncel was the youngest Canadian officer to serve in action as a brigadier in the last war.

As set forth in the recent white paper we now have in fact, if not in name, a commander-in-chief or a captain-general of the forces, a post which became obsolete in Queen Anne's reign.

In essence, the chief of Canada's defence staff is now the adviser to the government on all defence matters. Mr. Hellyer argues that we do have a defence council. But mem bers of this council or staff do not vote or speak with a voice equal to that of the chief of the defence staff nor do they have the right of direct access to the Cabinet.

History has demonstrated times without number the fallacy of this arrangement. It is much like the relationship between a patient and his doctor-the professional. When the patient refuses to accept the doctor's professional advice, the doctor must either abandon the case or be fired. In history, where the commander-in-chief principle has been attempted, either the minister representing the government, or the commander-in-chief has dominated. One or the other, or sometimes both, must be destroyed or become mere ciphers.

Invariably a commander-in-chief tends to gather around him his friends and like-thinking men, who have no authority to question his decisions, their future appointments and promotions being dependent on his favour.

A reading of military history back in Queen Anne's reign, or at the time of Lord Palmerston, illustrates where such a policy leads. An uninterrupted war prevailed between the chief of staff at the Horse Guards and the minister of war at Whitehall for some 13 years in the Queen Anne period. There is the record of Sir David Dundas' appeals to the prime minister over the head of his minister and the squabbles between the Duke of York and Lord Eldon. Matters finally came to a head after the Boer War, which brought about a full-scale enquiry under Lord Esher. As a result, a proper army council was established with both military and civilian members to advise the government. The minister participated in the deliberations and decisions of this board. Each member had an equal voice. The majority could overrule the chief of general staff. The heads of services thus participated in and became party to any decisions and their views could be presented to the government. Such was not the case in Mr. Hellyer's recent row with his generals and admirals. They were not party to many decisions and they could not make their voices heard without resigning from the service.

The clearest arguments against the "commander-inchief" principles are perhaps set forth in the Esher Report of 1904. Although the Esher Commission dealt primarily with army organization alone, the same principles of organization are just as valid today in the projected unified defence force for Canada. Some of the relevant sections of the Esher report which might be reviewed are as fallows: -

"The principal administrative weakness uncovered by the Esher committee in its examination of the War Office concerned the role of the Army's commander-in-chief, to whom all other senior officers were responsible. The committee found a tendency among top Army officers to "shelter themselves behind the commander-in-chief" and to "impute to the Secretary of State for the War the responsibility for decisions of which they disapprove."

There was evidence that the commander-in-chief relied for advice upon individuals whose habits of thoughts were identical to his own. The Army was run by a cabal of likethinking generals and "yes men".

More distressing, the committee found, was the effect which this arrangement had on the relationship between the Army commander and his minister. As the transient political head of the War Office, the minister was presumably the senior authority and the commander his expert adviser. The Minister, however, had no other persons on whom to turn for freely expressed, expert advice. He accepted or rejected the recommendations of the Commander-in-Chief. If he agreed with his adviser, the Minister risked becoming a mere mouthpiece of the commander; if he rejected advice, the position of the commander was compromised. Yet they were two individuals, the untrained minister with the final authority and the experienced commander with the military training, performing the same task. One must inevitably destroy the other.

The most important change effected by the Esher report was the elimination of a single Army commander-in-chief and the transfer of his powers to a Council.

The Adjutant-General and the Quartermaster-General were assigned areas of authority stemming directly from the Council, rather than from the commander. These officers, though they might be of inferior rank, had an equal voice on the Council with the Chief of the Imperial General Staff, whose function was largely related to operations. Each took his orders, not from the C.I.G.S., but from the Army Council.

The Council also served to eliminate the difficult and mutually destructive relationship between the Minister and the commander-in-chief. The Minister no longer relied on a single officer for advice on such widely varying subjects as engineering, victualling, and military justice. He drew on the advice of a group of experts.

By having the Minister himself participate as a working member of the Council, as well as his deputy and possibly the Director of Defence Research, the historic policy of firm civilian control over the armed forces with direct responsibility to the cabinet is reaffirmed. Lord Haldane, Secretary of State for War at the time of the Esher report warned against ever again reviving a situation of military independence from parliament through establishment of the commanderin-chief principle.

In recent years in Canada, no single body, committee or council was specifically charged with the direct responsibility of formulating our national defence policy, unbe lievable as that may seem. Under a properly constituted Defence Council, as called for above, this situation would end. Instead of merely advising, buck passing and debating, the committee would have to make decisions and be held responsible for them.

The changes effected by the recent white paper establishes that the chief of general staff alone is now the adviser to the government on all defence matters. The duties of the staff are as determined by him alone and senior appointments are according to his recommendation.

I would strongly advocate that in place of our present arrangement of a commander-in-chief, that this function be carried out by a proper defence council of senior officers, representing not the three distinct branches of the Service but rather the three functions of defence . . . operations, supply and administration for all three services. Also included in this council or staff should be certain civilian members such as the deputy minister and someone representing research as well as war time production or industry when required.

Had such a system been in effect to properly offer advice to the cabinet, I feel certain that all the present confusion could have been avoided and that the worthwhile aspects of integration would have been readily effected.

It is particularly noteworthy that in England today, where some limited steps towards integration have been taken and a new type of defence council established, they have carefully spelled out this safeguard.

In the British white paper on defence issued in 1963 it specifically states that "In addition, the chief of the defence staff and chiefs of staff (other members) will as at present be invited to attend meetings of the full cabinet on appropriate occasions. They will thus continue to be able to fulfil their traditional duty to tender professional military advice to the government and they will retain their right of access to the prime minister.... It (the defence council) will exercise the powers of command and administrative control."

In reference to the chiefs-of-staff committee it also states that the members of the committee "are collectively respon= sible to the government." Again it spells out that "when there is a divergence of view between the chiefs of staff, the chief of the defence staff will submit the alternatives when they have been discussed and defined to the secretary of state." This collective principle has been completely abandoned in Canada's present military structure. Its absence can only result in further "eyeball to eyeball confrontations" at some future date and trap the government into mistakes, which by the law of averages are bound to happen with a one-man adviser. In its complex integration programme mistakes can be very costly to Canada.

In the current situation it is not a question of some "dug out" old blimps and "Brass Hats" attempting to dictate policy to the government. These senior officers fully recog nize and accept that the government of the day establishes the general policy. But also it is the proper responsibility of the senior commanders to implement this policy based on their expert military knowledge and to fully advise the government on such details as the method, timing, equipping, training, recruiting, etc. In the present instance the advice of many senior officers as to the method, degree and timing of integration is being rejected out of hand.

Unlike the British system it is now impossible in Canada for members of the defence council to freely present their views direct to the cabinet with a voice equal to the Chief of Staff-even though a majority of members may have a view contrary to the chief or captain-general.

When Mr. Hellyer first introduced his white paper on integration he stated that his plan was flexible and experimental in some aspects and through trial and error could be subject to change. In the two aspects I have outlined here today. I sincerely hope he maintains his position of flexibility and seeks the best possible advice before permanent harm has been done to Canada's armed forces. The efforts, indeed the lives, of thousands of Canadians have gone into building the highest reputation for our services. I would hate to see this thoughtlessly and needlessly destroyed ... that is the sole reason why I accepted your invitation to speak here today.

Thanks of this meeting were expressed by Lt. Col. E. A. Royce, E.D.

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Canada's Defence—How and Who?

The rather complex subject of integration of Canada's armed forces. An exploration of some aspects of the integration issue. The speaker's support for a high degree of integration for Canada's forces, but not an all-out unification down to the level of operational or combat units. Negative consequences of such an all-out unification. Two cardinal errors that have been made in the integration programme. The pattern of local unit identification and its importance to regimental spirit and identification. The experience of some other countries. Some strong resistance to Mr. Hellyer's plans of integration down to and including combat units, and reasons for that resistance. The faulty command structure which has prevented senior serving officers from properly presenting their professional advice on these matters to the government. The practical limits to integration. Some confusion of words: a mystery or an exercise in semantics. A technical or legal issue which Ottawa may not yet have considered. The fault in Canada's present command structure and its consequences. The issue of a defence council. Arguments against the "commander-in-chief" principles as set forth in the Esher Report of 1904. Advocating a proper defence council; its makeup and function. The British experience in this regard. Hope for flexibility in Mr. Hellyer's white paper on integration.