Canadian Navy Trains to Keep the Peace

By David N. Griffiths and Douglas S. Thomas

The Canadian Navy has been involved in United Nations peacekeeping since the term first was used in 1956, when the carrier Magnificent served as an integral part of the U.N. deployment to Suez. Throughout the succeeding four decades, the Canadian Navy has conducted many and varied peace operations, including interdiction off places such as Haiti, Iraq, and Yugoslavia; humanitarian assistance in Somalia; sending contingents of naval observers to Cambodia; and providing trained individuals to missions from Central America to the Balkans. The doctrine that has developed from this experience states that the Canadian Navy participates in peacekeeping in three ways: providing ships or formations, providing contingents, and providing skilled individuals. 1 This, in turn, defines the navy's training strategy.

Training ships and formations for peacekeeping duties is the most straightforward of these three situations. Most peacekeeping roles assigned to warships inevitably are variations on such familiar themes as naval diplomacy, deterrence, surveillance, escort, enforcement, logistic support, and evacuation. The skills required on board competent warships generally are adaptable to almost any peacekeeping contingency, no matter how unusual. Nonetheless, an assumption that forethought about peacekeeping is not required would be imprudent. Failure to appreciate the complexity and subtleties of peace operations can mean failure to accomplish the mission. Understanding these problems in advance is essential for those who must train the crews and support the commanders when the time comes.

The training of contingents presents a less-familiar problem. Canada's first experience came in 1992 when a team of 30 naval people joined the national naval component of the U.N. Transitional Authority in Cambodia, which was to use Cambodian vessels as patrol platforms. For that unusual duty, the advance party and first rotation had to take specialized training from experienced U.N. military observers at military bases. Once the sailors had gained such experience in-theater, however, subsequent teams could be trained in naval establishments as naval observers. Based on that experience, the Canadian Navy maintains documents and checklists, including training standards for a two-week naval observer course, ready for the next requirement to create, train, and deploy a naval contingent. It is essential that those who will conduct that training be acquainted with the unique challenges of peacekeeping, or at least know where that expertise can be obtained.

Maintaining contingency plans for training individuals is difficult, because the conceivable scenarios are varied and unpredictable. Selected Canadian naval personnel have served individually or in small groups in observer missions such as the U.N. forces in Central America or on specialized technical assignments. Perhaps the most unconventional of these missions occurred between 1991 and 1994, when a small number of Canadians were seconded to the European Community Monitoring Mission in the former Yugoslavia, as civilian diplomatic monitors. 2 This kind of assignment is not something that a navy's training organization is likely to be able to predict or prepare for in advance. Experience has shown, however, that the best insurance against such unique and often sudden requirements is a solid foundation of professional operational and staff training, complemented by careful selection and ready access to external resources for training in things such as mediation skills or cultural indoctrination. 3

Arguably the most valuable and cost-effective peacekeeping contingency resource is a modestly sized cadre of people throughout the organization who are educated and trained in the unique requirements of peacekeeping. They can serve as the pool of expertise for planning, training, staff work, and command, as and when required. The challenge is training that cadre at minimal cost and minimal disruption to primary duties.

Peacekeeping is not, and never has been, a purely military role. Military peacekeepers work hand-in-hand with diplomats, civil police, the media, and the many government and non-government agencies that deal with humanitarian assistance, development, human rights, and democratization. The maritime component of this "new peacekeeping partnership" can include not only navies but also fisheries-protection services, coast guards, customs officials, harbor and coastal police, and merchant mariners. Dealing with non-military agencies is not just another challenge to naval planners. It also represents an invaluable opportunity and a source of knowledge and resources that can enhance naval peacekeeping readiness and training.

Given the challenges posed by the maritime dimension of peacekeeping, including interaction with the many nonmilitary agencies involved, it would be invaluable to have a resource that periodically could bring together an international mix of naval, air, and land force officers; non-naval mariners; diplomats; the media; humanitarian agencies; and others into one forum for a relatively short but intense learning experience. Such an organization also would constitute a source of information and pool of expertise that could provide training assistance on demand. Fortunately, that resource now exists. Out of 11 organizations comprising the International Association of Peacekeeping Training Centres, only one has a specific maritime program: the Lester B. Pearson Canadian International Peacekeeping Training Centre at Cornwallis Park, Nova Scotia.

Established by the government of Canada in 1994 on the site of a former Canadian Forces base, the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre is an education, training, and research facility with a mandate to (in the words of its president) "teach the teachers, train the trainers, and educate the educators." 5 The Centre offers a broad range of activities and programs, all run in accordance with its concept of "the new peacekeeping partnership," and is pursuing an electronic distance learning capability. Most courses are two-week packages that deal with such issues as the maritime dimension of peacekeeping, interdisciplinary cooperation, negotiation and mediation, legal issues, administration and logistics, personal support, and human rights. The Centre also runs a six-week peacekeeping command and staff course. In addition to its courses, the Centre offers an extensive schedule of conferences, seminars, and workshops and sponsors field research and a visiting scholars program. It has an increasingly comprehensive library devoted to peacekeeping issues and its own publishing arm, the Canadian Peacekeeping Press.

The Centre's two-week maritime course is entitled "As Pass on the Seas: The Maritime Dimension of Peacekeeping." 6 Its aim is to provide an in-depth understanding of the theory, issues, and techniques of maritime operations as they apply to modern peacekeeping. 7 The members of the directing staff recognize that many participants bring their own valuable peacekeeping experience to the course and therefore treat them as coequal members of a collegial learning experience, conducted at a university tutorial level. On average, the course consists of 30 participants, divided into three international, multidisciplinary syndicates. "As Pass on the Seas" is designed to educate rather than train. It consists of several modules, each involving directed readings, lectures by guest experts, syndicate discussion, and occasional plenary discussions to ensure that lessons learned in individual syndicates can be shared by all. An exercise called Valiant Viking is run on an ongoing basis throughout the course and is designed to reinforce the knowledge derived from the lectures and discussions.

There are six modules in the program. The introductory module provides initial and essential background on peacekeeping in general and maritime peacekeeping in particular. Conduct of Maritime Peacekeeping Operations addresses offshore, inshore, and riverine operations and in-theater protection of shipping, ocean resources, and the marine environment. Command and Control deals with the unique command-and-control requirements for peacekeeping, as well as such issues as intelligence and maritime aviation. Applications of International and Maritime Law deals with the legal framework of peace operations, rules of engagement, and civil-military cooperation. Relations with Non-Military Agencies in the Theater addresses the role of non-government agencies and the media, Support Requirements covers pre-deployment and concurrent training, support to the land forces, support to deployed maritime force, and port facility requirements. As each module proceeds, Exercise Valiant Viking requires the participants to act as a rapidly assembled multinational U.N. staff, charged with resolving high-level problems of assessing the maritime aspects of an unfolding complex peacekeeping situation, developing a warning order based on a U.N. resolution, and defining options to achieve maritime objectives. This not only consolidates knowledge and practices realistic problem solving but also provides useful experience in the group dynamics of ad hoc multinational planning teams.

The Pearson Peacekeeping Centre is an independent educational institution, but because of its maritime program, it has established close links with the Canadian Navy. Naval personnel have attended virtually all of the courses offered by the Centre. At least one naval officer serves on the directing staff of each maritime course, and a naval officer recently has been seconded as a full-time faculty member. The Canadian Forces routinely take advantage of the Centre's expertise to contract peacekeeping research and other activities, including assistance in the planning and conduct of exercises. In this, the Canadian Navy is no exception.

The Maritime Coordinated Training (MARCOT) exercise, conducted in June 1996 by the Commander Maritime Forces Atlantic, simulated a complex multidimensional peacekeeping operation that included cease-fire monitoring, embargo enforcement, humanitarian assistance, and post-conflict reconstruction. Military participants included Canadian, British, Danish, and U.S. land, sea, and air forces, plus a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) airborne warning and control aircraft (AWACS). Other members of the "new peacekeeping partnership" were represented by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the International Committee of the Red Cross. The Pearson Peacekeeping Centre assisted in developing the scenario and coordinating the participation of civilian agencies for MARCOT '96. During the exercise. the Centre's president played the role of the Special Representative of the U.N. Secretary General, while other members of the staff acted as senior U.N. officials and representatives of the conflicting parties. This addition of a real political, diplomatic, and humanitarian civil element demonstrated to all players the differing professional cultures and the challenges of interaction. 8

The Canadian experience has shown that no single nation or service holds a monopoly on peacekeeping expertise. It is neither cost-effective nor necessary for one nation or service to attempt to conduct all peacekeeping training entirely inhouse. The best peacekeeping readiness posture is to identify and exploit specialized expertise wherever in the world it resides and to maintain a cadre of people in key places who are educated in peacekeeping issues. The Pearson Peacekeeping Centre demonstrates how an independent institution can contribute effectively and efficiently and relieve budget-conscious armed forces of the need to devote valuable people, time, and money to developing and maintaining a less comprehensive and eclectic training program of their own. Peacekeeping is a multinational, multidisciplinary business. Training for peacekeeping warrants multinational, multidisciplinary solutions.

1 See VAdm. P. W. Cairns, "Maritime Training for Peace Operations," NATO's Sixteen Nations, Number 1/1994, pp. 17-20.

2 See D. N. Griffiths, "Waging Peace in Bosnia," U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, January 1994, pp. 31-34.

3 See Lt. G. Shorey, Canadian Navy, "Selection and Training of Military Observers: Lessons Learned from the Naval Experience," Maritime Command Technical Note 1/94 (Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada: Maritime Command Headquarters, 1994).

4 For a detailed analysis of naval and civil maritime peacekeeping roles and capabilities, see D. N. Griffiths, "The Influence of Seapower Upon Peacekeeping," Maritime Security Working Papers, Number 3, (Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada: Dalhousie University Centre for Foreign Policy Studies, 1993).

5 Alex Morrison and James Kiras, "The Pearson Peacekeeping Centre," Maritime Warfare Bulletin, Issue 2/95 (Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada: CF Maritime Warfare Centre, 1995), p. 23.

6 The phrase is drawn from a traditional naval prayer, which asks that the navy may be "a security for such as pass on the seas upon their lawful occasions."

7 This and other details are taken from the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre's course brochure and Internet web site ( ).

8 Stephanie Blair, "Canadian Peacekeeping Policy and Practice: The Experience of Maritime Forces Atlantic in MARCOT '96," Maritime Security Working Papers Number 5 (Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada: Dalhousie University Centre for Foreign Policy Studies, 1996).

David Griffiths is a former naval officer and an independent analyst, consultant, and writer specializing in maritime peace and security issues. He has served with the European Community Monitoring Mission in Yugoslavia and actively is involved in maritime confidence-building aspects of the Middle East Peace Process.

Douglas Thomas is a former naval officer who commanded the Canadian naval contingent in Cambodia in 1992 and developed the training package for future contingents upon his return to Canada.


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