Debating when and how to engage (and exit)
Most of the violent conflicts to which western armed forces have responded over the past two decades have had their origins in the incapacity of states to perform their most basic function – to provide for the safety and security of their citizens.

While culture and geopolitics may make for variations in the regional expression of such conflict, fragile and failed states and the international responses to them also have many striking common characteristics. It thus makes sense to adopt a comparative perspective in exploring the links between weak domestic security governance and threats to national and regional security, and in examining the role of international security forces in assisting in the development of more effective local and national security structures.

Building such capacity to the point where full responsibility for security can safely be left to local and national authorities is a critical task for the international community in all these regions, as is recognizing and acting appropriately when that point has been reached. Engagement, implementation and exit strategies, as well as coordination among lines of operation between civilian, military, governmental and non-governmental agencies and actors, must all be considered in a holistic approach to resolving conflicts and state building that may span a generation to achieve lasting success.

This is especially critical in a world of competing interests, finite resources and short attention spans.

From June 21-23 in Kingston, the Queen’s Centre for International Relations, Defence Management Studies, the U.S. Army War College and the Canadian Forces (Land Force Doctrine and Training System) will host their 5th annual International Security Conference, “Security and Governance: Foundations for International Stability.”

When to engage and to disengage in unstable states and regions are some of the vital questions that will be addressed.

For further information see:

— Major Greg Poehlmann, LFDTS Public Affairs Officer

Poppies not primary profit for Taliban
Much has been written about the Afghan narcotic trade as a significant source of funding for the insurgency. But Taliban profit has been greatly overestimated, says Florian Kühn, a senior researcher at Helmut Schmidt University, the university of the German Federal Armed Forces in Hamburg.

At a recent presentation to the Centre for Defence and Security Studies at Carleton University, the visiting fellow at the Centre for International Relations at Queen’s University said the drug trade is controlled by 20 to 30 Afghan families that have built an extensive international network of relatives. Not only do they control most of the drug revenue, but much of it is invested outside of Afghanistan. And what does remain in the country “goes into shaping the political environment for future profit,” such as buying public offices.

Independence for CIDA
Calls to make the Canadian International Development Agency more effective have been coming fast and furious for over a decade. Various reports, including the Senate in 2007, have suggested everything from rendering it a branch of Foreign Affairs to making it a true ministry or an independent agency. Little, of course, has changed.

The latest salvo comes from the Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute, with a report released in May called Reinventing CIDA. Written by Barry Carin and Gordon Smith, both of the University of Victoria’s Centre for Global Studies, it recommends that CIDA be treated as a Crown Corporation.

Both believe that CIDA can grow into an effective aid delivery program, but they argue it lacks focus and is falling short of its mandate in part because “the Canadian Government lacks a clear set of development assistance priorities.” In addition to giving it some independence, they suggest the government task CIDA with developing “strategic, focused objectives” and “empower [it] to adopt new approaches, emphasizing the provision of incentives and greater competition amongst those delivering assistance.”

The report is available at

After several weeks of speculation about his next assignment, LGen Andrew Leslie, Chief of the Land Staff, has been appointed Chief of Transformation, a position he’ll assume on June 22. According to DND, he will “act as the driving force behind organization changes and re-positioning the Canadian Forces for the future. Specifically, the Chief of Transformation will be responsible for increasing organizational efficiency and effectiveness”…

LCol Maryse Carmichael assumed command of the Canadian Forces Snowbirds from LCol Steve Will, who retired after 26 years as an officer, at a change of command ceremony at 15 Wing Moose Jaw on May 6. Maj Chris Hope, designated Snowbird 1, will lead the team for the 2010 show season, the Snowbirds’ 40th season…

In April, Padre Karl McLean was named the next Canadian Forces Chaplain General and promoted to Brigadier-General. He succeeds BGen David Kettle, who will retire…

Col Blaise Cathcart assumed the role of Canadian Forces Judge Advocate General on April 14, following a promotion to Brigadier-General. He succeeds BGen Ken Watkin, who will retire.