In Search of Minerva's Owl: Canada’s Army and Staff Education (1946-1995)

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Date
2015-01-19
Authors
Coombs, Howard
Keyword
Canadian Military History , Professional Education , Staff College , Canadian Forces , Canadian Army
Abstract
The intellectual history of the Canadian Army from 1946 to 1995 can be traced through the curriculum utilized by the Canadian Army Staff College and the Canadian Forces College to educate the Canadian Army staff officer in conducting warfare within theatres of war. This body of knowledge was analogous to what today comprises the operational level of war. It is a structured vision of conducting conflict that was reaffirmed and sustained by institutional memory created in the crucible of the Second World War and traces its antecedents to the military operations of the Napoleonic Age. These ideas were preserved almost unchanged throughout the Cold War until the introduction of operational art in the late 1980s, as a result of United States influence. The ability of the Canadian Army to maintain this professional knowledge, as a coherent, unchanging whole throughout a period buffeted by social and political change indicates the separateness of the military profession within Canada. This arose from the absence of consistent and durable political guidance during the immediate post war era. As a result the use of the Canadian military as an instrument of national power became disjointed. By default, the unifying factor in Canadian defence activities was maintaining relevance within alliances, particularly in supporting the Pax Americana. This influence can be discerned by applying theories of knowledge transmission and change to the Cold War curriculum used to educate Canadian Army staff officers.
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