The Other Cold War: Canadian Military Assistance in the Developing World

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Kilford, Christopher
Military , Assistance , Canadian Forces , Development
This thesis explains how Canada, and the Canadian Forces, became involved with the delivery of military assistance to the developing world from the post-war period until the election of Pierre Trudeau as prime minister in 1968. Military assistance, in effect the provision of equipment, advice or training to the armed forces of a recipient country, was an area in which Canada and the Canadian Forces became significantly, if somewhat haphazardly involved with, after 1945. The thesis argues that the number of military personnel deployed overseas for military assistance purposes was very small compared to Canada’s North Atlantic Treaty Organization and United Nations contributions. Nevertheless, those Canadians involved in training and advising foreign militaries were highly trained senior officers and non-commissioned officers who provided invaluable advice and assistance. Furthermore, and as requests from the developing world for military assistance increased, Ottawa had little choice but to create the Interdepartmental Military Assistance Committee in 1964 in an effort to coordinate Canada’s previously ad hoc military assistance efforts. Lastly, while Prime Minister Diefenbaker and his successor, Lester Pearson, were willing to offer military assistance to Commonwealth countries in the post-colonial period, Prime Minister Trudeau was not. Believing that any sort of military assistance was ill-advised, he would ultimately work towards ending all Canadian efforts in this regard soon after his election in 1968. The thesis concludes that Canada became engaged in the business of military assistance on an ad hoc basis. There was no master plan to offer military assistance to foreign countries as a means to boost domestic armaments production, spur on wider development activities in the receiving countries or to gain greater international political influence for Canada. Furthermore, when the Canadian government began sending military advisors around the globe in the 1960s, the need to check communist influence often determined which countries received Canadian military help. Finally, Trudeau’s decision to end Canada’s military assistance efforts was a sound one given the domestic and international political situation at the time.
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