Canadian commander talks US partnership
July 3, 2013
By Nick Duke
FORT BENNING, Ga., (July 3, 2013) -- Lt. Gen. Peter J. Devlin, the commander of the Canadian Army, visited Fort Benning June 26 and took the time to speak to students from the Maneuver Captains Career Course about the future of armed conflict, as well as the future of the partnership between the U.S. and Canadian armies.
Devlin said the one thing that is certain about future conflict is that it will not resemble what both armies have fought in the wake of 9/11.
"I think that future armed conflict will be tough, it will be uncertain, it will be challenging, it will be chaotic and it will be different than what we've experienced over the past decade or so," he said. "I think that we need to be alert to those challenges and the differences."
The key, he said, will be finding future leaders who will have the ability to adapt to a changing global landscape.
"We need leaders that think, leaders that have imagination and are creative," he said. "Leaders that take doctrine and understanding and aren't slaves to it, but rather are thinking, innovative leaders able to react to an uncertain tomorrow. We also need to have leaders that are respectful of the human terrain and are alert to cultural differences and language differences so they can be respectful in how they operate."
However, no matter how much future conflict changes, Devlin said the need to master the fundamentals of Soldiering and maintaining a high moral standard will continue to be imperative for leaders.
"We need to have a heightened respect for fundamentals along the lines of marksmanship, field craft, physical fitness, and I think that would also make a significant contribution to combat leadership," he said. "We need ethical leaders. Leaders need to have their values on their sleeves -- values of integrity, courage and devotion. That gives them the right and the opportunity to travel on the moral high ground, and when they travel on that moral high ground, when they have a respect for the fundamentals and when they are command-driven with mission intent, we'll have combat leaders that are ready for the uncertainty of tomorrow."
Devlin also said leaders will need to be mindful of the advantages that working with other nations can provide.
"Multinationality is a marvelous thing," he said. "We can use different approaches, different equipment, different tactics, techniques and procedures, and different languages that together, provide commanders with a real rich ability to be able to deliver influence on the battlefields of tomorrow."
An added advantage both U.S. and Canadian leaders have is the close relationship between the two armies, a relationship Devlin said must continue to prosper in the years ahead.
"The Canadian and U.S. armies have an incredibly rich and fulfilling special relationship," he said. "It's something that I cherish and something that, moving forward, is important to both armies. I think that relationship is based on understanding and is based on trust, and we need to underline that understanding and that trust as we move forward."
However, Devlin was quick to point out the two armies have other important allies that will play key roles in determining the future of armed conflict.
"The American, British, Canadian and Australian armies organization is a really rich partnership of armies that can turn concepts and ideas much faster than larger organizations like NATO, and I think that through experimentation, through virtual exercises and virtual linkages, we can share, we can experiment and we can be prepared for that next conflict," he said.